We are back with another Ask Away Thursday. This week is about a child that won’t stop hitting. Here are the links if you missed that last few questions.
“I use a non-physical approach when it comes to discipling my son who is three years old. I want to keep it this way. Do you have any advice on how to stop him from hitting? He hits all of the time even when he is happy. I have explained to him why it is not nice to hit. I have also taken away things from him. Time- outs do not seem to work. I really would love some advice”.
I’m actually dealing with the same situation. My daughter was never a hitter. She was the most peaceful child ever, so when her brother came along I was in for a shock. He actually started hitting at a very young age. We would tell him calmly “no hit”. Of course being so young he didn’t understand. Well, his behavior continued as he got older.
I know you said that time-outs don’t work. When I was working in at the daycare, we used redirection. When a child was behaving in a manner that harms other we would redirect their behavior to another behavior. Perhaps that could work for you son. It seems that your son uses hitting as a way to express himself. No matter if he is happy or sad, hitting is how he communicates his feelings.
One thing I suggest is that you teach him a different way to express himself. Next time he hits when he is upset or happy, tell him to hug instead. I have found that most kids can’t resist a hug. The first few times you will have to demonstrate it to him while telling him what you are doing. So when he hits, say “instead of a hit let’s hug”. Give him the biggest bear hug! He’ll love it! You must remain consistent and patient. Overtime, our hope is that the hitting behavior is replaced with hugs!
Also, since he is three I would work on helping him communicate his feelings verbally. Next time he hits say “are you angry”? or “are you happy”? If he nods his had yes, then that’s when you teach him to hug when he is angry or happy. Kids like to have their feelings validated, especially because it’s hard for them to communicate. If he doesn’t know what happy, angry, or sad means you can teach him that as well. You can show him how the different emotions look by making exaggerated faces and actions.
I hope this helps, and if possible please update us on your son.
Please check out the responses from the other moms
What would you do if your child won’t stop hitting?