Baby Hints & Tips

3 Year Old Who Hits and Kicks

3 year old who hits and kicks at their parents. I’m at my wits end!! My 3 yo is acting out terribly!! He is fine for everyone else just not for me. Hitting kicking hurting swearing. Last night he was smacking me with a metal garlic press. Negotiating and saying no doesn’t work. Taking toys away doesn’t work. Where do I turn for for help. I feel so down and teary. I love him so much, but if he didn’t come home from care today id be glad. Harsh words but he has drawn me to my tether. Yes he is only three and probably doesn’t understand, but I’m at my wits end and don’t know what to do. Tips and hints on how to handle this calmly and gently would be appreciated.

  • Have a look at 1-2-3 Magic. Catie

  • Ask my 2.5 yo to do anything and it’s “No”. Just getting from bed to the kitchen in the morning needs hostage negotiator skills. I have been pushed and hit. I try to remain calm and get down on his level. Try to explain that’s not appropriate and if he keeps acting that way he can go to his room because I don’t want to e around him when he is like that. Sometimes asking “do you need a cuddle?” Or “are you upset?” And get them to explain what’s going on. Ask him/her what they can do to make it better. Positive attention when they do something good…. But in my case I think he’s used to having too much attention. All these things are easy to say but in reality it’s tough. Really exhausting. Try to have some time for yourself and get someone else to watch him? Apparently it gets easier?! Claire
  • Have you tried talking to your mchn they can guide you to the services whether it be for yourself or your child .Megan
  • We have a naughty corner and our 3 yr old responds well to that. Find the least exciting spot in ur home and designate it the naughty corner. Worth a try. Megan
  • Id strongly recommend getting the help of a professional. You could be eligible for a care plan which would include visits to psychologists, behaviorists, etc. In the mean time, you need to work hard (and it will be hard!), on celebrating any little positive thing that he does. Praising him for his success “mummy loves when you put your cup back on the table”, etc. Sounds like he has learnt to get negative attention from you, which is better than none. Try REALLY hard not to react to negative interaction, he will get bored. If you’re yelling back or crying, it’s a victory in his eyes. Tanya
  • Darl, firstly big hugs. Secondly clearly he does understand bc he only does it with you & not others
    Welcome to the feral 3s!
    This is where you need to be strong firm & consistent.
    He will understand the basic concept of consequences.
    If he does so,etching wrong you say NO! And take him straight to a spot for time out.
    Not in his room where there are toys & things to entertain himself.
    Get a mat, place it in the hall, the laundry the bathroom & make him sit there for 3 mins at least & 3 mins of sitting still & being quiet
    Once he’s done that then you have to get him to explain what he did wrong apologise & then give him a kiss & cuddle & say go play nicely.
    You will have a few days where he will push & push hard but you need to be strong & firm
    Consistency consistency consistency is most important
    And even for little things don’t let him get away with it as of he knows he can he will.
    Stay strong & stay firm & he will fall in line. Sherree

  • Welcome to the world of toddlers they say terrible 2’s are bad, 3s are much worse. My 3 year old responds to time out!! First is a warning then he has a corner he sits in for 3 mins! He knows now to stop mis behaving or he’s going to time out!! Takes a week or two for them to remember who is boss but it really works!! And good luck mum you are doing a great job sometimes we just feel like we are surviving to get to the end of the day but write that day off and move to the next and make the next day better x Andrea
  • Time outs. Or look up the positive parenting program PPP or 123 magic. Alison
  • Little ones who are feeling stressed or emotional will often act out at home or with their primary caregiver because you are the one person they feel totally safe with. It’s hard to take, but it’s actually a backhanded compliment because he trusts you with his big scary feelings. Has something changed for him recently, at home or at daycare, that might be causing him stress? Or maybe just a big developmental growth spurt had made him feel uneasy?
    Given that it sounds like he is acting out (not just pushing boundaries), and negative consequences don’t seem to be having any effect, maybe try some positive attention.
    Do you have the option of some really positive, one-to-one attention (before he escalates to violence and bad behaviour) and see if you can reset your relationship and how you are both feeling? My son is younger, but I find that if he is having a rough day, saying “do you need a cuddle?” (and giving one) can help him take a fresh approach to the next activity, etc.
    If you can make it happen, you could do a whole day of activities with just the two of you; but even after daycsre just having a cuddle, reading a story, building a tower, or playing trains for 20min might help him. You could even say “I notice you’ve been having a hard time lately, and I would like to help you. How about we spend some special time together before I make dinner?” Or he could help you make dinner by fetching things, or putting cutlery on the table.
    If you are hurting as much as you are, your little guy must be hurting too. I hope you can find a way to reconnect, and fill both of your emotional tanks. Janey
  • Big hug mum!! I have a 2 year old boy and he’s the same. It’s hard to be patient all the time and I really feel for you.
    Naughty corner works well, distraction and if I do something with him.
    I find he does it more when I’m rushing around. So sometimes I think it’s his way to make me slow down.

    Might be time for a YOU day x Megan
  • *big hugs* Honestly I think you’ve been too gentle and it’s gotten far out of control. it’s time to really start disciplining him. Smacking usually causes them to smack back so I’d leave that as a very last resort. Time out BY HIMSELF is what we’d do. I stress by himself as that affects them more. we would put her in the hallway for dangerous or extremely naughty behavior and close the door. If you don’t have a hallway door then the bedroom may work or any room where you can close the door. Afterwards I get her to tell me what she did wrong. Why it’s wrong. Then I ask her if she’s ready to be a good girl. Then I make her clean up her mess (wiping marker off walls etc). If she doesn’t want to be good then it’s back to the room. She’s usually hysterical sobbing but after she’s cleaned it up I give her cuddles. It’s ok if they cry hysterically in timeout away from everyone. Let them. I guarantee they aren’t likely to repeat the behaviour after a few times. I can count the number of solitary timeouts on one hand. She’s 4. We don’t tolerate hurting people. Honestly if she smacked me with something and hurt me then there’d be serious repercussions to her behavior. We’ve never allowed it so she doesn’t do it. No and timeout worked but timeout alone works best. I’m going to add it’s taught her that if she gets angry then instead of throwing things or hurting people she sends herself to her room or a room at Nan and pop’s. We let her have her tantrums but we maintain that we don’t need to be subjected to them so she can go to her room. It works.
    The only thing I can recommend is play with your child more. You may be more chore focused and so he acts out whereas other people play with him. If you show him more love you may receive more from him. Be consistent. Don’t baby him. He’s fully capable of understanding unless he has a developmental problem. Melissa
  • If things do escalate to the point where he is violent; you can still be gentle while firmly saying “I won’t let you hit me. Hitting hurts.” and taking the object he is using as a weapon, and either holding him in a firm cuddle to stop his arms flailing, or offering him a alternative to hit (“I won’t let you hit me; but I can see you feel very angry. You can hit this pillow, or stamp your feet.” (or another safe alternative for him to let out the physical side of his emotion.) Janet
  • My sister had problems with her daughter and was finally referred to a child chiropractor that also practices kinesiology. Thru this they found that she had a few issues. i.e. her dog died when she was 2 1/2 so everytime her father went away for work she thought he wouldn’t come back just like her dog. The chiro worked on her mentally and physically as she had quite a traumatic birth. She was at her wits end and things have changed for both of them. Maria
  • People say the terrible 2’s. That’s nothing. The 2’s are great. It’s when they turn 3!! It’s a nightmare. But it doesn’t last long. My daughter went though the terrible 3’s for about 9 months.
    It sounds like you are struggling so I would suggest some professional help to get you over this trying period.
    Just breathe you are not alone. Kirri
  • Possibly try a behavior chart? When he gets so many stickers or stars for good behavior he gets a treat/prize? However when he is mean, have him stand in a corner for a 2/3 minute time out? Tiffany
  • I have an almost 3 and a half year old daughter. She is funny and hilarious and awesome. But i also believe that she may be the spawn of satan lol. ‘I can do it all myself!’ And ‘don’t you tell me anything, I’ll do what i want!’ Are 2 of her favourite sayings. She actually said to my husband the other day ‘i like yelling at mummy because it makes her crazy’ So when she tried it on next, i sat on the floor next to her and waited. Didn’t say a word. By the end she was crying because she couldn’t get what she wanted and she didn’t get the reaction from me she wanted either. I couldn’t do it all the time but i did get a laugh. Sometimes you gotta laugh lol Callie
  • Have you tried taking the offending object from him, giving him a hug and saying “i love you but what you are doing is not nice. Please stop” then stop whatever you are doing and sit him down and ask him how his day etc was. Possible he just missed you so much and feels frustrated that you aren’t paying him enough attention?
    Someone else mentioned whether there had been big changes recently? That would be a factor too.
    My 20 month old daughter act out when i’m trying to cook. I found that putting her sitting on the kitchen bench and giving her some fruit works to detract her from violent behaviour.
    Good luck, you are doing a great job Regine
  • Your child is prob acting like that because he wants quality time, and positive attention. But use that in conjunction with the naughty spot/time out. Stick to the discipline. When his time is over try to switch off the annoyance and find something positive. Sarah
  • Could U look at his diet? Make sure he’s getting healthy foods, low in sugar, and preservatives etc. We found even white rice would send our kids manic so changed to brown rice which was a lot better to manage. Clearly foods aren’t the primary problem for you but it does sometimes take down the level of aggression n contentiousness. Things I’ve found that have helped me with my four, are 1-clear boundaries 2- simplify to single instructions… 3-consistency with whatever discipline technique you choose 4-find positives in as much of what they do as possible and emphasize with masses of praise when they get something right creating light bulb moments for them 5- forgive them out loud, and ask them to forgive you when you lose it (even the 2& 3yr olds). It helps reinforce that we all make mistakes , we are human and sets good foundations for life long relationships. 6- make sure you are all getting enough sleep. Ultimately don’t give up, it does get easier… as they get older and are better at communicating etc. Jo
  • Whenever our 3 yr old has a tantrum or is a little monster we just repeatedly put her in her room for 3 minutes, sometimes having to hold the door closed while she screams with rage, until she has ‘turned her attitude around’ initially it took 5-7 times but after 6 months she can turn it around after 1 time. It helps us to stay calm and we think it gives her time to cool down on her own Kelly
  • Also look at fedup.com.au to see if he has an intolerance to food allergies. They can be responsible for terrible behavior Kelly
  • Check out Aha parenting, some great gentle advice for managing difficult behaviour and addressing reasons behind it Sarah
  • There are plenty of factors that can add up to that all, but 3 year olds understand more than we give them credit for. There is something that he specifically needs or wants from you (since he doesn’t do it with others) but he can’t verbalize it. He also knows your boundaries/what he’s allowed to do with you as opposed to others. Be consistent with whatever you do. I don’t feel that “negotiating” is a good tactic – you as a parent are in charge. As some have said- look into his diet as well. It sounds crazy, but as a child I could not have anything that was artificially colored with red – it made me act out quite badly. Does he need more one-on-one time? More physical activity and less TV/processed sugar (pent up energy can cause outbursts)? Maybe a special activity or routine that he can do with you, and lots of praise for being good. Best of luck. Kandice
  •  I get down to my daughters level and say that’s not good behaviour and you are going to time out.
    She is 2 1/2 so 2 minutes she sits on her bed and bring her out and she says sorry for hitting.
    Sometimes it’s due to boredom and you can tell the difference.

    If its boredom I give her one on one time and play together.
    Doesn’t happen very often. So we are lucky.
    Goodluck Katrina
  • Time out works wonders my son gets three warnings and then in tine out if he gets off his bed well then he’s in there longer it took a week for him to realise that if he gets off he will be in there longer Hannah
  • My guy went through a bit of this… I would get down to his level, hold his wrists firmly and explained why hurting people isn’t nice and it makes them sad. And when you make people sad you need to say sorry to make them happy again. Then time out in room for a couple of minutes. Then go in and explain why. Just saying no didn’t work for my son, but when he understood that his actions were hurting my feelings the behaviour stopped. Yes he still has his moments, if he doesn’t say sorry with a hug and a kiss too it’s straight to bedroom. (No toys in our kids rooms ( Mieke

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