H.C. asks from Victorville, CA on June 09, 2008
2 1/2 Year Old Won't Stop Hitting Others
Looking back, it seems as though my 2 1/2 year old little girl was born with a poor temperament opposite of me. Not that i look for that in her; i have always been a believer of positive reinforcement.
I've tried time-outs and talking to her firmly in a way that she could understand that hitting was wrong, but it just seems as though it's either her way or the highway. she refuses to apologize until I close her in her room and she cries to be let out before she apologizes.
I'm just so frustrated with this and i'm at the end of my line i have to walk out and take a breather sometimes. please help me!!
So What Happened?™
Thank you so much for everyone's responses! I've incorporated almost everyone's advice and I'm finally seeing some improvement in Daisy. I stopped making her apologize and started apologizing for her.....and now she's starting to apologize all on her own from my example! I get down on her level and feel for her frustration..this really helps ease her frustration when she sees that I understand her.
Her time outs are much more effective although it took over and hour at first..she's starting to get the point though and we do some playtime everyday where she controls and chooses what goes in and out of her play kitchen( this really helped her to become less bossy throughout the day. I incorporate more reading time in her day and www.askdrsears.com has really helped me come to a new level of understanding. Everything is going great! It feels really good to have all of this support!!
M.B. answers from Reno on June 10, 2008
She's still trying to figure out how to express herself and her emotions. My son went through this and now my daughter has just started doing it too.
They don't know as much as we would like them to (because it would be so much easier to just be able to reason with them) so you need to help her figure out her emotions and help her learn how to deal with them in a positive way.
What are her triggers? Is it a specific child? Time of day (tired, hungry) try to figure out what is leading up to her hitting and then remember to talk to her on her level about it.
Don't make her apologize because she has no idea what that means yet. She needs to be empathetic to understand it so help her develop her empathy. When she hits, have the person she hit tell her that it hurts them (or boo-boo or whatever word she has learned to associate with pain), show her with expressions (sad face, crying).
This is a perfectly normal phase that your daughter is going through so I wouldn't be too concerned that your daughter is going to be "mean" or anything like that.
This is a great resource for you, I hope it helps.
It goes in depth about troublesome toddler behaviors.
1 mom found this helpful
A.B. answers from Reno on June 09, 2008
We have had similar problems with both of our boys (now 6 and 3 years old). Some children just have a stubborn streak and because they are so little and don't have any way to handle their anger, they hit. It is perfectly natural. The way we handled it at first was to talk to our sons about hitting. It hurts, people won't want to be your friend, etc. But sometimes we had to resort to punishments like time out. Time out works differently for everyone, but I have found that if we have a time out chair (or step or corner) that is THE place they have to go, plus a timer. Tell her she may not speak while in time out, she may not cry while in time out, she may not play while in time out, she may ONLY sit quietly and (hopefully) think about what she did that was wrong and how she might handle the situation better. After time out is over we remind our child that they were in time out for a specific reason (hitting in your case), ask them not to do it again, and then hug them and tell them they may return to their activity. Don't allow her to cry and scream and whine during her punishment. This just adds to your stress. Simply tell her that the timer will not start until she behaves herself. And never get drawn into an argument. Don't discuss or argue with her during punishment, simply ignore her until time out is over. It is best to use reason and logic and discussion when you are not in the middle of a problem. Talk to her before you go to a friend's house, or before there may be a situation. Remind her that she needs to behave herself and talk about what is expected. That way she knows the rules before the situation occurs, and she doesn't have any excuses.
K.H. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
I've found sometimes they need to know you understand then. I've had similar outbursts with my 2 year old son and I get down at his eyes and say "You're mad (Frustrated, angry...) You want to play with that toy and Suzi has it and that makes you mad." Then I offer, "What is a better way of getting your feelings out?" Offer her suggestions. Maybe squeezing your hands in a tight, tight fist, or taking a deep breath and blowing it out (Maybe in one BIG huff or very, very slowly - find what she likes best). My son now tells my daughter, "take a breath sissy" But by letting them know you understand, identifying their feeling and then giving them an alternate way of handling that feeling you're giving them tools instead of punishing their feelings. I've noticed with my daughter, (who's now 8) that when I escalate, she escalates but when I talk to her in a calm, matter of fact voice, we both come out so much quicker.
Maybe with hitting, you want to immediately remove her from the situation and you may still want to issue a timeout to get her to understand the severity but then, give her the tools to change that behavior.
Good luck- I wish I didn't loose that manual they came with!
P.C. answers from San Diego on June 10, 2008
Just a thought, are you giving your daughter milk. Do some research on it. Often if children are sensitive to milk, it can make them very aggressive. My oldest was one of these children. I did not find out until he was about six years old. Once i got him off milk, he was a whole new human being.
S.C. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
Have you ever watched Super Nanny? If you haven't, tune it, because this comes up pretty often. You could pick up some good ideas from her. Many parents utilize time-outs incorrectly and inadvertently reinforce poor behavior with their own negative attention. Put her in time-out, briefly explain why she's there, set the timer for 2 minutes, and do not engage with her until her time is up. If she gets out, don't speak to her, just take her back and put her down. Keep it up for HOURS if you need to do so. (Seriously.) Just DO NOT speak with her. Once her time out is over, tell her why you put her in time-out----1-2 sentences, ask for an apology, hugs and kisses and off she goes. Catch her being good and give her lots of praise! Make a huge effort to spend 2-30 minute play times on the floor with her a day--in the am and again in the afternoon. Keep it all light and positive and let her choose and control the play. In all likelihood, you will see a huge difference in her behaviors. Also, sign up for a parenting class. Some school districts offer them free of charge, many hospitals do (CHOC for one), and I'm sure there are many other resources. You will get a lot of help, advice and support in a parenting class, and you won't feel so isolated, either. (Especially when you hear other parent's stories---someone always has it worse!!) Good luck!
C.T. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
Great...that's all parents and teachers need are 2 years old hitting each other back and forth to see which one gives up first. Seriously...Children around this age will hit and bite because they dont know how to epxress themselves entirely. They have come to the realization that when the exert force something happens and it is usually in their favor. Children spend enough of their lifetime being told the should NOT do this and that. If a child is hitting someone else because he/she wants a toy the other is playing with simply remove the toy. I understand where you are coming from. I am sure you feel that others must think you do not have control on your child's behavior, but if parents look back when their children were this age and I have no doubt that most children were this way whether parents want to admit it or not. Try engaging her in other activities to calm her.
B.R. answers from Los Angeles on June 09, 2008
First, stop making her appologize. There are a lot of different schools of thought on this, but I personally believe (and have seen in action) that forcing a child to appologize teaches them nothing other than to lie to get out of something. Also, removing this as a requirement takes away some of the power struggle between you and her (and if you get in a power struggle with a toddler you will always loose, even if you win). Instead, tell whoever she hit "I'm so sorry she hit you"- this sets the example without forcing her to say something.
At 2 1/2 she is going to hit, and she is probably going to do it several times even if you are using the best and most effective discipline possible. If it has been a problem and you know she understands that it is not okay, stop giving warnings. Tell her that, from now on, when she hits she goes straight to time out, no warnings. When she hits, firmly but unemotionally say "hitting hurts, no hitting" and place her in time out- NOT in her room, but an actual designated timeout spot that you can supervise. I have a timeout chair, but even just a specific spot on the floor works as long as it's out of the way, like not in front of the TV or some other distraction, and if we're out of the house I just sit her down wherever she's out of the way and say "timeout." If she gets up, don't say anything, just sit her back down. The timeout restarts every time she gets up. She should sit for about a minute per age (2 min or 2 1/2 min). Then, when timeout is over (she has sat for the entire 2 minutes without any interaction from anyone), go to her, get down on her level, and say "hitting hurts, do we hit?" I hug Izzy at the end, but that's optional. Do this consistantly, and it will help.
ALSO, try observing her very closely when you're around to see what causes her to hit. If you can predict it, then you can catch her when you start to see her get frustrated. Then say "I see you're mad/upset/frustrated, what should you do?" Using open ended questions will help her slow down enough to make a better choice and teach her to reflect on her own behavior. Feel free to message me if you have any questions.
J.D. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
Kids are not born with "poor temperments", they're born the way we are, and it's up to us to help educate and accept them. Please get some parenting classes to help you out. If you live near Los Angeles try calling the Thalian group at Cedar Sinai Hospital, or the Maple Center in Beverly Hills. I don't know your financial situation, but both of these work on sliding scales based on need. If you're not near there I'm sure they can make a reputable referral. Good luck.