Rough Housing

I get beat up by my 3 year old.

My son little C is going to be 4 next week. I don’t know why but he is so rough. I’m not sure if its learned or if its just a natural instinct, but no matter what the root is, he seems to always hurt me or his brother. Its difficult for his brother because there is an 8 year age gap, so obviously big E isn’t going to fight back since he knows better than to pummel a 3 year old. The worst part is someone always ends in tears, and its usually me or big E. Big E and little C rough house all the time and big E almost always starts it to play with him, but it always ends badly.

So the question is, do I allow the rough housing? Timeouts don’t work, it stops it for the moment but it doesn’t fix the overall problem. I refuse to hit back and will occasionally allow big E to hit him back. Am I over thinking this? Should I just chalk it up to “boys will be boys”.

What do you think?