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A three year old tests boundaries and is constantly learning social rules. If he hits, he may be expressing himself the way he knows how or testing what's allowable. Show him hitting others is not acceptable; one good method is leaving him alone when he hits, showing him that others don't want to share the company of one who hurts others. Social alienation is a powerful tool. Once he learns he gains more attention by not hitting, he'll stop. What's it like to be THREE? This stage of a child's life is highly developmental. What the child exhibits is mainly a mix of observed behaviors and manifestations of personal feelings. Those things perceived by the child as beneficial for resolution to the conflicts they face are employed as coping mechanisms for dealing with daily life. If the child is exposed to a venue in which combat is portrayed as something other than detrimental and painful, that will be a basis for the forming of that child's behaviors. The discernment between what is seen by an adult as spoof and that which is known to be real-life has not fully developed in a child of this age. This serves to foster a testing environment for the child's reasoning abilities, making for mixes of behaviors which, sometimes, are funny; and, at other times, are highly embarrassing--- if not totally outrageous. If the child receives a laugh as a consequence of the exhibition of a certain behavior in one situation, the child does not understand why the same laugh is not provided in another circumstance which may not be conducive to laughter. If the child has few outlets in which frustrations may vent appropriately, these frustrations will be exhibited in ways that are unpredictable; and, the most-heard words in a child's world are 'don't', 'no', 'stop', 'quit', 'sit down', 'behave', 'leave that alone', 'be quiet', 'I said so'... That's a lot of negativity and little direction. If an adult is put under similar constraints which rob them of personal power and identity, they become sociopathic. When a child endures such a life, it is seen as normal--- and largely ignored. Added to that is the lack of inhibition normally understood by adults to be a proper attribute, and which lack is part of which contributes to the exuberance of a child, and the situation becomes clearer. The key to handling difficulties which arise is INVOLVEMENT. You must, as a parent or guardian or caregiver, be part of the world in which the child lives. You are perceived as being a 'BIG' person: You're older, you're taller, you're stronger, you get to do things without asking anyone else, you can come and go as you please, and you KNOW stuff... To a kid, you are what they hope to be like in some way; and, to them, this spells FREEDOM. If what you expose to this child is not of benefit to their positive development, then the child will develop with that which is provided. It's a situation of 'garbage-in, garbage-out'; and, everyone in the little one's world is a contributor. That means every TV commercial, every video game, every movie, every cartoon, every laugh, every argument, every violent or loud outburst, every kiss, every hug, every touch of loneliness--- all are taken to heart by the child, being formed into that which will make them the individual seen by the world tomorrow. When an adult follows a system of discipline which is consistent and fair, employing both a pat on the back as well as a proverbial boot on the butt when called for, and does not demean the child in the process, the child learns what is expected of them. This provides them with a basis with which to govern their actions without reducing their self-image to subhuman realms. Where yelling and screaming are employed, they constitute abuse. Make no mistake: There is justification in raising one's voice for the purpose of being heard over ambient background noise; but--- there is absolutely NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER FOR ANY ADULT TO LOOK DOWN INTO THE EYES OF A TODDLER AND SCREAM IN FURY... Sadly, this happens far too often. If the adult was small, standing in little shoes, in small wet pants and diaper, without anyone to protect them, not understanding why they were receiving this treatment from someone they loved with all their heart, the situation would be clear to them. If that adult took the time to play, to crawl, to talk to the child, and to explore the world with the child, then the ability to reason out the problems and solutions would be less difficult; and, every kid needs someone to treat them like they're fun to be with. It's when the fun disappears, and nobody's there to help pass the time or carry them through the rough spots that self-devised coping mechanisms will come into play. If the behavior is rewarded with results that are perceived by the child as beneficial, and the routine is repeated enough to form into a behavior pattern without alternatives being provided, or accountability imposed, there's a problem; and, the problem didn't begin with the child in most cases--- it began with the method employed. If such is the case, the behavior needs to be interrupted--- and changed; and, the most effective person to do this is someone loved, respected, admired, and who can be trusted to understand and be fair, without being demeaning or abusive: YOU... Barring any physiological aberrations, this is greatly effective. If employed on a hit-or-miss basis rather than on a consistent basis, this can be highly destructive. An adult needs to be responsible in this regard; they hold a child's future in their hands--- and it's fragile

2008-01-02 02:56:25
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Q: How does one control a 3-year-old extremely intelligent boy who occassionly hits people for no apparent reason?
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