First Time Mom - Abington,PA

Updated on January 20, 2010
J. asks from Abington, PA
8 answers

Hi, Everyone

I have a 3 year old who has been at daycare/school new since 11/08.
about a month in half he started hitting he's friends when he wants something that someone has or if he didnt want to stop a project hes doing or if the teacher tells him no. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to stop him. I dont want friend to be afraid of him he is a good boy another then that.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My son went through a short hitting phase when he was 3 also, he was never in a daycare and we're against any kind of spanking, so I don't think it was behavior he was mimicking. He just got frustrated and that's how he expressed it. Luckily or unluckily, he only did this behavior with people he was comfortable with so that meant his cousins. So, family is much more understanding than other parents. We just firmly told him hitting was wrong and he received his punishment each time. We also started to talk about what he should do when he was frustrated and taught him to walk away and try to find something else to do. After a few episodes, the hitting stopped all together. I think it was just a phase, but the important thing was to be very firm about how wrong it was and give him a consequence. Hopefully, he'll stop quickly. Now, if he's around other kids that may be hitting, it may take longer to get him to stop if he's seeing this behavior.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Does he still nap? Our son started hitting only because he was reallly tired. we stopped naps before he was ready. Ever since he's been getting more sleep, he stopped hitting. As soon as he hits, I know he's just really tired. Hope that helps... Kindly, M.


answers from Allentown on

Hi, J.:

How is he disciplined at home?

Just want to know. D.



answers from Pittsburgh on


First of all, don't panic. This is normal (which is not to say acceptable) toddler behavior. Most of them go through a hitting/biting/hair pulling/whatever phase. I don't agree with the other E. who wrote that this is somehow your fault or even someone else's fault. Kids hit. They get frustrated and don't know what to do with it and they lash out. If TV or daycare is the cause of hitting, then I guess nobody hit anybody else until 50 years ago? Anyway, what is important is how your respond to this behavior, and if it has been 6 weeks it is high time to get on top of it.

I'm not sure what your discipline strategy is, but I think first you need to get on the same page as the daycare. My son's daycare's strategy is exactly what we do at home as well so he is given a clear, consistent message about what behaviors are unacceptable and what the consequences of such behaviors are. For most unacceptable behaviors, a warning is issued, and if it is not heeded then a consequence follows, usually either removal of the toy (or whatever is causing the behavior) or a time out. They call them "breaks" at my son's daycare, so that's what I tend to call them too, but they are really time-outs on the "naughty stair." For really unacceptable behaviors (hitting, doing something dangerous), an immediate time out, with a message of "You are taking a break because you hit. Hitting hurts. We don't hit our friends (Mom, dog, whomever)." 1 minute per year of age, and when it is time to get up you reinforce with "You had to take a break because you.... If you are ready to get up, you need to apologize to.... for...."

It does work, if you are calm, clear, and consistent. And by that I mean you may have to march him back to the naughty stair (or chair, or corner, or whatever you use) 40 times in the beginning, and it might take 2 hours-- whether you have 2 hours to spend on it or not. It is not something to start on a whim, because, like sleep training, if you cave, you will have created a MONSTER.

My ds is only 2, but at 3 I would think that you could be working with your son to help him verbalize what he is so angry/frustrated about and what other strategies he could use to resolve them. Mr. Rogers has a great song called "What do you do with the mad that you feel?" and a whole episode on anger. See if you can find it on DVD to help him work through these feelings.



answers from Philadelphia on

Dear J.,
You have brought a child into the world and allowed the world to show him the "ropes". You must understand that toddlers learn from what others do. If he sees another do that action, whatever it is, he will try it to see what happens. That is why many families do not even have a TV on for their children. If your child is exposed to this undesirable behanvior, you need to take a step back and think about the environment that you have allowed him to be victim. He is a victim if undesirable actions are being absorbed in his brain. If it continues in the day care, sooner or later, he will bring it home to you. If supervision is not at the day care that meets your standards, you know what you need to do. Good Luck, Mom.
Take a firm hand in this, your child is worth it....he will do the same to the one on the way.
It is time for him to learn, "It's time for the thinging chair, if this gets out of hand.


answers from Williamsport on

Kids can learn extremely quickly not to hit if they are given a consequence they do not want repeated. Treat it like any other grave offense, give it your best discipline, and he'll get it quickly. If this has been happening for so long, he has no mental disorders, and is intelligent and otherwise well behaved, he's well loved and happy at home, then he is obviously not getting firm enough consequences for it.

I agree with other posters who said it's normal behavior. Sure, kids will imitate stuff, and get mad and frustrated. But if they are not allowed to hit, just like anything else, they stop. We don't sweat it when kids see bad behavior or catch glimpses of shady TV, etc, because they know what they are allowed to do and not do.

Be VERY firm on the hitting. At three he is old enough to have a consequence after the fact when he gets home if you explain clearly what it's for.

It doesn't hurt to talk about it out of the blue too, when nothing is happening, just have a talk about how hitting other kids is absolutely wrong behavior that you and dad do not allow it. (in addition to the consequences, this wouldn't be enough on it's own)

Tell him in advance what will happen from you AND dad if you find out from the teacher he hits anyone. Explain it is her job to let you know. It's absolutely not the teachers job to teach him not to hit, though of course she'll tell him. Daycares aren't allowed to give firm enough consequences to teach (obviously, or he would have stopped), just enough to keep kids in check at school the best they can. Also, this is a great time for dad to take charge! He's a boy. Dad needs to make sure he absolutely must follow the rule of no hitting other kids.


answers from Philadelphia on

is this the first time you child does behave like this? Do you discipline him when acting like this? Does he communicate well? Is the hitting recurrent or just occasionally? I do understand that kids have little patient and when they want something, they want it right away. However, we as parents, set the rules of conduct and good behavior. Be consistent with the discipline and with very simple commands and actions. Do not worry so much and put your strategy in place. Good luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

I agree with what the others say about him mirroring behavior that he sees so thinking about the exposure and reducing/eliminating that exposure will be helpful.

However, I also think that if he is a good listener besides this issue, that it may be a phase. I remember my son going through a point where he was getting 2 time outs a day at daycare for hitting or pushing. I think at 3 some kids just don't know how to express anger and just lash out. I tried to explain to my son that it's okay to get angry, but just yell or say a silly phrase like "crud-ola" or do something that doesn't involve hurting anyone. It took a little while, but it does get through to them eventually.

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