Q: My four-year-old son hits and I am not sure why. We’ve tried talking to him about it and using time outs, as well as removing something he enjoys, but nothing seems to work. What can we do?
A: Preschoolers who hit are generally expressing frustration. Pay attention to the situations leading up to his aggressive outbursts to help him deal with his problem. He needs to know hitting is not OK, so taking him to another room until he calms down is a good idea. You can tell him he can’t be with people when he hurts them. However, if you take away something he enjoys when he’s already angry, he will just get angrier. If you spank or swat him, he’ll learn that aggression is acceptable and until you stop, he will continue hitting others. If he hits you, clearly tell him he is not allowed to hurt you and hold him in a way that stops him. Your strong message will teach him that hitting is not acceptable.
Help him work off some of his energy by ensuring he gets time to run and jump and climb outside, every day.