A.M. asks from Minneapolis, MN on May 29, 2009
Son Is Hitting Mommy and Daddy
I am sure this problem has been talked about before and I have read the responses but I am in need of some more insight on how to handle our 2.5 year old hitting us and I guess assurance that we are not alone with this problem. My son likes to hit myself or my husband when he thinks he is not getting his way. It is unfortunatley usually on the face. He is now also doing it at times out of no where. Today my husband and I were talking and still paying attention to our son and he just hit my husband on the leg for really no reason. We have tried getting in his face and asking him to stop and he usually continues to hit even more. We also give him spankings but I am now afraid that is giving him the idea it is ok to hit. We often put him in his room with the door shut where he can not get out (which he does not like). We make him say sorry and give a hug and calmly tell him hitting is not ok but it just seems to continue. He luckily is not doing it to anyone else but us so far. He probably is a little spoiled I have to admit but we have limits and he surely gets enough attention from us. I was hoping I could say this is phase but it has been going on for several months and I am beginning to think it is not just a phase. Any advice would greatly be appreciated!
A.F. answers from St. Cloud on May 30, 2009
Hi A.! I just wanted to reassure you that spanking does NOT make a child hit. We use spanking for open defiance situations and neither of our kids have EVER hit anyone! Most people who are against spanking think that ALL spanking is used in anger....but it's NEVER supposed to be. My nephew has never been spanked and he hits people constantly.
For the hitting thing, you could try holding his hand FIRMLY sandwiched between your hands and say "no hitting". Or when you get down in his face, talk to him while holding his arms to his side so he is unable to hit you. We use this for temper tantrums with our daughter. We just hold her hand and say "it's time to stop" until she stops. Sometimes it takes a while but it works pretty well.
You can try time outs but anything you do has to be consistent at all times.
Also....I think what you are doing WILL work in time. As long as you are consistent and do your discipline routine EVERY time he will figure out that you mean business. You are teaching him well and he will soon understand that you mean business.
K.B. answers from Milwaukee on May 30, 2009
My daughter use to do that (it still happens once in a blue moon)and this is what we do:
-We get on her level and say 'do not hit' we use to say 'please do not hit' but that is seen as you asking him to stop therefore he has the choice to say yes or no to that.
-After we say 'do not hit' it is time out, she has to stay there for at least two minutes or longer until she is ready to say 'sorry' and give us a hug.
-Before/after the hug/sorry we also say 'honey we do not hit to get attention. you are big enough to use your words if you want something.' This way they have something to replace the bad action. We then go over some simple things she could say like 'mommy/daddy can you play with me,' 'mommy/daddy I feel lonely,' 'mommy/daddy something is wrong,' and so on.
Kids know how to do all the wrong things (we are not perfect), so we have to teach them the right way to handle things and replace those bad/wrong actions with the right way.
I agree with you on the spanking part, may not be the best discipline when child is hitting. You are pretty much repeating what your son did so sending mixed messages.
R.S. answers from Des Moines on May 30, 2009
I really feel for you. This must be very frustrating. I know that I have now almost "run the gamut" of phases (my oldest just graduated), and hitting is still the behavior that gets my dander up the most. It must be a mom thing or a female thing, because my husband takes it in stride as well as any other misbehavior. Anyway, just to say "I feel for you!"
I do want to say that spanking, if done correctly, is not confusing to a hitting child. We really need to give the children credit--they are very smart. They know that what they do and what you do are not the same (unless they are--you should never be "hitting" a child). My children have all been spanked at some time, and none of them have had ongoing problems with hitting as a result.
I wanted to queue in on a few things that you said. When you said that he hit your husband for really no reason, do you mean that he wasn't provoked at all? Or was this another case of not getting his way? If it's really for no reason, it seems a bit odd. But I think you mean for no reason that makes much sense to us. In that case, you may want to spend some time trying to really figure out what is driving him to do it. Discipline works so much better if you can get to the feelings or understandings behind the behavior.
You mentioned a few things that you have done about it (spanking, putting in his room, explaining). If you are doing something different each time, then that might be confusing. It works much better to decide on one consequence that is motivating enough and then apply that same consequence every time. Try not to let it go even once, or any more than you can truly help. And try not to react differently--keep it very predictable.
As far as certain punishments, I don't think the room thing is the best idea for training at this age. It probably makes him very angry, which ruins his chance to learn anything. And within a few seconds he's probably forgotten why he's there. Something you can administer immediately and be finished with quickly is really best. That's why I use spanking at this age. Understand that he's just being a normal little guy testing his limits and that it is a good thing in that way (he's giving you a great teaching opportunity) and you may find that it doesn't make you angry. Then a quick spanking (I assume you know how little it takes--if not, do NOT use this method) with a very short explanation and then a time of cuddling is all you need.
You said it has been going on for several months--that's how you know it's not just a phase. But I assume that doesn't mean you have been consistently been working on it for that long. So consider the beginning of your consistent training to be your starting point and be ready to be patient with your method for a little while (sometimes such little ones need lots of repetition) and it probably won't seem like so long that you have been dealing with it.
Enjoy that little guy! He'll be grown up so fast (and you'll be laughing about this), but today he's yours to hold.
A.A. answers from Minneapolis on May 31, 2009
You're not alone. My almost 3 year old will try and hit my face when he's not getting his way and has been for some time as well. He doesn't do it all the time, only when he's really angry he's not calling the shots. Both my husband and I grab his hand, make eye contact and say "no hitting, we do not hit" and encourage him to use his words. We use time outs and make sure to explain he is getting a time out because he hit us. I so feel you on this, it just breaks my heart when he does it.
K.L. answers from Madison on May 30, 2009
I would say that the spanking may be confusing him. It is hard to understand why you can do something that he can't.
We have a hitting problem too and it is slowly getting better. We use time outs (SuperNanny style) and also are giving him alternative ways to express his anger/frustration. This is definitely a tough age where our needs/desires and theirs seem to conflict.
All the best.