My 3.5-year-old son has been pinching every now and then. We have another 2-year-old daughter. Recently, the problem has been getting worse, he has started pinching/scratching his teacher in the pre-school. He also gets angry when he doesn't get what he wants and starts pushing his classmates and sister. He also started pinching his parents. We have been communicating with him and he also communicates back. So, it's an issue really with impulse control.

Does any one have suggestions on how to calm him down and channel his anger?

  • this has been 2 1/2 years ago. I wonder: did he stop ??? Feb 27, 2019 at 15:32
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    @AlbrechtHügli, Thanks for checking. Things are much better now. He doesn't pinch :-) We heavily rely on positive re-enforcement. We held him accountable for his actions. Any time he does something unacceptable in social setting, we take his privileges away for short period. Anytime, he does good, we reward him. Most importantly, teacher and parents are in constant communications. We get daily update about his day. We have special rewards at end of week for good behavior. That has worked very well. I think, with age he is maturing and I hope over time he will just fall in normal distribution.
    – PAS
    May 2, 2019 at 19:11

1 Answer 1


Empathy doesn't come naturally to small kids - it's something that needs to be taught.

First you need to help him understand that it hurts when he pinches people. Just sit down with him and explain that if he pinches his sister then she will be sad because it hurts. Everyone time he does it, be calm, sit down with him, and explain the other person is now "sad".

Then help him to identify his feelings. When he has a temper tantrum, explain to him that "it's allowed to be angry, but it's not allowed to pinch people" (check he understands, repeat it often).

Continually separate the two things - next time he is angry, calmly sit down with him and say "are you angry?" (and perhaps ask him to identify why he is angry).

Then ask "is it allowed to be angry?" (answer is "yes") followed by "but is it allowed to pinch?" (answer is "no").

We had great success in doing this - separating the feelings from the physical reaction (whatever it may be... pushing, pinching, biting, whatever).

  • I can only mark it as correct answer. I cannot up vote due to my limited reputation.
    – PAS
    Aug 19, 2016 at 16:07

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