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How can I get my 3.5 year old to understand that hitting is wrong and not acceptable?

My 3.5 year old son is going through a hitting least I hope it's just a phase. He has been hitting kids in school, at sports, and hitting his sister at home. My husband and I were using light spanking as a discipline measure and have stopped as we wondered if this taught him to spank/hit other children. We implement time-out and loss of priveledges (removing toys if/when he throws, skipping dessert if he has a bad day at schol, etc.) but nothing seems to work. He has began "talking-back" to us and repeating what we say to him as we are speaking with him. When asked to do something (eg: take a bath, brush teeth, etc.-) his response is "No, I don't have to." The hitting has seemed to have escalated within the last month, today he pushed a child off the top of a slide at school. The school cites he has continuously engaged in this pushing/hitting behavior and they are at a loss as to what to do to help him stop.

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Asked by Anonymous at 7:59 PM on Aug. 10, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (6)
  • Does he get enough play play time without structure of school? I'd add reminding him throughout the days and nights before activity that hitting hurts another person. Nice words make another person nicer. That's how I broke my daughter of similar behavior. He has to be removed from x activity the second misbehavior starts no matter how many times removed in x amount of time. It's got to be continuous and steady. Maybe put a sticker on his clothes that he's wearing in school for good behavior so he can see how often every second of good behavior is and remove him for bad behavior. Or ask teachers to cheer for all children when good behavior is done and firmly quietly lowkey voice remove bad behavior. It's hard I know.

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:11 PM on Aug. 10, 2009

  • Try reading him the book "Hands are not for hitting". Sorry, it's all I've got right now. I just checked the book out for my 2 year old, although I suspect he may be too young for it.

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:57 PM on Aug. 10, 2009

  • yes you hitting him taught him it is ok

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:44 PM on Aug. 10, 2009

  • Beat his arse.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:26 AM on Aug. 11, 2009

  • My son is also 3.5 and we brought that book that someone else mentioned and he loves it. I've been reading it to him everyday. He has it memorized that's how much I've read it to him. Anyway that is a good book but I will get to my point. My son has always hit/thrown things when he's tired. He was getting worse with the meltdowns so we changed his time out spot to his bedroom and you know what happened the past three days? He fell asleep. We are also removing toys and giving them back one at a time for good behavior. If he misbehaves again the toy gets taken away. I'm hoping it's just a phase too. I'm also reading No More Meltdowns by Jed Baker which I've heard is an excellent book.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:32 AM on Aug. 11, 2009

  • spanking him didn't teach him if he was already doing it! Anyway, I would try giving attention to the one who was hit and completely ignoring him. He'll soon learn that if he hurts someone that person will give something special and he'll get nothing. I would tell his teachers the same. When I say "something special" it can be as little as sitting sister on your lap and giving her a hug because she was hurt or giving her a fun ice pack to help her "heal" her boo boo. A lot of times kids start doing it for the attention, even if it is negative. Give him none. When he does something awesome give him attention.

    Answer by jillybean6781 at 10:30 AM on Aug. 11, 2009

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