What do you do when your child hurts you (physically) and nothing you've tried before is working?!

Cheryl - posted on 08/29/2010 ( 1 mom has responded )

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I am so embarrassed and hurt by my 4 1/2 yr old son when he hits, punches, throws things at me (it isn't all the time, but more than I can count). I have tried the reasoning, talking, crying, begging, timeout, yelling, spanking, taking toys away......... I am plum out of things to try to enforce that it is not okay to do that! HELP

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Laura - posted on 08/29/2010

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For starters, kids that young do not respond well to reasoning--they just aren't there developmentally to understand. Spanking & yelling, IMO, don't work when trying to deal with violent behavior, such as you are dealing with, because it confuses the message you are trying to teach. Parents shouldn't beg with their kids! You are the parent, the authority figure, and need to make that very clear. This also goes for bribing your child too! Crying is your emotional response to what is going on and your child probably could care less as to why you are crying or what you are crying about. You need to leave that for later! This leaves the actual behavior modification techniques that you say you've tried: timeouts and taking away toys. You will have the best results by actually continuing these methods--consistancy over the long run will eventually give you some positive results. Doing this only once or twice will have little to no effect on your son. That is the key to any type of behavior modification: Consistancy!

You need to react calmly and consistantly to your son's behaviors. Have the same consequence (punishment) for certain behaviors: hitting, kicking, punching & biting will always have a 3-5 minute timout, for example. Throwing objects will result in not only a timeout, but the loss of using that object (assuming he throws a toy) for a day. These are about maximum times for a child his age to be able to accomplish. As he gets older the times can be extended if needed. Do this every time he chooses to use these behaviors.

Finally, has he been evaluated for any behavioral or developmental issues, such as autism or ADHD? Some of the behaviors you discribe are common with kids that have these diagnoses. At the very least you can rule these out as part of his problem. If it turns out he is diagnosed with a behavioral or developmental problem, then you will have professionals there to help guide you through the best treatment options for you and your son. Consistancy and structure in your son's life will still be vitally important, so either way "consistancy" will be your best parenting tool! Blessings to you and your son and good luck!

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