Aggressive 4-Year-Old Boy

Question

My 4 yr old is aggressive, the gentle parenting we have been sold isn't working for this. I have just read your work and as of yestersday have been confining my son to his room if he hits/is aggressive to anyone in our family, or at preschool, for the rest of the day until dinner time. He goes to bed at 7pm and we have dinner at 5pm. Should I make him go back to his room between dinner and bedtime? We have taken everything out of his room except essentials, should we let him have a toy or two?

At Preschool they don't punish my son for hitting. In fact, if he only hits "a few times" they praise him for a great day because he was calm for most of it. I believe this is giving my son a dangerous message. Any thoughts on how to address that with the preschool teachers? My son and his younger brother (2yrs) love rough play but my son ends up taking it to far too often. Should I ban it until I have sorted the aggression? I am finding it hard to decide what's appropriate rough play.

Answer

In response to your son's hitting, you are doing precisely what I would recommend. Bully for you! Yes, you should make him go to his room between dinner and bedtime. In fact, I would rec that you put him to bed immediately after dinner. A toy or two isn't going to interfere with the effectiveness of this. As for Preschool, you need to understand that the agency through which they certify is the "culprit" here. They probably prohibit punitive discipline as a standard for re-approval, so don't expect cooperation from them. Praising him for only hitting a few times is absurd and counterproductive, but it is what it is. Yes, ban aggressive play in your home. Roughhousing is okay, but any hitting is verboten. Let us know if you have more questions. Oh, and yes, "gentle parenting" is a farce and a fraud, as you have discovered.

John Rosemond

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