To be at a loss with my hitting 4 year old(21 Posts)
Am really worried about this so please be tough but kind.
My 4 year old started school this year.
Had first interview with teacher last week and apparently he is hitting other children frequently.
The teacher said this is happening regularly throughout the day.
I don’t know what to do. I’m really embarrassed that my child is causing so much upset.
He has lots of friends and cousins outside school and he’s not a hitter. He doesn’t hit his little sister and she can really get on his nerves.
We make sure he has lots of social interaction with other children outside of school and he is not a hitter then, if anything he’s quite shy and reserved.
We’ve spoken at length to him about how hitting hurts and we’ve even gone back to the toddler books of ‘hands are not for hitting.’
We’ve tried to be firm but understanding with him over it as didn’t want to make it a major issue. Now I feel it is becoming a big issue.
I asked the teacher today if ther had been any improvement, she said a little but he had to go into time out today for hitting.
What Can I do?
He does find the school work very hard and the teacher has said that he’s quite behind. This does not excuse his hitting. I’m just frantically trying to think of a reason.
Please help me.
AIBU to be so worried?
It seems very odd that he only does this at school. Have you talked to him about how he feels when he's there? There must be something that causes him to act this way.
Have School said what hey think the reason is?
Thanks for the reply.
When we ask him if he likes school he says yes.
We’ve even made an appointment with his old preschool for Monday to go back and find out if there was ever any hitting. Even incidents that they didn’t mention. They never , ever told us if there were.
They don’t know what the reason might be, said maybe immaturity.
Have you asked him why he is doing it? I know it's very difficult to get answers out of a 4 year old. It just seems so odd that he only does this at school. Is he being teased or something, I wonder? Is it at break-times or throughout the day? Does he have any friends from preschool at his new school?
He can’t give any sensible answers about why he’s doing it,
He doesn’t have any friends at school from re school but has made a few in school so far.
When was he 4? It's a big difference between October and June children, for example. The transition can be really hard especially for the younger ones.
So he just says he doesn't know? Is he hitting all the children or just some? I think you need to talk more to the teacher. Explain that this is totally out of character for him - hopefully you'll have the back up of him not having done this at preschool. Is he getting immensely frustrated at something? Again, when does he do it? If you're going to solve it you'll have to find out more about it.
Could be a stress reaction. Mine hate sitting on carpet so hit out when anyone's near. It just could be too much.
Have school tried a behaviour book. Worked well for one of mine. He got a stamp for each segment of the day he didnt hit then sticker if he got for stamps in a day and treat at end of the week. We also identified flash points like the carpet or very unstructured play
It would be very useful if the school (class teacher, senco, teaching assistant) could do an ABC observation of your son. A stands for Antecedent, B - Behaviour, C - consequence for a few days. What this will do will not just tell us that he is hitting (which we know) but what is going on before the incident (antecedent) and we can also see what the consequence is - not just from the teacher but what does your son appear to get from the hitting.
What we know is that the hitting is actually telling us 'something' what we need to do is try and figure out what it is telling us and not assume which is where the observation comes in. As it depends on what the function of the hitting is to how we will look to tackle it.
Eg if we find out that the hitting occurs mainly in times of transition from the table to the mat and its because too many children moving around make your son panic. He doesn't have the communication to say he feels panic so he hits. How you could deal with that is that the teacher staggers the moving from the tables to the mat one table at a time. Also you and they would give him some strategies so if he feels panicked he walks calmly over and holds the class teddy to feel safe.
Or if he hits mainly at break/lunch time and the function of the behaviour is to get attention because he can't express that he wants to play - then the teacher could create a buddy bench where she arranges for him to play lego for the first part of break time with one/two others. That will probably be enough for him to feel safe enough to play out in the wider playground because its been staggered a bit, rather than off you go children just know how to be social..... You could also role play 'how to approach' children eg inviting them to play ball, or come and see the school rabbit with me etc.
At the same time as trying to identify the function and trigger so you can be proactive in helping to stop it, its important to be consistent with the consequence for hitting. Repetition is your friend!
Teacher could say: 'We use kind hands school. You will now lose 10 minutes of break time'. - then the teacher informs you. When your son comes home. "I am aware you hit today. You will sit on the step for 4 minutes". (Then you must have a conversation with him. Use a script Keep it simple. You don't want to use too many words Drop down so you are down at his level. You do not want to be scary think kind and firm). You hit xx today. When you hit it hurts... What do you need to do put it right? (Leave space for him to say he needs to say sorry) . "That's a good choice". Then cuddle him to show him that the behaviour is wrong not him. The next morning when you drop him at school make sure that he says sorry to xx.
Remember your son is very young for his year group. Its very young to be in such a noisy full environment for 6 hours a day. He is having to learn social 'rules' and navigate many different social relationships all with a limited self awareness and vocabulary due to usual development. That there is some form of transitional distress being shown is completely usual (unfortunately..and adds to my view that 4 is too young for school..but that's for another day!...).
To summarise my very long post - we need to know what is going on before the hitting action. We need to analyse that to look for patterns and triggers. We need to help your son communicate appropriately and interact socially and be consistent in the way both school and home respond to the behaviour with very clear boundaries.
I also like Allthewaves idea of a book - young children love a sticker or a stamp and its always better to reward the good!
My eldest did this. In his case it was due to frustration as he didn't understand some things at school, even though he loved it there. Might be worth delving a bit deeper.
If this isn't behaviour you have seen and only occurs at school they need to figure out why.
Are kids getting in his space or pushing him? Is he overwhelmed by noise? Are other children being unkind? Is he speech delayed or frustrated?
There must be a reason. And no. I am not going to be tough on you! He sounds like he's struggling and needs support.
PS I don't mean to be patronising with the script thing regarding consequences. Its just something I have always done with my children and its something that has helped me.
Can they provide him with a quiet space to go to if it is all a bit much?
Fantastic post from thetwinkletoescollec
I actually wanted to suggest some form of martial arts. Many of them start at school age and allow a bit of a way to let out frustration but the main thing they teach is self control and discipline. Teach him to do a bit of Kata (karate) or pattern (tae kwon do) or whatever the routine is called in the discipline he chooses instead of hitting out. Even at 4, this can be useful.
I really like the ABC approach and came to say something similar, but twinkle has done it so much better than I ever could
You will not get a why from asking him, because he probably doesn't know himself. It's key that the school work with you to handle this appropriately.
My dd is getting really great support from her school for similar. She lashes out and has even bitten on a couple of times and she's never bitten anyone at home or at play groups.
They have drawn up a plan with me and focused on making sure she realises that hurting someone upsets them and makes them feel pain. Trying to get a 4yr old to see things from someone else's perspective is hard.
She doesn't give any clear answers either.
And she's a young 4. A summer baby who hasn't had much social interaction till this year.
I would think there’s a possibility that he is feeling overwhelmed by the transition to ‘big school’. Is he a summer baby? I was, and I remember finding the expectations on me very hard to meet as the youngest in the year, and I apparently pushed a table at a teacher at the age of 5. Your DS is finding the work hard so this will be tiring him out as well.
My DD2 is in year 1, and mentions 2 boys hitting and pushing her over. It is very common for young children to do that at that age. She keeps calling them ‘naughty’, but I do suggest to her that they might be struggling and not necessarily setting out to hurt her. (She herself lashed out a couple of times in reception, but that seems to have stopped thankfully.)
If your DS doesn’t hit at home then there’s a very good chance he’ll grow out of it, hopefully, once he starts feeling more comfortable. Is it possible that other children are provoking him, knowing that he’ll be the one who gets into trouble? Or does he get overwhelmed by the number of children around him and panic? You won’t be able to get an answer from him as to why it happens, but the teachers need to observe closely to see what the triggers could be.
I like the strategy of A-B-C suggested by a PP, that makes good sense. Huge sympathy, OP.
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