16 Month Old Hitting

Updated on November 04, 2009
D.B. asks from Coulee City, WA
7 answers

SO my daughter who is now 16 months has started hitting all the time. We have tried taping her hand and telling her no no, or hitting is not nice, but she just laughs and runs away. We have also tried giving her a light pat on the bum and telling her the same thing, which worked for a few days, but not anymore. So I tried time outs yesterday. If she would hit I would place her on the time out stool for 1 minute and then when the timer beeped, I would tell her I put her in time out for hitting and she then has to go give the person she hit a love. But then again this morning she is hitting again and nothing is working! I know she is young, but I watch a few friends' kids and I do not want her hitting them or her brother! Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks and Gob Bless!

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answers from Seattle on

Hitting and biting is a very normal phase at that age.
While there certainly are different ways to deal with unwanted behaviors, I would suggest that in this case to you refrain from a "pat on the butt" - kinda hard for a child to understand that hitting is not okay, except when mommy and daddy do it Edit: Sorry I read taping not tapping. I still think though, that it is counterproductive, if you are trying to teach that hitting is not ok.

Whatever you decide on for discipline you have to remind yourself of two things: there are no quick fixes and you must be consistent!
Just because you tried time outs yesterday, it does not mean that she will not test her limits again today or an hour later or five minutes later for that matter. At this age they are still learning the concept of action and response, so your response must be predictable all the time. Pick something and stick with it.
We went with a warning/timeout method. First time hitting I issued a warning, a reminder that hitting hurts and it is not nice and if you hit, you will sit in time out. Next time hitting, I put her in time out. She usually stayed there no more than a minute. We also taught her to apologize and give a gentle touch. It took a few weeks, but the hitting and biting have since completely stopped.

For me this age was very difficult, I had trouble adjusting from parenting a baby to parenting a toddler, but as much as she seems, grown up and cocky, laughing at you when you discipline her, remind yourself that she is STILL a baby and that she will learn to respond to gentle discipline just like she would learn to respond to physical pain or restraints. It may take a little longer to learn but is very much worth it.

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answers from Portland on

Hi D.,

Buy or check out "Hands are Not for Hitting". The whole series is fabulous! A reminder for what hands are for and other things she CAN hit work well. "We hit pillows, not people. Hitting people hurts." Also try consoling the person who got hit right away taking the attention AWAY from her. This worked well for my kiddo and my sister (a preschool teacher) swears by this method.

Good luck!

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answers from Portland on

You said that she laughs and runs away. Sounds like this is a game to her. Substitute some other way for her to get your attention and have fun. Perhaps a tickle would work. Tell her, as you have been doing, that hitting is not OK, but then find some other way to have fun.

When she hits in anger place her in time out. At a little over one it's not so much a regular time out as it's removing her from the situation and letting her know that hitting is not an acceptable way to express anger.

I am a playground volunteer and frequently see kids "hitting" each other in fun. They are old enough to know the difference in the way hitting is done. YBecause your daughter is not old enough to make that differentiation you have to be clear about not hitting at any time.

Are there older children or adults in your family who use "hitting" in a playful or affectionate way? If so, I suggest that you make everyone aware of how confusing this is to your daughter and perhaps they could help by not hitting in her presence? I'm not sure that is practical. If they don't stop your daughter will still learn by your consistent enforcement to her of not hitting.

I don't think slapping her hand is extreme but I doubt that it's helpful. at least the slap is to her hand which is related to her use of hands. Swatting her on the bottom does seem a bit extreme. Bottoms and hands are in no way connected. Discipline works best when it's connected to the activity you want to stop.

Hitting is normal at this age and will continue to be a concern for several years. She may learn to not hit at this age but pick it up again later. So don't stress about it. Accept it as a phase, deal with it, and then don't worry about it.

Other kids will be hitting her. You don't have to be embarrassed or worried about your daughter hitting other kids. Reassure the child who has been hit and remove your daughter from their presence with as little excitement as possible.



answers from Bellingham on

I'll tell you what worked with my twins sons...as soon as you catch her hitting, firmly say "no" then stop giving her attention for it. She may be doing it as a way to get yours/others attention. Don't feed into any negative emotions of it - as she seems to have made a game out of it. Don't do anything which will reaffirm that hitting is okay -children learn what they live- so no tapping, etc. However, I did notice that my sons responded positively when I would pay attention to WHEN they were hitting - they were only trying to communicate something that they didn't know how yet, so I would catch them when they would hit other children and tell them "no, use your voice" (she should have simple words by now, like "hi,") so if you can teach her how to "say" something you might get her off the hitting, if that is what is really going on. Good luck with this...



answers from Seattle on

This is the age when toddlers experiment with hitting. There are many ways to handle it. What ever way you do, it would be best if you maintained it for at least a month. Stability is good for toddlers. Try the time outs by putting her face to the wall for one minute or putting her in a room away from others. Just for a minute--no longer. Make she knows why she is in time out.

This is a phase and she will grow out of it. She just needs help to grow out of it more quickly.


answers from Seattle on

You have some good responses so far, but I figured I'd throw in my two cents as well.

My son started hitting at about the same age, and reacted the same way.

For us, instead of punishing him for something he didn't understand was wrong, we changed the behavior - no hitting hands, but gentle hands. If he hit me, he had to be gentle to the same spot - making it better. Now, at 27 months, I still see him go to hit, and he makes himself stop and be gentle instead - he looks resigned to 'having' to be nice instead of hurtful.

Try teaching her to be gentle instead of hitting, and see how that goes. Maybe punishing for this particular action isn't the way to go (it took us a while to figure that out).



answers from Seattle on

I'm willing to bet that she learned this behavior from her big brother or the friends' kids. So, you need to watch their behaviors as much as her's. When you see her hit someone, they need to cry and you need to explain to her that she hurt them and that's not nice. She's young, may not understand fully, but she knows what crying is about and what pain is. Putting her aside from the other kids, not allowing her to play with them or to talk with them is a good thing. This could be for as long as 15-30 minutes. No toys, no tv, left to her own devices and imagination. She's really too young for timeouts in a corner to be effective because the amount of time in the corner would only be about 3 minutes, (2 minutes per year of age is the rule of thumb). Her attention span isn't that long to make the correlation.
I'm willing to bet that her vocabulary and language skills aren't that developed yet, so this hitting may be her way of getting attention and wanting to be included. Read to her, describe what you are doing with her during the day, give her the words to use, over and over again. She wants to be included with the big kids but doesn't have the words to express her wants and needs. Help her out.

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