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Parent of Violent Toddler Needs Help


My three year-old son has been violent since he was two weeks old. He is wild, hits others, uses bad words and does not listen. I am confused about how to help him. When he acts out, I get angry and hit him. Please help me.


When young children hit others it is usually a result of two causes. Either he does not yet have the verbal development to express his feelings and so he uses his hands instead of words to express it; or, he has seen others solve their feelings of frustration with "hitting" instead of words. When your son acts out, instead of hitting him, walk away, take a deep breath and calm down. Practice journaling, calling a friend or counting to calm yourself down so that you do not model violent behavior to him.

As parents we know that modeling good behavior is our most powerful teaching tool. When we have problems, if we use our words in a calm manner to solve them, we are demonstrating or showing our children how they should behave when faced with similar situations. If this has not been done, don't worry, it is not too late to teach him. Use three simple parenting strategies to teach this to him.

  1. Tell him hitting is not okay. Instead, show and tell him what he should do.
  2. Have him practice what you have shown and told him.
  3. Reward his practice, or show your approval.

These same three steps can be used to teach your son "listening skills." Do that by showing and telling him what he should do when someone speaks to him. Practice these new skills throughout the day. Get the whole family involved so everyone is modeling the skill appropriately.

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