In order to prevent Max from being the first Albertyn to be expelled from (play) school, I need some parenting / professional advice please. My dear beloved child, the one who was such a sweet little baby, has turned into a bloody naughty little boy. Who hits other children. And it is stressing his mother out completely.
What do you do with a child who hits?
Max has never been the most well-behaved child in his play school (not by any stretch of the imagination) but since coming back to school after two weeks off after his tonsillectomy, things have gone a little pear shaped. Every day last week he was on the naughty chair at home time because he had hit another child. He doesn't do it maliciously and he isn't targeting one child in particular, he is hitting for attention, as some kind of joke. Except that it isn't very funny at all.
He isn't cross when he hits (although he will hit out of frustration sometimes, but somehow that seems more more 'normal'), he is normal (playing / happy) when he hits. As I said, it is as if he thinks it is funny. Or at least, our reaction (gasp of horror) and the other child's reaction (wail) is funny. He does it to Adam and Kate. He will suddenly hit them and then when they shout and chase after him, he thinks its a big game and he runs away laughing.
The worst was when Max hit a little girl at school for the third time this week. A sweet, quiet, gentle girl whose parents were obviously very upset about it. So upset that they wanted to call me to talk about it. I felt TERRIBLE. I sent them an email apologizing and they sent a super gracious response which made me feel both better (thank God they were ok) and worse (what nice people, I feel terrible that my son hurt their daughter!).
The teacher and I have spoken about it and we have come up with a plan to address it at school. Max's teacher is a super sweet, super loving woman who uses a soft and gentle approach with her charges, but I've since persuaded her that soft and gentle aren't going to cut it with Max. She needs to be very firm with him. He needs to know that hitting the other children is totally unacceptable. She is going to keep an eye on him and also keep him away from the little girls (same age as him) on the mat etc. Which is fine, but between the three teachers they have 20 other children to keep an eye on and I really don't want Max to hit at all, not just when someone is keeping an eye on him.
I know he is hitting to get a reaction, but how do you not react when he hits? It is so hard for me not to go swooping in and reprimand him strongly. We obviously can't ignore it, so my suggestion is that his 'punishment' for hitting must be time out. And not just time out to play on the mat with some toys, but time out where he is deliberately excluded from the groups activities. A boring time out that might even make him sad.
I understand that hitting and biting are not uncommon behaviour for three year old boys, especially three year old boys who can't talk that well yet. But I can't just let it go. I feel absolutely terrible that he has / is hitting other children. Last week another three year old bit Max on the arm and the mother was distraught. All I felt was relief - thank god it was my child who was bitten and not doing the biting or hitting for once. It is harder being the mom of the hitter than it is being the mom of the child who got it.
I know I am obviously biased as he is my child, but I don't get the sense that Max is being deliberately malicious or mean or is trying to hurt other children. I think he is trying to get a reaction, but whatever the reason, something still needs to be done.
Any suggestions / advice / experience?
PS Max really is far more um, spirited / busy / physical (BLOODY NAUGHTY!!) than Adam and Kate were at his age. I think this is partly due to the fact that the twins are very rough with him, partly because I am a bit of a pushover when it comes to my 'baby', partly because he is a busy three year old boy and partly because he just is who he is. He is a busy, boisterous little boy. Whatever the reason, it is bloody exhausting!
PPS I adore that child more than I probably should. He is my baby and we are totally in love with each other. Gorgeous child. Naughty child.