14 answers

2 Year Old Toddler Won't Stop Hitting, We Have Tried Everything, Please Help!

I have a little boy who turned 2 in February. He has been hitting other toddlers, me and even little babies for over 6 months now. Honestly, I am at my wits end, I don't know what to do. We have tried all of the following and they have not worked--- timeouts (done the proper way), explaining that hitting hurts and we don't do it, making him leave immediately when he hits (at the park, etc.), really long time outs, taking away favorite toys, tv time, etc., talking about it and feelings, making him apologize to the child he hit and explaining it hurts them. We have never hit him or spanked him, ours is not a violent household, we use words. So as you can see, we've tried a bunch of things. I am not sure what else to try??? Today I am on the verge of tears because he hit the same little girl who is just a couple of months younger than him for probably the 50th time at the park. Understandably, her mom has become not so understanding. I am truly embarrased by my son's behavior. I cannot believe he hits other children, especially girls and babies that are helpless. Usually they have not done anything to him, they are simply there.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi M.,
I'm sorry you're going through this but wanted to share I experienced the same thing when my son was the same age. I agree with Peg, at this age 2 year olds don't have much impulse control and what I did was constantly shadow my son ALL the time. For a good 6-9 months, I kept him within arms length any time we were at a park, play date or activity that included other children. I would also let the other moms or parents know he was going through this phase and most were very understanding and even offered their own advice or tips.
I know this can be quite stressful and embarrassing for parents who have little ones that hit, pull hair, bite, etc, etc. Have you noticed certain times of the day when he tends to hit? I know my son would act up right before nap time or if he was tired, hungry or over stimulated.
Just be consistent in correcting him and know you are not alone. Good luck and hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

At two, kids don't have a very good understanding of cause and effect, so any follow-through must be immediate to connect it emotionally to the behavior (this is true of any behavior). Hitting is a perfectly logical and normal thing for your son to do, because kids that age have little empathy, and because it gets him whatever he wants, even if that is only a sense of physical control. Taking away toys or other activities would be puzzling or meaningless, because it's not logically connected to the behavior. Spanking might only reinforce the behavior (hitting to stop hitting?), so I'm glad you avoid that.

And children that young have little-to-no impulse control, and will not develop much for another year or three, depending on the child. Two year-olds are fascinated by other tiny people, but really don't know what to do with them, and easily become possessive or overexcited around other kids.

Since you know this to be a problem, and know the times and places where it happens regularly, you will need to shadow your son. The closer the adult response is to the behavior, the better. This is what child-care professionals do in daycare situations when a child consistently hits, pushes or bites. Watch for the signals that the hitting is about to happen, and intercept him then. Hold his arm and tell him firmly "No hitting," then remove him from his potential victim. Give the other mom permission to do the same thing with your son – it will probably have twice the effect that way.

This will work, but it will still take time. Don't keep switching your tactics, because there is no logical pattern that way to make a consistent impression on your son. Good luck, and hang in there, M.. You are not alone in this. Your little guy will get it eventually.

3 moms found this helpful

when my son was going through a hitting phase i got some books..one was
"Hands are not for Hitting" and also "Mouths Are Not for Biting" and "I Can Share" i read them every day to him and he got the message..i also have taught him to "hug it out" so we hug when he gets upset..he sometimes hits me when he doesn't get his way and i say.."do u need a hug?" we hug and its all over with..try those books and try hugging him when he flips out..and teach him to hug not hit..

good luck

xo

2 moms found this helpful

Two year olds can't reason. They don't understand that they are hurting others-their brains just haven't developed that way yet. Keep talking to him it will sink in eventually.
It comes down to he wants what he wants and hitting gets it for him quicker than anything else. He's not a bad kid, hitting at this age is normal and he's not being mean, he's being two! When he grows up these traits help him become a leader and you'll be grateful for his ability to assess what needs to be done and find solutions. Right now it just needs to be channeled.

Warning other mom's, watching him like a hawk, watching when he's tired/ hungry/ frustrated all help. Always making sure there are enough toys around (2 year olds DON'T share) and distracting will help. Since control is part of the issue allow him a little leeway in other things. Are there decisions he wants to make but isn't allowed? See what you can do to loosen up and give him control.

Like I said, he's not bad, you're not a bad mom, he's not being mean, he's being a strong willed, achiever. Keep working with him (patience is key, if he feels over dominated he'll try to control more and it will make it worse). Set guidelines and rules, and help him see there are better ways to get things done.
Good luck

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,
I'm sorry you're going through this but wanted to share I experienced the same thing when my son was the same age. I agree with Peg, at this age 2 year olds don't have much impulse control and what I did was constantly shadow my son ALL the time. For a good 6-9 months, I kept him within arms length any time we were at a park, play date or activity that included other children. I would also let the other moms or parents know he was going through this phase and most were very understanding and even offered their own advice or tips.
I know this can be quite stressful and embarrassing for parents who have little ones that hit, pull hair, bite, etc, etc. Have you noticed certain times of the day when he tends to hit? I know my son would act up right before nap time or if he was tired, hungry or over stimulated.
Just be consistent in correcting him and know you are not alone. Good luck and hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful

I have to add my vote for the hit/bite/pinch back method. My brother was horrendous as a youngster, from birth to 16-17?... Major anger issues. Fits where he'd turn red-purple screaming he was sooo mad at 3 mos! He was really bad with pulling hair, hitting, biting, etc when he was 2-11 or so... With the biting, we tried everything (and my parents are both educated in child development/education, my mother (and grandmother) with a specialization in discipline). Eventually it took biting him back to stop the biting. Each of us had to do it. My dad was the first to try it, totally fed up with it, he quit biting dad, still bit everyone else... So, Mom bit him, he quit biting her. I was the last...too much of the he's your little brother, you're not supposed to hurt him, etc lol... I finally bit him back, that just left the poor dog, which wasn't allowed to bite anyone, so he just ran and hid from him til he finally quit biting at 4? So, there are times where you just have to make them understand it by doing it to them, not the nicest way, and it is "mortifying" as someone put, but when they're biting hard enough to leave marks all the time... you've got to do something, it's unacceptable, period, it hurts - see? Sucks, but sometimes, that's just what it takes.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you asked him why he hits? what he is upset about? Maybe he does not know a different way to express his frustration. Do you get involved with the play time so right when he hits you know why he hit? Our nanny was amazing at getting right into the middle of play and when something would happen(or was about to happen) she would explain to our son what emotion he was feeling and a different way to handle the situation. While Mamapedia is very helpful, I usually post here when I am like you- on the verge of tears! Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My son was a hitter, and it wasn't until he was about 4 that he started to restrain himself. It's upsetting, but not unusual for toddlers and early preschoolers to do things like this.

I'll just add my consensus to the other posts to stay close to your son and physically intervene (kindly and firmly) when he's ready to hit. He doesn't yet have a grasp of what the other person is feeling being on the receiving end. (or if he does, he doesn't yet care LOL) So you need to be his restraint for him until he matures enough to understand the full picture.

((hugs!) This is hard!

1 mom found this helpful

if you have a few hours - read "the Happiest Toddler on the Block" by Karp.
Basically.. you might need to really simplify your words. First let him know you 'get' why he's doing it. Tommy's (put your kid's name here) MAD, really MAD! It was Tommy's turn, Tommy want to go first. (or whatever the issue was - keep going till he realizes you "get" why he's upset.) then say BUT... NO hitting, we DONT hit. hitting hurts, Owee Owee, no hitting. hitting makes mommy SAD.
if he's doing it for a reaction, and not out of anger/frustration, then the opposite of reacting would be ignoring. get him away quickly, and not only ignoringhim, but showering attention on something else.

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