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3 1/2 year old son is hitting

My 3 1/2 year old son is hitting others when he doesn't get what he wants. No matter what we do, timeout does not work. We have started to take away all of his toys when he acts up. I believe that he's slowly getting the idea. Any suggestions would be very appreciated.


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Asked by Anonymous at 2:56 PM on Sep. 13, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (12)
  • My 2 1/2 year old is going throught the same thing. Nothing is working. Hopefully he will grow out of it. Good luck.

    Answer by SUSAN81900 at 3:00 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • He's too young to connect the loss of toys (that he forgets exist inside 4 minutes) and his frustration. The fact is, punishment doesn't work for people --or dogs, or horses or dolphins-- it is the least effective of all training techniques.

    You're older and smarter than he is, and if I learned anything being around little kids for years, they're predictable and what they're about to do is written all over their bodies. You're also bigger and stronger than him. Which means, when you can see that he's getting frustrated about something, you can hold onto his hands and stop him from hitting anyone, while talking to him about his frustration being normal, and hitting being unacceptable.

    It will take about 4 years for him to develop the alternative skills, and sufficient vocabulary and the ability to express himself in words, negotiate, take turns with children his own age. Until then, he needs constant supervision and guidance.

    Answer by LindaClement at 3:01 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • Take away toys and you will have an angry, resentful child that acts up more. Punishment never teaches good behavior.

    Try to find out the reasons for hitting. Teach him ways of dealing with his emotions, what's ok what's not ok to hit. It's ok to hit the couch, not ok to hit the dog. Praise him when he hits the couch. Reduce the stress in his life. Teach him stress reduction like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, music therapy, ect. Model never hitting.

    Love & Limits is a great book by Elizabeth Crary. She has a website called Star Parenting.


    Answer by Gailll at 3:02 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • I think you are doing right..starting with time outs..get eye level with him and explain there will be no hitting..its not nice. If taking away what he loves is working, then continue to do it. Good Luck Mommy

    Answer by Brittney20 at 3:02 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • Time outs, Take toys away......

    Answer by sstepph at 3:07 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • Someone suggested keep doing time outs, taking things away, and to get eye level and explain no hitting..its not nice.

    The mother already said time outs don't work. Two of us have addressed taking things away. Why don't mini-lectures work? Kids aren't at a developmental stage where they have true empathy. It's not nice requires empathy. Some adults don't have empathy. Another reason it might not work is because the kid was probably hitting because they didn't want to be nice. So if hitting is not nice then they got it right! If parents hit then it sends a mixed message kids aren't nice because they hit but it's ok for parents hit. It becomes too confusing. If you must mini-lecture, "you may not hit" or something simple without the word no would be better. Kids tune out no.


    Answer by Gailll at 3:12 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • Different things work for different children, based on their temperament and personality. Check out the New Strong-willed child by Dr. James Dobson, or Love and Logic

    Answer by crazycappuccino at 3:37 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • this may seem wrong but i used to hit my son back to show him how it felt to get hit and he stopped because that was no fun and he learned it was not nice to do

    Answer by vlester at 9:27 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • take stuff away & timeout

    Answer by Ashlynnsmommy07 at 10:40 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • Have you really talked to him about it? I would suggest offering some constructive ways of communicating as an alternative. "When you hit other people it hurts them and you get in trouble. Use your words and say 'Please don't touch me' or 'May I have that toy' instead". Children under 4 have almost NO impulse control, that's why they bite, hit, push that's all trying to learn and teach them and their bodies more verbal and less primal ways of expressing themselves.
    If he has a lot of physical energy, perhaps he needs more activity too?
    I would reserve "time out" for REALLY SERIOUS things...even then, I'd always make sure there is communication; explaining to him WHY he's being punished. This works for my 2 1/2 year old a lot of the time...just letting him be heard so he's not frustrated and he can communicate what he wants. Then I can help show him the better way to GET what he wants.

    Answer by boomamma at 12:06 AM on Sep. 14, 2010

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