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  • 4yo DS hitting me

    I need some advice from the more experienced hubbers.
    4yo DS is an only child (has step siblings at his Dad’s) and he’s always been a cuddly, sensitive, happy little boy.
    He seemed to cope with our separation reasonably well 18 months ago and the introduction of a step family.
    In the last few months when I say no to him he hits me. It’s calculated. I watch him raise his hand, clench a fist, march over to me and hit me - in the arm, stomach, shoulder.
    It doesn’t hurt but it’s not ok.
    I’ve been doing the following:
    - removed myself but he just chases me like a game until he hits me
    - fake being upset. He immediately says “sorry Mummy, I’m sorry Mummy” but it doesn’t stop it happening again
    - tried talking to him after he apologises to explain that hitting isn’t nice. That I don’t hit him and it hurts my feelings.
    He has also started screaming “I hate you” and “I’ll hate you forever” when I say no to things.
    To respond to that I’ve tried:
    - ignoring
    - telling him it hurts my feelings
    - telling him that when he stops being mean I will talk to him again
    - telling him that no matter what he says or what he does I will always love him
    Again he apologies and asks for cuddles and cries but it doesn’t stop it from happening.

    It’s not all the time or every day but it’s happening enough to make me worried about whether this is typical 4yo behaviour.

    Any advice is appreciated.

  • #2
    I have gone through similar with ds.
    We read a few books on anger and dealing with emotions. Which have helped the temper a bit. The book is read after everytime he hits or throws a tantrum.

    His toy he is playing with at the time gets put in the cupboard until the next day.

    I recently showed him a bruise he left on my leg from hitting/kicking me which seemed to make him stop and it sunk in a bit and i asked him how he thought it made me feel.

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    • #3
      Thanks heaps [MENTION=76579]Purple Poppy[/MENTION]
      Can you recommend any of the books you’ve read with your DS?
      Tonight I picked him up and put him in his room for 2 minutes time out - something I’ve never done before. He screamed and came back out. I put him back and held the door and when the time was up I opened the door and told him he could come out if he wanted to. He came out still angry but calmed down and had a cuddle and apologised. I know he’s tired and perhaps emotional when he comes home after his dads and I know I need to remember that but I’m worried if I don’t get the hitting sorted soon it may escalate or teach him that he doesn’t have to respect me.

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      • #4
        DD went through a hitting and biting phase. I can't remember how old she was, maybe 2ish and it lasted about a year or so. She didn't even need to be in trouble to make it happen. Sometimes it felt like she enjoyed hurting me. I would always exaggerate and do a big "ow, that hurt mummy" which it did. Especially the biting. I had bruises all over my thighs. Distraction never worked with her, and neither did saying no. Sometimes the "ow" worked, and sometimes she'd laugh. I ended up just putting her in her room for timeout every single time. She'd cry and scream, and I'd tell her when she calmed down, she could come out. Afterwards we would talk about how it's not nice to bite and hit, how it hurt me (or DS as she'd hit him too) and how people wouldn't want to play with her if she hit them. Took a while for it to sink in, and she would have food and bad days, but eventually she had more good than bad and stopped.

        I also used to talk to her about feelings, and if she had yucky feelings in her tummy and was cross or frustrated, she could go to her room until she felt better, but it was not nice to bite. I've heard of others having a pillow or whatever that the kids can hit instead. I think whatever you do, the key is consistency.

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        • #5
          We had a hitting the phase at around 2.5. We got the book ‘Hands are not for Hitting’ and read that everyday for a while. We also used timeouts.

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          • #6
            This sounds different to the 'hitting/biting' phase that lots of kids go through as part of the terrible 2s. At 4, like you said, this is calculated and though out behaviour, plus it includes very hurtful words as well.

            Next time it happens, say something like "We don't hit/yell/say I hate you in this house. Who does hitting/yelling/etc that you know?"

            DS (now 5yo) is easily influenced into less desirable behaviour, so as soon as his behaviour would change like this, I'd have this conversation. Often he'd then tell me about what some of the kids at daycare/kindy were doing, or his older cousins when we visited, etc. One play date when he was 4, he was only there 2 hours and he came home barking orders at me with the worst attitude like I was his personal slave. I spoke to him like above and he said "*mates name* says that to his mum and his mum doesn't say no". So from there we could talk about what WE do and why etc.

            It doesn't work for his ongoing behaviour issues, but finding the source of new/changed behaviour and talking about it has worked really well for stopping it before it becomes an ongoing problem.

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            • #7
              If it is anything like my 4yo 'phase' it definetly isnt thebiting hitting thing that they go through at 2. This is a heap of emotions piled onto them that comes out as full rage that they struggle with to control.

              We would put ds in his room until it stopped as you can not calmly talk to a wild octopus with flailing arms about keeping everything contained and calm.

              It took a few months of reading (not sure the name but one he liked was the bunny on the cover about anger) i will find some for you.
              Nothing wrong with putting them in their room to help them calm down. As soon as he does calm down i would be there to give him a hug and grab a book and then we would talk.

              We also tried the flower technique of him cupping his hands together to take a big breath to smell the flower then breathing out to blow the petals away. We also did it as hot chocolate.

              I also removed any soft drink and lollies from his diet which i noticed made a big difference also.

              He is now able to tell me when he is feeling mad and no longer hurts his sister

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              • #8
                I went through the same thing with both my eldest girls when they were small. It came from getting everything they wanted when they were with "Santa dad" which was like a little holiday with no rules, no bedtime and treats all the time, and then coming back to real life, having to actually deal with proper parenting once they were home. It is very confusing for a child because at 4 they are very in the moment. Eventually they work it out but not at 4. In the mean time, I agree with what all the previous posters have been saying.
                "This too, shall pass."

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                • #9
                  Thanks all this is great advice.
                  He doesn’t seem to lose control in the flailing kind of way. He plans to hit me and does once and then that’s it. Or if I don’t react he comes back for a second go. He seems to hold back though so the hits aren’t full strength and I don’t have bruises or anything. He says, “mama if you don’t do x I’m going to hit you”.
                  Maybe I need to do more in the split second between him saying that and it happening?
                  His Dad’s is probably far more strict than my house. With me he’s like what [MENTION=48748]Stretched[/MENTION] described, bossing me around like a slave - get me a drink, I want x, do this. And then he gets upset when I say no.
                  Most of the time his manners are great so I need to think more about what’s going on for him when he’s like this.
                  In the past I’ve given in a lot. So maybe that’s it too. He’s confused. He wants something. He’s angry he can’t have it.
                  I think the books are a good idea. And the time out. As soon as I tell him off, or put him in time out yesterday he immediately cries and wants a cuddle. Yesterday I made him stay in time out and then cuddled him afterwards when he came out and tried to talk to him about what happened.

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                  • #10
                    At that age I think time-out is more effective than just telling them how you feel. It’s incredibly boring for a 4 year old to sit somewhere for a length of time.
                    My DS went through a horrid stage at age 4. Just really naughty and irritating (knew exactly how to press my buttons). He’s an angel now at nearly 12 but my god, I did not enjoy 4 years old!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hollywood View Post
                      At that age I think time-out is more effective than just telling them how you feel. It’s incredibly boring for a 4 year old to sit somewhere for a length of time.
                      My DS went through a horrid stage at age 4. Just really naughty and irritating (knew exactly how to press my buttons). He’s an angel now at nearly 12 but my god, I did not enjoy 4 years old!
                      Nice to know that they do become nice eventually! Dd was perfect by the time she was 4 but ds just keeps getting more wild!!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mod-LIKE A BOSS View Post
                        Thanks all this is great advice.
                        He doesn’t seem to lose control in the flailing kind of way. He plans to hit me and does once and then that’s it. Or if I don’t react he comes back for a second go. He seems to hold back though so the hits aren’t full strength and I don’t have bruises or anything. He says, “mama if you don’t do x I’m going to hit you”.
                        Maybe I need to do more in the split second between him saying that and it happening?
                        His Dad’s is probably far more strict than my house. With me he’s like what [MENTION=48748]Stretched[/MENTION] described, bossing me around like a slave - get me a drink, I want x, do this. And then he gets upset when I say no.
                        Most of the time his manners are great so I need to think more about what’s going on for him when he’s like this.
                        In the past I’ve given in a lot. So maybe that’s it too. He’s confused. He wants something. He’s angry he can’t have it.
                        I think the books are a good idea. And the time out. As soon as I tell him off, or put him in time out yesterday he immediately cries and wants a cuddle. Yesterday I made him stay in time out and then cuddled him afterwards when he came out and tried to talk to him about what happened.
                        Mine are older so may not work, but when they are fighting now (usually instigated by DD who will often hit DS if he won't do what she wants) I ask if they are being kind, and usually get a no, and we can then talk about why. Having said that, she's spent a bit of time in her room in time out the last 2 weeks. (I think they are just sick of each other after 6 weeks of hols. She's not normally this bad).

                        Maybe when he says I'm going to hit you, say "that's not very nice. It hurts mummy when you talk like that" and hope it makes him pause and think. You can then ask him why he's feeling that way.

                        With the demanding, I'd simply say you forgot your manners, or not until you use your manners. Mine have done this at various stages and I have said variations of that. If they the. Use manners, they get their drink or whatever (unless it's a great I had no intention of giving). If they don't, they don't.

                        Biggest advice is stop giving in. I know it's natural after the 18 months you've had and wanting to try to keep him happy through the upheaval, but giving in to them over everything creates a monster. I did it with DD when she was a horrible witch as the tantrums were massive and I didn't have time to deal with them at school pick up and drop off times, (the octopus analogy above is a good one. Trying to put one in a car to get DS from school was a freaking nightmare) and she got to know it and it just made things worse in the long run.

                        My last suggestion is to talk to him when he's happy and ask why he does it. Ask him if that's how the other kids treat ExDHead's GF. I'd suggest you talk to the Ex about consistent parenting and having the same level of discipline in each house (eg meeting in the middle if he's overly strict) but we all know that wouldn't work.

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                        • #13
                          At 4 (and occasionally still at 7)
                          I explain that it's perfectly ok to feel angry, or upset, but they're not allowed to hurt others or be rude... if they're going to do xyz, they need to go to their room until they're ready to behave nicely...
                          it took a bit of work...but it really helped ds1 (ds2 isn't quite 4 but he is 500x more head strong than ds1[emoji85] )
                          I used to tell ds1 if he was angry, he could stamp his feet, make fists and let them go, or yell into his pillow... eventually he could verbalize "that's making me angry!" And now pre-empts with "that will make me angry if it doesn't stop" so I feel we've come a long way.

                          As for the demanding, if I'm not busy and they ask me nicely, I'll usually do most things. If they demand I do something, I just say "excuse me?" Politely, and they usually repeat it, at which point they usually pick up on the manners and correct themselves.
                          If it doesn't work, I'll rephrase what they ask for them...
                          e.g.
                          Mum get my drink.....Excuse me?.......Mum can you get me a drink please?
                          Or...
                          Mum get my drink.... excuse me?..... Get my drink...sorry darling, do you mean to say "Mum can you please get me a drink?"....yeah.....ok??....oh! Mum can you please get me a drink?....sure.
                          They do know I refuse to do things if they don't ask nicely. Even ds2

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