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For those of you who practice non-punitive parenting or don't do conventional "Time out"...

What do you do to curb hitting/physical outward behavior in a preschooler? (age 3)

I am feeling unsure as to WHAT to do or say when my son hits me at this point. I end up getting so mad it makes things worse and I want to find a peaceful way to handle it, but things are SO stressful right now I draw a blank.

I feel like I should be just redirecting it, ignoring it and changing the energy (Lets go outside!") or something like that...because that is usually WHY it is happening...BUT...I don't want him to be allowed to hit. I feel torn in a way.
What do non-punitive parents do with a situation like this? I am trying to move in that direction, because I find that punishment just creates MORE power struggle and misery...and non-punishment methods work better day to day in building trust...but HOW to do it is the question.
Thanks for any advice!!!

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 10:07 PM on Jun. 24, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (4)
  • Small frequent rewards. If the rewards are too far spaced, the child loses track of them and won't work towards them. Space the rewards according to how often he is hitting you. If he is hitting you once an hour, you make the reward for two hours. If he doesn't hit you for two hours, he gets a fruit snack. Remain consistent and eventually work up the time frame.


    If he hits you, I wouldn't redirect by rewarding him. I would firmly say that we do not hit people and you will not be playing with a child that hits. Then I would walk away. Go do something without him for five minutes. When the five minutes are up, ask him if he would like to play nicely now.

    Kids continue to do things because it gets a reaction. Eliminate the reaction and eventually eliminate the behavior.

    Answer by marybeth927 at 10:18 PM on Jun. 24, 2011

  • The only way to get my DD to stop the behavior that I feel is inappropriate is to use "traditional" time out. It has been working for lying and getting into things that she shouldn't be doing. The hitting issue should be dealt with in what ever manner you feel will work for your child. With issues of physical contact with my child she was issued the same sort of behavior to get my point across and never enough to hurt her. It worked and we have never had to deal with the issues again.

    Answer by coala at 10:20 PM on Jun. 24, 2011

  • marybeth927 - I pretty much have done the second thing you suggested. I always said "we don't hit" or "hands are for high fives, hugs" etc...but I don't think that is working. I think I need to try ONE thing VERY consistently for at least a week straight to KNOW it's not working though...because I do tend to flip flop on what to do...out of uncertainty.

    Time out...has become a joke IMO. I DID try it for a a chair, with a timer...the whole shebang. He either WON'T stay and runs around the house...or he puts himself there and makes it a game. WAY too smart and fresh this kid half the time...but that's a bad day.
    I'm reacting to wanting him to NOT HURT people/me...and that makes me very I'm not thinking clearly.

    Coala - you said time out for lying, but I'm confused by that...unless your child is older.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 10:41 PM on Jun. 24, 2011

  • My son did the same thing with Time out. He thought it was a game and it was fun for him.
    We always repeat the phrase "Hands are for hugging, not hitting." It didn't always work, but I always said it. But the key is, you have to walk away and not talk to him or play with him. He will probably be try to get your attention. I just pretended that I didn't even hear him talking. Then when the time was up, I pretended like nothing happened.

    I do agree with you that you must be consistent. But you can try both at the same time. How we did the reward system is I got a posterboard and made it into a chart with squares big enough to put stickers on. I explained the system to him. If you go 2 hours with out doing it, you get a sticker. If you go 4 hours without doing it, you get a fruit snack. My son loved putting stickers on his chart. When chart is full, big reward. Chuck E Cheese or toy. Encourage him to fill it.

    Answer by marybeth927 at 10:52 PM on Jun. 24, 2011

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