Hitting - East Taunton,MA

Updated on March 14, 2010
L.B. asks from East Taunton, MA
6 answers

My 3 1/2 year old is hitting. He'll hit and then cry that he is "only joking". He has tantrums, when he doesn't get things his way. I guess typical 3 year old. But the hitting is out of control.

What can I do next?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Favorite toy? Warn once, then remove the toy for a hitting offense. Add time per offense. Let him see it--like put it on the fridge. It will be misery but it will make a point. When he loses the toy tell him "We don't hit. Hitting hurts."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Hitting is not a joke. Each time he hits hold him at arms length, get down and look into his eyes and then say "NO HITTING" then march him to his time out chair and have him sit there for 3 minutes. EVERY TIME. If he gets out of the chair, put him back and start the 3 minutes all over again. Do this as many times as needed.

Tantrums? Walk away and ignore him. Just step over him. If he does this when you are out and about, pick him up carry him to the car and take him home. Tell him he will not be allowed to go anywhere if he continues to throw tantrums.

You are the parent, he is 3. You can do this. I am sending you strength.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

He's a little young to get the message that it's not joking unless everyone is having fun. The victim isn't thinking this is a joke. You can say the words so he starts hearing it - it will help you later when he hits or teases or insults someone and then tries to excuse it by saying he was "only" kidding. I taught my son to watch out for the word "only" - it's usually a way to dismiss someone else's feelings.

For now, you must remove him from the situation every single time he hits. If he hits another child, he gets put in his room (or his car seat if you are out), and the other child gets all your attention. If he hits you, you say "NO. We don't hit, ever." Then you put him down or put him in time out. You take privileges away like TV or toys, but it has to be immediate at this age. It's harder to say, "No you can't watch TV because you hit me an hour ago." Then you can also start rewarding him for using his words and NOT hitting - if he's angry and can start to learn to express it, you can say "I like when you use your words to say you are frustrated". A day without hitting can earn a special privilege, but don't make it a monetary purchase. It can be something like a TV show or a game with you, maybe a special book time, or a nature hike, or whatever. Take away your attention when he misbehaves, other than stopping the behavior and removing him from the situation. Be consistent and don't get discouraged when it doesn't seem to "work" right away - it will. It's more confusing for kids if the answers & responses keep changing.

It's typical for 3 year olds to get frustrated when they don't get their way, yes. But excessive hitting is not acceptable and you need to let him know that. If he has a tantrum, so what? It's not going to help him get his way if you stay strong, and it's not going to help if you engage in yelling back at him (tempting as that is!). Just let him blow off steam in a quiet place, like his room.

When my kid went thru the hitting stage (and his included banging his head into me), he went right in the car seat and we went home - it was a hassle, leaving a restaurant or leaving a cart with groceries. But we left. He learned. It didn't take too long.

Good luck - by the time you get this figured out, he'll be doing something else! LOL

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

something that i did that worked GREAT for a child as young as 2 who was CONSTANTLY hitting when he was expected/neded to do something he did not want to do (e.g. 20x an hour) is a "rule chart" (time outs did not work for this child – the child only laughed). Everything on the rule chart was phrased in the positive and listed his expectations. Next to each rule were pictures from google images or clip art
For example:
Title: [Child’s name]’s Rules
1) I will try to keep my hands down (pictures of kids with their hands down on stuff such as hands down on a hippity-hoppity ball, hands down by the side, etc)
2) I will try to use my words (found pictures of kids signing more and all done) ** if your child says all done but it is something he/she needs to do you say “thank you work using your words to let me know you are all done. But we need to finish. First [non-preferred activity] then you can [preferred activity]
3) I will listen (clip art picture of child with hand to ear for “listen”)
4) I will try my best (pictures of kids concentrating/working hard on activities by self and with peers and adults – e.g playing board games, arts and crafts or other activities)

The rules were used consistently and read frequently throughout the day (especially if you know when the child typically will hit – the rules are read before that activity). If the child hits you immediately go to the rule chart and repeat the rules in your low-firm matter of fact (non-emotional) voice. The second part to this is to CONSTANTLY catch your child doing good behavior and praising him/her for the behavior (e.g. the child I saw hit me 20x in 1 hour so within that time there were times the child was not hitting. I carried the child’s favorite stickers (or stamps) and continually placed them on the child e.g. in a VERY excited voice I would say “I LOVE how you played with your hands on the toy!!! Where should we put the trunk – on your hand or your knee?” ) Within a week the child only hit 5x! Then very rarely after that (the stickers were phased out and only positive words were used).

So make sure the child knows the expectations and catch your child doing good things and praise in an excited positive voice to emphasize what your child is doing right (vs wrong).

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Does he have sensory issues? Some kids need the input that hitting gives them. Read up on sensory integration dysfunction to see if that fits your child. the Out-of-Sync Child is a book that can give you some ideas on how to address sensory issues if this fits him.


answers from Boston on

No one should be hitting a three year old. And of course it would be nice if he wasn't hitting. Diversion is better than a direct approach, try catching his hands and loving him up with no "lesson" in mind, just show him happy positive attention. 3 yr olds are trying to expand their communication and interaction skills and they can get very frustrated with the process.

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