Our 3-Year-Old Hits

Our 3-year-old is hitting everyone. What is the responsibility of the childcare center to correct this?

My wife and I made the decision long before we had children to raise our own kids - that is, that one of us would stay home. My wife was very happy to stay home with our daughter. I was not making a lot of money at the time. It was not easy making the dollars stretch, but we made it work because we knew it was best for our child.

Since then, many people have told us we were lucky to have one parent able to stay home (as if our family had some unfair advantage over the rest of the world). Virtually every family has the potential for one parent to stay home and raise the children. Most families opt not to because they see more benefits to having a dual income than to raising their own children.

Joe and Amy Reddy in St. Louis, MO

It's not the childcare center's responsibility to teach your child how to behave with other children. It's your own responsibility as parents. The childcare center is there to provide you a service, not to raise your children for you.

Pam Chamberlain in Keller, Texas

Communicate with and enlist the help and support of your child care providers. Begin by finding out what seems to cause your child to hit, and what the provider's response is. Talk to your child. Your child will benefit from you talking to him calmly about why he shouldn't hit, and asking him why he does. Offer a reward for consecutive days without hitting, such as the opportunity to do a special activity with you. Your child needs to know he has your love and support as he learns appropriate ways to control his emotions and interact with others.

K.G. in Salem, IL

Your child's behavior is your responsibility. He is trying to tell you something and this is the only way he knows how. Quit your job, take him out of day care and stay home with him. I promise you it will make a difference.

M.A.M. in Arlington, TX

From Jodie: Let me answer your question directly. Communication and doing your part at home is the key here. Pop into the center unexpected and watch him unnoticed. This will give you firsthand information. Talk to his teacher about the incidents, and find out the exact rules on inappropriate behavior at the school. Ask your child to show you how he is hitting. Find out "why" by role-playing. If he hits only Billy, you become Billy and act out a scene. If this doesn't work, switch roles and become your son, and he can pretend to be Billy. As a rule of thumb, the latter will usually work better.

Take a look around at your son's home environment. What is he watching on TV? Are older siblings wrestling and play fighting with him? Monitor his computer and video games. At this age, any type of hitting action will be imitated.

Talk to him and tell him how he can play with others without hitting. Tell him if he hits other children, they will not play with him and he will be sad. Make sure you watch his diet as well. Do not allow your son to have caffeine drinks. If he is already used to them, begin now to dilute them with water and eventually switch to caffeine free. Keep sugar and chocolate intake low.