1. Catch him/her being calm/following the rules and be their cheerleader. I like to say things like "John, you're sitting quietly (or whatever else it is he/she is doing the right way). Congratulations! I'll bet you feel proud about that." I realize that this last part may be a bit beyond her/his comprehension. I still say it because I'm setting the pathways in the brain for the time she/he does comprehend it and it won't be the first time they heard it. I’m also identifying acceptable behavior. Children know full well about cause and effect and they don’t always know what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t. When I identify those behaviors that are o.k., I am teaching them just as much about behavior as I would if I were teaching them something academic.
2. To help with hitting I find it best when I can catch her/his hand before he/she hits. While holding their hand, I will say firmly (not shouting) "No hitting! You may not hit! You need to be nice." As I'm saying this last sentence I would have her/his hand(s) in mine and I'd demonstrate a nice touch. Then, the instant I see her/him touching something nicely, I become a cheerleader. (“You’re touching the doll nicely! Congratulations I’ll bet you feel proud about this!”) The child may touch something nicely within the first 30 seconds after I do it and we need to be ready for that cheerleading moment. He/she will test you to see if you’re noticing their correct behavior. If you don’t recognize it, they will revert back to hitting because they know this is going to get your attention. Now, from a learning standpoint, I take their hand and show them how to touch nicely because children are learning everything for the first time; whether it's good or bad behavior. They don't know what "nice touch" means until I say the word and do it with the child. As for the brain: When the child is hearing words and doing/feeling/touching at the same time, learning is sure to occur. The other piece I'm doing is identifying the behavior and whether it's o.k. or not. Again, children don't know this at the very beginning.
3. Biting is an interesting thing. To me it's usually a sign of anger and please don’t take this personally. Children at this age get mad at the drop of a hat; whether it’s because they aren’t getting what they want or not being able to communicate. I would take anecdotal records of what happens immediately prior to the biting and that will give you some clues as to the source of their anger. In the meantime, here's what I do to stop biting: I put my hand on the child’s forehead. With one swift and light motion, I take my hand over their face and down to the chin. I make sure to touch their lips as I’m going from forehead to chin. At the same time I’m brushing their face with my hand, I will say firmly (not yelling), "No biting. You may not bite." My reasons for doing this are all about the brain. When the child is hearing the words and feeling my hand brushing their face (and especially touching their lips), learning is more apt to occur than not.
I hope this helps. At the end of a day go into their bedroom and watch them sleep. They are so angelic at that moment and all the frustrations and anger simply melt away. Now you’re ready for whatever tomorrow is going to bring and you’re starting with a clean slate.