18 Month Old and Hitting? What Do I Do?

Updated on February 14, 2008
R.P. asks from Cheyenne, WY
10 answers

I have an 18 month old that has started hitting. At first whenever he would hit me- I would yell, take his hand in mine and tell him that we don't hit in this house. He would cry give me hug and wouldn't hit again for awhile. Now he's started again- only worse- he hits, when he's angry, frustrated or even excited. he's even started to throw objects, pinch and scratch. The yelling at him no longer phases him. He looks down for a second gives me a hug and thinks that everything is okay. Other moms have told me to slap his wrist- but I don't think that hitting him to get his to stop hitting is teaching anything good. I am so frustrated I have no idea how to handle this. I would love any advice!

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answers from Rapid City on

Have you tried taking something away from him that he likes or not giving him something that he wants after he acts out. Or tried standing him in the corner?

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answers from Green Bay on

R., you need to approach your son with a firm, calm voice. Get right down to his level, look him right in the eye, and say, "We do not hit (or throw) in this house. We love each other. People who love each other don't hit. Now, you must sit in the corner for 2 minutes and be very quiet. Then you can get up and play. (Be sure you are looking right into his eyes as you say this. When the 2 minutes are up give him a hug and let him return to playing. Remember, get down to his level physically, but do not do so emotionally. Stay calm and firm.



answers from Provo on

time outs work well. Be consistent. Don't give in. He'll start to understand.



answers from Salt Lake City on

i have similar issues with my 20 months old, and stillhaven't found anything that helps. one thing i know though is that hitting him to let him know we don't hit doesn't work. it seems very hypocritical in my opinion. the only time i think hitting would be appropriate is when his behavior endangers another person and that would be the only way to get his attention. but that's just me. i just actually posted a similar request for help as my 20 months old keeps thowing things at people including our 6 months old daughter. i am curious to see what advice people will give. but if anything i am glad to know i am not the only one that is going through this right now. good luck with your child!



answers from Salt Lake City on

My son who is now 26 months also went through that phase. He would also hit himself if he knew he did something wrong. At first I would yell at him but I did want him to feel bad because he is just learning. I changed my point of view and began to calmly tell him not to hit and that it is not nice. I would also just hold his hands so he wouldn't hit while telling him "no". I took several months but now he is much better. I think it is natural for children to hit and pinch but as parents we need to teach them what is appropriate. Hope this helps! Good Luck!



answers from Provo on

I have 5 kids. My oldest is 12 and my yougest is 8 months. I know it can get very frustrating when a child acts out but the only thing you are teaching when you hit or slap a child is that it is okay to hit. It sounds like your child is trying to express any kind of emotion through hitting. Why not try to help him understand and recognize that emotion instead of acting out. I know this may seem crazy but they are smarter that you think. Another suggestion is I have always had a cool down chair in the corner that the child is put on for a few minutes. Just so that everybody can cool down a minute including you. Then you can try to talk and not just explain that it is wrong but try to let him voice more about what he was feeling at that time instead of showing it. Whatever you decide to do, I know and can promise that consistency is the key. They learn and they learn fast.



answers from Salt Lake City on

That is frustrating - I can understand where you are coming from. I think keeping as calm as possible is the best way to handle their tempers. If you show them that you can keep your cool, eventually he will learn how to keep his. Be consistent in what you do. I do think it's a phase he'll probably grow out of, but that doesn't mean it's okay he does it. I'd watch him real close with play dates too and make sure no other kids are getting pushed around and step in right away if they are. It is tough - but if you stick to what works for you, he'll grow out of the phase and be fine. Good luck! :)



answers from Grand Rapids on

I am having that problem with my 18 month old. I went though this when he was born, my middle son was 20 monthes old and would want to touch the baby and be too rough. It took about a month of watching him very close around the baby and teaching him how to gentaly touch the baby. So now with my 18 month old I watch him close and when he goes to hit I say "gentle" and then he pets their head instead of hitting. It takes many times of reminding them and teaching them how to handle the situation, but hopefully it will be a stage that passes soon.
My middle son was a biter we did it all,spanking, biting back, yelling. Nothing worked. I talked to my doctor about it and she said not to do any of the above things, but rather to show him by exapmle how to respond to things that bothered him.
I also found it to be worse when he had a change in life, like when my baby was born and when I went back to work. I have been trying extra hard to make special time with him and that seems to help too.
A few weeks ago we stopped spanking, yelling and biting back and calmly put him in time out. I have seen such a huge inprovment in his behavior since then, I wish we would have done this a long time ago.
Anyway, I would sugest calmly working on showing him the right way to respond and remember they are still learning how to handle things and we need to be paitent as we show them the way.



answers from Saginaw on

R., maybe finding him a punching bag would be helpful. Tell him if he wants to hit anybody, go punch that.

T. V



answers from Madison on

In my experience it seems to work best to respond calmly to bad behavior in toddlers. If they see that they can get a rise out of you that becomes part of the payoff for them. I know it's not always possible but try not to yell but respond calmly in a normal voice. When you think about displining toddlers you have to find something that you can do over and over and over again because that's what you'll be doing-every single time they exhibit the undesirable behavior, if possible. For that reason I don't think that wrist slapping is a good idea, you'll be doing it too much. I suggest putting him in a corner, on a step, or in his crib without toys for a certain amount of time or until he calms down. You can do that twenty times a day without feeling like you're hurting him. Once you adopt a course of action expect his behavior to get worse before it gets better. Since he's gotten away with it so far he wants to make sure you're serious this time and needs to test his boundaries. So if he gets worse at first, realize that it's working and don't give up. Continue with it and you should see improvement over time. It may take a while. I know this is frustrating because I've been there. It sucks. Calmly choose a course of action, be consistent and follow through with it.

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