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How do i stop my 3 yr. old from bitting, hitting, and throwing objects.

My three year old son, is the sweetest boy. When he gets upset he hits and throws things. I've sat him on timeout, doesn't work, I've asked, and explained throwing and hitting are not good.. He doesn't listen. When he bites, its out of excitement and frustration. Have told him many time, biting is for food, not people. I'm stuck... Nothing seems to work.. Help please?

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Asked by e.phillips at 9:17 PM on Mar. 24, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 1 (3 Credits)
Answers (7)
  • You need to remove him from the situation and let him express his anger by hitting something that is appropriate. When my son throws a tantrum I let him cool off in his room and he can hit, kick, and bite his pillow and stuffed animals all he wants. You need to talk to him about tantrums before they occur and what he is allowed to do to release the anger. Once he has calmed down try to talk to him about what upset him.

    Answer by amandajoy21 at 9:32 PM on Mar. 24, 2013

  • Remove him from the situation. Take away whatever it is that he is throwing or mistreating. Talk to him when he has calmed down not during the situation. Give him the verbal skills to express himself. Show you understand and care.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 9:58 PM on Mar. 24, 2013

  • Sometimes, just showing you understand that he is upset, and why, will diffuse a temper tantrum. When you are at home and he wants something he can't have, try saying, "Honey, I know you want to go outside. You want out, out, out, out!" Wave your arms and raise your voice. Stomp your feet, even if you feel silly. After a moment, he'll probably laugh. He'll feel heard. Then you can say something like, "It's raining now. See the water? When the sun comes out, we'll go for a walk." Eventually, as his verbal skills grow, he'll feel more heard without the dramatics.

    Answer by Ballad at 11:11 PM on Mar. 24, 2013

  • Focus on what you want, not what you DON'T want. This is a matter of understanding that it's happening for a reason (which clearly you already do!), and conveying this understanding in the way you respond. So instead of telling him what biting ISN'T for (or how he should bite only food, which still is focused on NOT biting people, i.e., focused on what you DON'T want), provide the alternative for what he CAN do when he's feeling that way. Treat it as a lack--it's happening because he lacks knowledge & ability for what TO do in those stressful situations. He's just at a lost when stressed. (He's doing what he's doing because he doesn't know a better way, not because he's bad/willful.)
    When you offer him guidance by providing an alternative, you're conveying your accurate understanding of him & your acceptance of him.
    So give it some thought. What should he do when he's excited or frustrated?
    Hitting & throwing happen

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:55 AM on Mar. 25, 2013

  • when he's upset, and they happen because he's not thinking well, NOT because he doesn't understand that they aren't good things to do. So telling him they're not good, or explaining that he can't hit/throw, don't change anything in the moment.
    If he is very overwhelmed, he will be impulsive & you probably need to get in close & provide a physical limit. A limit that doesn't let him hit & prevents him from throwing something. It should be a "protective use of force," which means the least amount necessary. With a child who has had a lot of support for his "big" feelings, a hand resting on or just above his can be all the limit required, just the gentle signal that you're not going to let him throw this toy, but you are "there" for his feelings. A child who is overwhelmed might need to be held.
    I find that a physical limit doesn't require verbalizing the same thing. The limit is implicit. Your words can be focused on validating

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:02 AM on Mar. 25, 2013

  • the feelings expressed by the behavior. So instead of responding directly (verbally) to the hitting & saying "I won't let you hit me," you can let the fact that you are physically preventing the behavior speak for itself, and respond to the CHILD and his EMOTIONS with your words. In general, it's wiser to state what you can observe rather than to "name feelings," when possible. So just acknowledge what happened. You're holding him to prevent his hitting or throwing, and you say "You didn't like it when I said no. You were having fun & wanted to keep doing X." This isn't the time for explaining why you did what you did, or why you decided he couldn't have/do something, just the time for acknowledging what happened and how he didn't like it! Show that it makes sense to be angry.
    That can be "enough." He gets through his feelings & emerges.
    You also can convey understanding for the hitting/throwing (it happens because he's so

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:07 AM on Mar. 25, 2013

  • upset!) But hitting hurts; throwing hurts, or breaks things. (This is another area for focusing on what you DO want.) Possible response: "When you feel like hitting/throwing, you just need help. So ask for help, instead."
    A 3 year old likely understands that hitting hurts (he doesn't lack the info, just is having trouble thinking & has poor impulse control when overwhelmed with strong feelings.) So explaining that those things are problems because they hurt is likely unnecessary. But you can convey your understanding for why he hits (feelings!) & how he just needed help.
    It's not that if you respond this way, he then will stop in the moment & "ask for help" when upset! It's more that by providing this info, you're showing acceptance for the feelings that drive the behavior. This acceptance will shift things over time. (Time out & verbal corrections won't, because they ignore the underlying causes & just reject the behavior.)

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:23 AM on Mar. 25, 2013

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