How to Deal With a Child Who Won't Keep His Hands to Himself

Children are high-energy individuals who want to have fun and often like to have things their way. As a result, you might notice or have heard from your child's teachers that your child will not keep his hands to himself. This can include hitting, pinching, scratching and other unnecessary touching while playing, in class or standing in line with other children. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to help your child control his impulses and keep his hands to himself.

Two kids fight over the remote control on the couch. (Image: Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images)

Step 1

Take note of when your child tends to not be able to keep his hands to himself. When your child is fussy, he might be more likely to engage in unnecessary touching, such as hitting or scratching. By watching your child's behavior, you might be able to help predict when your child will have trouble keeping his hands to himself. For example, if he is tired or hungry. Allow your child to nap or have a meal prior to engaging in activities with other children and adults. When your child is more content, he might be better able to control his touching impulses.

Step 2

Teach your child to verbally express himself instead of touching. Many children will hit, punch, scratch or pinch when they want something. Teach your child to ask for something. For example, asking another child if she can play with her toy or asking a neighbor if she can pet a dog instead of just doing it.

Step 3

Have a zero tolerance policy. If your child is excessively touching, hitting or pinching others, enforce discipline so that your child associates this type of action with consequences. If he's fighting over a toy, remove the toy for a 24-hour period. Alternatively, place your child in timeout or revoke TV or computer time for older children.

Step 4

Encourage more positive ways for your child to manage impulses, especially negative impulses. Encourage your child to step back and take a few deep breathes if she has the urge to touch. For severe problems, you can opt for a punching bag to relieve anger or visit with a therapist.

Step 5

Praise your child when he chooses to use his words and keeps his hands to himself to help reinforce the positive behavior.

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