17-Month-old Hitting Himself :(

Updated on March 30, 2010
A.B. asks from Burleson, TX
5 answers

My little man has been in daycare for four months. During this time, he started hitting us ( me, daddy, grandparents, etc.). The teacher told me one other child is bad about hitting, so I just assumed, "monkey see, monkey do." Now he has started hitting himslef when he doesn't get his way. Have any of your toddlers ever done this?? It makes me feel sad... I would rahter him hit me than himself!!

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So What Happened?

Thanks ladies! I have let the granparents know how my husband and I "discipline" him, so there is consistency, but it just made me a little sad when he started hitting himself! I'm doing a lot of ya'll suggestions already, but will definitely keeping the ones I'm not using in mind. Thanks for the reassurance.

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on

Dear mommy it may very well be monkey see monkey do. but teach your child in any case that hitting anyone especially himself is wrong. Dont feel sorry for the toddler because you have to remember he wont be a toddler for long and this could become a major problem when he gets older. A lot of children become adult that torture themselve when a problem arises that they cant handle which can result in suicide or harm to someone else. This is the best time to teach him that hitting is wrong and keep reminding him of it until he's old enough to understand. Watch him closely during his learning stages if it doesnt change seek therapy. their nothing wrong with therapy it will help you deal with the situatiion early. and give you support also. If any pediatrican tries to put your child on medication Please seek a second oppinion. Because it may not be that serious. Some children grow out of thier habits after they reach a certain age. Blessings.

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answers from Redding on

Dear A.,
I don't know why kids do this, but they do.
Also, you should not rather that he hit you instead. Hitting someone, especially Grandma or Grandpa should result in a swift time out to a naughty chair and an apology. Not from YOU, but from the child.
My daughter was about that age when she decided she'd just flop down and start banging her head on the brick hearth when she didn't get her way. She would actually walk over to that spot and go for it. I stood her up and popped her on the seat of the pants. She was more shocked than anything and that pop on her diaper didn't hurt her nearly as much as the lump she knocked on her own forehead.
Hitting their own heads as a form of tantrum is pretty typical. They're mad and they want you to know it. But, I don't think you should race to them and cradle them and "oh, poor baby...are you hurt?" It's a phase and a way of acting out. It's a way of deflecting attention so maybe you'll give in and give them what they want. Some people say to ignore it and that might work too.
My daughter head banged 3 times and she got a swat each time. I didn't baby her, I didn't let her turn the stove on, I didn't let her go ahead and put a cookie in the VCR because she really, really wanted to.

The third time swat was the charm. She never banged her head again. It didn't get her anywhere.

I hope you get some great responses, but little kids do hit themselves when they don't get their way.

Best wishes

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answers from Dallas on

My daughter did the same thing. It will pass...

As for hitting you, that happens whether in daycare or not. They are trying to figure out their emotions and how to handle them. Because he knows you love him no matter what, you will get the brunt of it. He trust that no matter what he does to you, you will always be there.

Relax... just tell him not to do it and if he continues give him timeouts for it.

Good luck! :)

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answers from New York on

Ooooh. One of my sons (I have twin boys) started this at maybe a little older than your son. I stay at home with them, so it was not a learned behavior-- he just saw how upset we were when he would hit himself and therefore did it more and more when he wanted attention. Fortunately, my grandmother told me her son (my uncle) did the same thing as a child, specifically banging his head against the floor when he was frustrated and angry. She advised me to ignore the behavior and move on. When he was done acting out make sure to treat him as if it hadn't happened. And it worked! My son would have bruises in the middle of his forehead from banging his head on the wood floor, but when he stopped getting reactions from us (shock, begging him to stop, extra hugs, whatever) he also stopped the behavior. He's 2 1/2 now and every now and then goes for the head bang, but quickly remembers that it gets him nowhere and stops. This was really hard for all of us (me, DH, grandparents, etc) to work through, but really your best course of action is to NOT give him extra attention for his behavior-- whether you react positively or negatively, it's still the attention he wants. On particularly bad days I would go in my room and cry once the boys were in bed sleeping, it was that hard for me to ignore his behavior, but it needed to be done. Remember also that he has so many emotions and feelings right now and is learning how to handle them and express himself. This is an ongoing process-- help him learn how to express himself with words and that physicality it not the answer. Again, this is not easy and is a process, so whatever answers you get from other moms, keep in mind that things are not going to immediately "get better". You're just going to have to help him grow. Oh, I really do feel for you. Good luck.

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