When Children Hit

Sign Up for Our Newsletter


Hello. I have two of your books and neither quite addresses our issue. On the topic of hitting you say: "When your preschooler hits you, decide what you will do instead of trying to control your child. Let her know that every time she hits you, you will leave the room until she is ready to treat you respectfully. After you have told her this once, follow through without any words. Leave immediately". The thing is, if I try to do this, my son chases me (and his dad) out of the room, hitting all the while. I cannot leave without him hot on my heels. If I remove him (pick him up), he is kicking and screaming and will only stay somewhere if I lock him in. How do I approach this? Thank you for your time. Caroline


Hi Caroline, I experienced the same challenge with one of my children and used what Dreikurs called "the bathroom technique." I would go to the bathroom and lock the door. (If you decide to do this, be sure to have a good book to read.) The first time I did this I thought Dreikurs was nuts because my kids (two of them) followed me and were pounding on the door. One even slipped a note under the door. However, I stuck it out without saying a word, and pretty soon they went away. The next time they treated me disrespectfully (honestly can't remember what they did—it was so long ago—which shows how unimportant it was), I went to the bathroom again. This time the kids didn't follow me and they stopped their misbehavior.

There are two tricks to making this work:

  1. During a calm time, let them know in advance what you are going to do. (Maybe during a family meeting.)
  2. When you follow through don't say a word. No lectures. No threats. Just let them have their feelings.

It doesn't take them long to learn that if you say it you mean it, and if you mean it, you will follow through. This is a great model for them about how to treat themselves respectfully instead of trying to change someone else.

My best to you,

Online Learning

Positive Discipline offers online learning options for parents, teachers, and parent educators. Learn in the comfort of your own home and at your own pace. You have unlimited access to our online streaming programs, so you can watch and re-watch the videos as often as you like.