During my daily interactions with our families many of them ask questions about their child's behavior, health or general development. Today I was emailed by a parent who brought up a common concern that parent's have about their children.
Mother: Mom question-what do you do/ suggest when (Child) purposely hurts or throws things at us and laughs? She does this to (her little brother) as well. We talk to her about personal space and talk her about telling us what is happening and how we will help. Sometimes she just throws stuff when we ask her to stop doing something.
Lauren's Answer: This is perfectly normal for 3-4 year old children! Don't worry too much. Consistency is the key, talk to her ahead of time about consequences of what will happen, such as taking some time to herself, leaving the area, etc. Make sure you follow through every time with the consequences. To reinforce the good behavior make sure you give her intermittent, random rewards for good behavior and point out what she is doing that is positive! You can also try the book 1, 2, 3 Magic (link below). Make sure she has plenty of opportunities to do positive things and talk to her about being nice.
We can give you some books to read at home about having nice hands if that would be helpful.
Mother: Ok. It has just started in the past week or so, and we have been removing her from the situation. We have been talking to her afterwards and sometimes later in the evening. She seems to know it is wrong and not nice, so hopefully with consistency it will get better.
Lauren: Great plan. It takes time and is usually a phase. If you have greater concerns about her feeling empathy, let me know, we can provide some resources. Also, remember that kids this age test boundaries and it is probably a phase. She is a good kid, with wonderful parents, so you have nothing to worry about!!!
1,2,3, Magic- a great and easy system to use at home: