There can be several reasons why a three year-old child hits other children in preschool. But without knowing more about the child and his family background it is difficult to pinpoint the reasons. The child may not be emotionally ready to be in a preschool setting, especially if he is a boy and is one of the younger three year-olds in his class. Young children do not always have the verbal skills to express themselves and when they feel afraid, unsure of themselves, frustrated or angry they may act out with aggression.
Talk to the teacher about your concerns but don't talk about it in front of your own child. You can talk to your child about using his/her words and not hitting when upset. If your child comes home and tells you that this child is hitting, encourage him/her to tell the teacher when it happens rather than to hit back. There are excellent books available to help teach these skills, two of which come to mind are: "Hands Are Not for Hitting", by Martine Agassi and "The ABC's of Anger" by Ray Ali. Both books are available in bookstores and libraries or at: www.boystownpress.org
Please call us on our toll-free Hotline or e-mail us if you would like to talk more about his or any other parenting issue. We also have a website for parents which is full of ideas and advice for raising children from infancy through the teen years. Either way our counselors are available to listen and help 24 hours, every day.
Take care and best wishes to you and your family!
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There are a lot of reasons why any behavior can happen, and finding that reason is the key. Once you find that reason, teach the child another way to get what s/he's trying to get (or avoid). For example, if the child is hitting others because s/he wants to initiate a social interaction with the other child (e.g., start a conversation), then teach the child another way to start a conversation. If the child is trying to get a toy, teach the child another way to get the toy, or how to deal with not getting the toy.
You can also add some rewards to the new behavior you want the child to engage in, and add consequences (punishment) for the behaviors you want the child to stop. Just make sure you are actually teaching an alternative positive behavior.
These ideas are really general, but if you have more specific information about what's going, it may be possible to come up with some more specific ideas on what to do.
Talk with the parents and teacher together. Hopefully have a play day with the other child (with the parents) so they can observe for themselves their child's behavior. However I do feel it is important to have the parents observe their child's behavior at the school as well. Sometimes a child will NOT bully another child unless their are other children around to see they are in charge. If this does not resolve I would remove my child and put them in a new school. This is an age where they can not socially get themselves out of a bad situation. Later if your child seems to be the one to be picked on I would seek help for them to stand up for themselves. Good Luck.