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What is a parent to do when their kid hits his parents, then their cousins, then their schoolmates, then their teacher, then their aunt and anyone else that walks the face of the earth?


Items from the podcast

Question #1:

[Audio] My 3 year old boy is hitting a lot. He hits his teacher, his friends, his family, anyone. It has become enough of a problem that my immediate family is staying away. They are telling me I need to deal with my son’s hitting.  Do I? Is this normal behavior for a 3 year old?


  • This is not normal behavior for a 3 year old.
  • He is hitting, because he is getting the attention he desires. So he keeps hitting, as long as he keeps getting attention.
  • It makes no sense to spank a hitter, it reinforces the concept that the bigger person gets to hit others.
  • Put the kid in the room and hold the door closed, until he calms down. Once he is calm, I’d be cold told him and distance toward him. I’d tell him that I was displeased with his behavior. When he asks for something, I wouldn’t give it to him.
  • When he tries to hit you, give him a bear hug , so he can’t. If he goes to kicking, hold in a way that doesn’t harm you or him. Take him to his room and say, “I am displeased with your behavior.”
  • By age 3, 60% of your personality is set. So, this needs to be addressed now.
  • If you are the parent that feels the need to comfort you kid after telling him no, wait to cuddle him until he shows remorse. Once he shows remorse, comfort and give him loving attention.
  • If you simply give your child cuddles and attention after they say, “Sorry”, then they will look to use the word sorry to get a “get out of jail free” card without meaning it or changing their behavior.

Steps to take after your child hits someone:

  1. Pick them up and take them to their room.
  2. Tell them you are displeased with them hitting others.
  3. Hold the door closed until they calm down.
  4. Once they calm down, open the door and walk away. Say nothing.
  5. Don’t engage or do for your child, until they show true remorse for their actions. You are looking for a tender heart that is genuinely sorry, not just the words.
  6. Once they are truly sorry, then you want to give them positive attention.
  7. If you give in, when they simply say, “Sorry”, then you aren’t really helping them develop the skills to be remorseful or change their behavior.

Question #2:

I have a 6yr old son who has never been watched outside of family.  He is our only child (at this time) & has always been a very polite, intelligent joy for all of us.  He started (public school) Kindergarten this past fall, and struggled with his behavior there.   I would receive letters & calls home about how he is shouting out, being disruptive, and refuses to stay on task.  This happened weekly & now daily (even from the principle).  My husband & I both work full time & come home to our child who doesn’t seem to have any concerns for what he did in school.  He does not behave this way anywhere else.  We’ve even enrolled him in some of the free programs for children his age & his behavior is good there.  We are very stressed from it & getting pushed from some family (who have put their kids on ritalin) to turn to drugs.   Is there something we can do to help his school behavior improve & help him succeed without the influence of chemicals?

Thank you!



  • There should be consistency in behavior between all classes and other programs.
  • This is possibly a maturity issue, showing that he is too young.
  • Where there are 2 parents working, it is easy to say, “Let’s just put this kid into school.” Beware of starting that too young, even though your energy level is low.
  • If he is acting out, there might be a learning disability. Get him evaluated by a professional.
  • If you are getting a daily call from the school, it shows that the school likely has issues as well and they need to do more to discipline.


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Podcast by Dr. Kevin Leman, Doug & Andrea Terpening; Post by Doug Terpening