Ask a Question!My son is 3 yrs old, and he tends to be really aggressive at times, as far as hitting, kicking, slapping at you, ect. I do the time out chair, and it doesn't seem to be working he still does this to his father and I, and also to children at school. Any suggestions for dealing with this?

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Cara - posted on 03/03/2009

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It is not uncommon for children of this age to be aggressive. It could be frustration at not being able to communicate his feelings/wants verbally. Its important to keep up with the time out so he learns this behaviour is not acceptable and he should grow out of it once he learns a different way of expressing himself.

Pauline - posted on 03/03/2009

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It is really hard.  My son (who is 5) would hit, bite, scratch and scream at us when he was angry, scared, frustrated, you name it.  We worked really hard with him and he's getting much better.  We did time outs when he would act out physically, but I would really work hard to try and defuse things before he would get there.  It seemed like several things made a big difference.






1) hunger and fatigue.  When he was too hungry or too tired he would loose it much more quickly, I really kept up the between mean snacks and, at least quiet time, if he would not nap until he was almost 4. 






2) Consistancy.  He really needed to have as much consistancy from day to day as possible in terms of schedule, care givers, etc.  This was really difficult because my schedule is always changing.  Every time this would happen he would decompensate.






3) Helping him to put words to his emotions.  When he would get frustrated both I and our nanny would help him express his emotions in an acceptable way and praise him when he did. 






4) Positive rewards for good behaivor was helpful.  We would do a jelly bean at bath time for a "no time out day".






5) Being very consistant with consequency for acting out physically.  We did a time out in his room where he could really calm down in a quiet place.  I would set a timer he could hear go off so he'd know when the time out was over.






6) Help build empathy by talking about how he feels when someone hits him.  When my sone was going to day care other kids would bite him or hit him and we could talk about it. 






Good luck.  It is a phase and will get better, but it takes time and he has to develop some emotional security and coping skills. 



Judith Ann - posted on 03/03/2009

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Hi. I want to re-assure you, it will pass. I work in a special-needs/Autistic school, but was still surprised and disturbed by the behaviour my son could present! It actually took some drastic action to get us through it! I had started to hold my son in a tight, comfort hold - watching for the head, when all else seemed to fail, until it was pointed out to me that by doing that, he got the attention and my daughter, who had often been the subject of his abuse, had to entertain herself. I then started to use our front porch. We have a seat out there and he has to sit there for his time out - unable to see what is going on elsewhere, and therefore missing out! It began to work - but no where near as good as starting nursery, turning four and, believe it or not, the New Year!

I would just like to tell you, you do the best you can, but, sooner or later, they just grow out of it themselves - don't lose hope though - there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Eve - posted on 03/03/2009

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I made 3 Thomas the Tank Engine magnets for my son. When he misbehaved I would put one up on the fridge. If he went all day without getting all three hung up then he would get a special treat. If I hung all three he would have to go to his room for 5 minutes. It worked really well. It gave him something concrete to look at to see how he was behaving. I don't think he wanted to disappoint Thomas! Eventually we didn't even need them anymore.  

Paulette - posted on 03/03/2009

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Hi April, I would find a common thread to why he is chosing to be aggessive. Is it out of fustration? Is he see examples of this kind of behavior (innocent or not) (television, etc.)? Have things changed in the household and is his aggressive behavior more recent? I would read the books by Jo Frost from the show Supernanny. She gives examples of discipline without spanking.

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Miranda - posted on 12/08/2011

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My son is like this too so bad he head buts me and on several occasions has caused visual marks bloody lips he is wayyy too rough with the dogs...I am home with him all day and really takes a toll when he will run up to a dog or me and hit for no reason...usually I think he is frustrated with something...but on one hand he has no problem communicating he started talking 1st words dog duck at 6mths and full sentences well by 18mth no problems in that department he just looks through you when you talk to him.

User - posted on 03/05/2009

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Hi April, I work at a school where our children often need some behavioral stratagies to shape better behavior.  Most of my students have behavior plans that include positive reinforcement, teaching stratagies and a last resort of time out.   



 Its very important to identify why the hitting/kicking behavior is happening.  Is he trying to get  attention whether positive or negative? Does he have a hard time communicating wants and needs, or maybe can't get his feelings across appropriately?  Does he have trouble coping with frustration or his emotions?



1.  Reinforce good behavior. We find that reinforcing positive behavior is the most effective stratagy but it takes time and you have to be consistant..   Make a big fuss and praise positive behaviors, "such as hugging friends, using his words to express frustration before hitting, etc..



2. Try a sticker chart..  Place a sticker on daily reward chart every time he plays with others appropriately, shares, uses gentle hands, uses words to communicate wants and needs.. etc..   Make a big fuss everytime he earns at sticker.  If at the end of the day he earns all 5 possible  stickers for the day, he gets a special  reward before bed (you deside what that is)  .. Less than 5??  Then discuss at the end of the day how he can do better tomarrow and work harder at earning his reward. 



3.  Teach him stratagies to use when he's upset, like using his words, not his hands or feet



4.  Ignore negative attempts for attention.. If he he is hitting or kicking you, simply turn your head, walk away and give no facial reaction or eye contact.. Keep doing what your doing.  When he uses his word to say something like..  I"m mad at you mommy!!    Then turn and say, " Okay then, if you can keep you hands and feet quiet,  I want to sit with you and talk about your feelings.  Remeber to teach him how he can more appropriate get your attention.



5.  Set rules, and a consequence.  1 warnings and then time out.  Just remember that a 3 year old won't remember that he had a warning earlier in the morning..



 

Verna - posted on 03/05/2009

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My nephew was a little like that but his mother never followed through with any punishment. It was always "do it again and I'll smack" Ha, she never got off her ass to do anything. I told her to stop with empty threats and actually follow through. Anyways, If your giving him the attention when he has this bad behaviour he has won. If you ignore what you can, he should start to subside. However some kids just don't know when to give up. He may feel that he is not getting enough attention from you and by displaying bad behaviour, it gets all of your un invited attention. The time out thing is good, we used to have spots in the house for my girl to sit where it was really boring, nothing to touch or look at. Then when she got a bit older, i confiscated toys. That worked a treat!!! Kids from what i've seen will act up in any possible way because they are lacking in something. I have a book called "Toddler taming" it is fantastic. He says, award good behaviour and ignore the bad. don't feel like a monster if your child cries out for you they are just trying to get more of your attention by any means possible.

Janine - posted on 03/05/2009

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I'm glad you feel that way, I wondered afterwards if I might get told to mind my own business :-D



I am 25 and I have three boys, 8, 5 and 3. Believe me, I know what you are going through!  I am a non smacker, so people often feel that my children get away with more than they should and I have defended my parenting choices for the last 8 1/2 years. I went and did a PPP positive parenting course, which was fantastic.  



I was a little defensive yesterday, because not long before I read your post I had been at the shops with my 3 yr old and when it was time to leave he had a tantrum in the car. I could not get him to sit in his seat or get his seatbelt on, so after almost ten mins of struggling and feeling very frustrated, I closed his door (child locks on) went and sat in the front seat and read for a little while in the front seat with the air on and some soft music. After about 15 minutes of me not paying attention he climbed into his seat and whimpered that he wanted to go home. He wasn't happy to miss out on the milkshake he was supposed to get, but I don't think he had any tantrum left in him.



But, as you said of your son, this is just one part. He is sweet and loving and funny and smart and all things wonderful (when he's not busy being a demon) and it seems to me that you are a great mother for acknowldeging all those things.  Sorry to go on and on...... 



Just so you know, they get over it :-D

April - posted on 03/05/2009

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Quoting Janine:



Quoting Jacquie:




when does he do this, is he bored, does he have enough activity and child and parent time.  is he just a boisterous naughty 3 year old. are there other children that he could be jealous of, do you spend more time with them than him. Can you not talk to him and ask him, when you are both in a calm mood doing something nice together, like at the park having fun, baking cakes.  He might just tell you his problem










I'm sure you were trying to be helpful, but I think this post sounds a little simplistic and even judgemental. I hope April doesn't feel uncomfortable or that she is being judged for posting this issue, as it is a major one for a lot of parents and I know sometimes people can under estimate the complexity of such things. 





Thank you! I appreciate all the advice/helpful hints I can get, I am only 24 yrs old with a 3 yr old boy, and I am not ashamed to share that my son has a mean side, My son is classified as all boy and from what I hear from others with boys it's not uncommon for kids to behave or react certain ways. I'm just glad to know I am not the only one who has a child who is sometimes a more "difficult" case. My son has a very loving, fun, and polite side too, he doesn't act like this all the time just seems to be the way he voices his anger so to ask if my child is a boisterous 3 yr old and assuming that I may be uncalm with his is wrong.  He is 3 and working on getting him to express himself in other ways other then hitting, and kicking is what we are working on now as parents.



I appreciate that you did not judge me and found the one reply to be judgemental, I thought maybe it was just me being a parent and trying to protect and defend him. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought this.

Janine - posted on 03/04/2009

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Quoting Jacquie:



when does he do this, is he bored, does he have enough activity and child and parent time.  is he just a boisterous naughty 3 year old. are there other children that he could be jealous of, do you spend more time with them than him. Can you not talk to him and ask him, when you are both in a calm mood doing something nice together, like at the park having fun, baking cakes.  He might just tell you his problem






I'm sure you were trying to be helpful, but I think this post sounds a little simplistic and even judgemental. I hope April doesn't feel uncomfortable or that she is being judged for posting this issue, as it is a major one for a lot of parents and I know sometimes people can under estimate the complexity of such things. 

Bridgette - posted on 03/03/2009

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Judith, my son had tubes put in his ears and his adnoids removed about a year ago and it didnt help. Sorry to tell you that, but every child is different so it might work for you. Good Luck.



My son too does not have an attachment to anything. So taking something away will not work. I noticed that since his baby sister arrived he actually has gotten better, which is a good thing. I think Im going to try the emotions thing... that might work. At this point im willing to try anything! LOL

Jacquie - posted on 03/03/2009

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when does he do this, is he bored, does he have enough activity and child and parent time.  is he just a boisterous naughty 3 year old. are there other children that he could be jealous of, do you spend more time with them than him. Can you not talk to him and ask him, when you are both in a calm mood doing something nice together, like at the park having fun, baking cakes.  He might just tell you his problem

Judith - posted on 03/03/2009

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my 3 year old son Joe is just the same,we are even under the paed doc. next week joe is going to have grommits in his ears and adonnoids out and have been told this will really improve his behaviour !!!!? Fingers crossed, he is such a loving boy when he is in the mood.but a nightmare when he isnt

April - posted on 03/03/2009

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My son doesn't have any attachments to a toy, a stuffed animal, a pillow/blanket, ect. Now this is and it isn't a problem, it isn't a problem b/c I don't really have anything to break him of in the future i.e thumb sucking, or carrying a old blankie around, but it is a problem b/c my son doesn't like to entertain himself, and doesn't seem interested in any toys he has. He does like books which is good, but he has no attachment to the point where he would get upset if I take it away. As I have mentioned my son is a very busy guy, he has gotten better since we started seeing the behavorial specialist, but he's a sponge and anything he happens to hear or see for that matter he picks up in an instant, thus creating different issues and problems. He's really smart and a real sweetheart, he knows how to be affectionate but when he's angry boy is he angry.

Melanie - posted on 03/03/2009

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Has your son got a special toy or teddy he loves. My son was exactly the same so when he kicked off i put his favourite teddy in a see-through box called the "naughty box" so that he could see it.I made no eye contact or rose to his temper.Then the moment he calmed down i didn't say a word but got his teddy out of the box and gave it to him.If he started again it went back in.Kids are very quick learners and he soon got the message.My son has just gone 5 and now all i have to say is "do u want ur ds to go in the naughty box" works a dream . It's learnt Benjie how to calm down by himself.

Hope this helps !!!!

Paulette - posted on 03/03/2009

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Hi, I think a lot of what Pauline had to say was correct but I would tweek it a little. I would use your sons' bedroom for quiet time/quiet play say after being at preschool so he could unwind. This would be after you ask him about his day. I would use this if he won't nap too. Being consistent is a big thing for kids because it shows them what they can expect. I would suggest a picture schedule too. That way he know what to expect and what to do next in the course of his day. When giving him his time outs I would place him on a stool in a place where he cannot see the tv, talk to anyone else or be entertained in any manner. Online you can find websites where they have pictures to use for the schedule or for his emotions (happy, sad, angry and tired). This will help with Pauline's points #5 and 6. Let us know if some of this helps. Take care.

Stacy - posted on 03/03/2009

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My son had tubes and that was the best thing they could of done for him. He has not had an ear infection since and it's been almost 9 years.

Bridgette - posted on 03/03/2009

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Sounds just like my son Austin!! I get so embarrassed that I dont like taking him out to the park or what not. He doesnt listen very well either. He will run off, not hold my hand.. I dont do playdates because he is aggressive to the other kids!

April - posted on 03/03/2009

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My son will also hit complete strangers, it seems to be when he gets wound up or excited about stuff. I try to displine him to the best of my ability, we did see a behavioral specialist and he told me that Cameron is a normal 3 yr old boy but also has hyper-impulsive disorder which is not ADHD just that he is very active and always on the go.

Paulette - posted on 03/03/2009

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I work with a behavioralist and they say that how we respond as parents to their anger is important because they can get something from it whether we are aware of it or not.

Bridgette - posted on 03/03/2009

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I am in the same boat as you! My son will be 3 in June but is very aggressive with others. Not only does he hit, kick etc to his sister but also to complete stranger if we go to the park. We too have done the time out, leaving as soon as it happens so he doesnt play anymore, getting down to his level in a firm voice and tell him no and that it hurts....looking for advice too!!

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