18 Month Old Hitting Other Kids

Updated on November 06, 2011
S.K. asks from Chicago, IL
7 answers

I try to take my son out to meet other kids and have fun, but what does my son do? He hits them. Or tries to hug them and in the end pushes them to the ground. He is my first , and I am at a loss at how to handle this behaviour. I tell him not to do it, but he still does. I think he doesn't realize what he is doing is wrong. I would see him trying to touch/hit kids on their face and have recently realized he actually points out their nose,eyes,cheeks etc for them. Cute but I don't want him to do it .Most of the time the other kids walk away or their moms take them away. I think he has learnt this behaviour at daycare. I am told he learns all this watching the older kids do it and then does the same with kids younger/smaller than him. I was told this is normal behaviour at his age.
I want to ask all of you lovely moms - how do I stop this behaviour? I really want him to get together with other kids and play. Not hit them. He also throws things a lot at home (playfully) and sometimes throws tantrums for little silly reasons. I put him on time-outs and most of the time he does get it, and stops doing it for that moment.Next time he does it, I have to put him on time out again and he stops doing it. Not the best plan but atleast I can get him to stop what he is doing . But I am not sure what to do when we are out with other people and he hits little kids. Time outs are not an option there. And I can't take eyes off him for one second. I am so worried he will hit some kid and hurt them or something. And their moms are all right there. I think they understand but who would want to let their kids play with a kid that hits? How do you handle such behaviour with your kids ? I appreciate your advice. Thanks!

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answers from Honolulu on

Kids at this age... DO NOT play, interactively yet nor know how. They do what is called "parallel play." Look it up online.
They do not know, social rules yet. Nor how to socialize.

But you need to teach him boundaries. Even if he does not fully understand yet... over time, their understanding of it will evolve. And get more sophisticated.

And... do not take him to socials or groups, when he is tired. When babies and kids are tired... or over-tired... this is bad timing, to take them to social events. They lack patience and focus when tired and get more fussy and over-stimulated and throw tantrums.
Make sure he naps and is rested, and fed, before taking him out.

You need to distract him at times like this. Tell him 'no.' Time outs at this age, well it will not be like a 5 year old.
Instead, with him, pick him up and take him somewhere else.
Don't lecture him or explain in too wordy a manner. Kids this age, will not have the attention span for it.

And yes, you have to always be near him and supervise. That is how it is at this age, and older.
Kids this age, have NO impulse-control, yet. Nor is it fully developed, yet. Even in a 2-3 year old.

Again, kids this age, do not know how to socialize yet nor interactively like an older child. At this age, they don't even understand emotions yet nor even know the names for their emotions and they lack... coping-skills for any frustrations.

Kids this age, simply are not fully developed yet, socially.
Even Teenagers are socially clumsy and don't know everything yet.
So your child, is very young, to be adept at this.
It takes all of childhood, to learn.
Heck, even many adults, don't know how to socialize nicely.

Keep your expectations, age appropriate.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

You need to just have to watch him very carefully and remind him,

"we do not hit, we use soft touches."

"We are soft and gentle when we play."

"Hands are not for hitting."

"It hurts when you hit."

"We do not throw anything in the house."

"We can throw the ball when we are outside."

"We do not throw anything inside."

You may have to say his name first. "Jimmy, we do not hit!"

When he does hit, YOU remove HIM.. Not the other way around where the other parent takes their child away.

Have your son sit on the ground next to you.
Try to anticipate when your son is about to hit r throw a fit. Give him words. "Jimmy, I know you are frustrated, but use your words not your hands." "Jimmy, I can tell you are angry, use your words not your hands" "We do not hit.. "

"I can tell that hurt your feelings, do you need a hug?"
"I am sorry you are upset, come sit next to M. for a minute till you feel better".

Fit throwing at homes means, you either step over him and go on with your business, pick him up and place him in his room, or walk into your room and give yourself a time out.

Out in public, you pick him up and leave. Place him in the car seat.. maybe wait outside of the car, till he calms down or get yourself ready to drive with the screaming.

Once he calms down, let him know it was HIS throwing a fit that you all had to leave. Even if you are the store.. Just leave the basket and tell them you are sorry, but you have to leave.

Purchase many pairs of ear plugs and keep them in your purse and around the house so you can use them. It will not totally block it out, but it will take the edge off.

It takes lots of repetition and you just have to pay attention until he gets these concepts. You know who he is and what sets him off, so intercept these behaviors.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Your son is still too young to know how to play with other littles. He's in the parallel play stage, where he fascinated by other people his size, but is only on the leading edge of learning social conventions. Like not hitting or knocking over. So rather than just telling him not to do those things, you will probably have to physically pick him up and move him to where some interesting toy is, consistently and immediately every time. This is called shadowing, and is used effectively in daycare situations where one child is overpowering or hurting other kids.

He'll begin to figure this out with some time and consistent shadowing. But verbal direction and correction are probably just not strong enough yet.

He's also at what I think of as "the overhand stage." Kids in this age group are making important body-mind connections, and overhand throwing or hitting become something of a compulsion. Because it's something he needs to do, help him find acceptable outlets for his practice. He can throw soft toys into a basket or through a hula hoop. He can hit a special pillow to his heart's content. But he is not permitted to throw hard, damaging, breakable, or hurtful objects, or to hit people or things that can be hurt. Again, shadowing will get him there faster. And having appropriate alternatives can help reduce his need to hit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

Try and "anticipate" the behavior...catch him BEFORE he hits or hugs too hard and remind him about "gentle touches"...don't worry about this too much it is SO SO typical!!! My 20 month old grandson is into the hitting..throwing stage...if he isn't hitting someone or something he is throwing something. My daughter has started using "hold it" to tell him not to throw things...sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. He tends to hit the animals in the house...she is constantly catching his hand and showing him the gentle touch that she wants him to use...and then telling him to "love the kitty nicely" or love Meika ( their dog) sweetly...see how she loves you". She will tell him this at least 10,000 times before it finally sinks in...and so will you. The other mothers understand...and just the fact that you are intervening and trying to protect their child...and teach your child is probably enough to keep them happy. When my daughter gets upset is when some other child is being too rough and the mother isn't trying to stop the action.
I do not think time outs are a good idea for any child...and especially at this tender young age. When he is having a "tantrum"...what is really going on is that there are emotions and feelings that he simply doesn't know how to deal with and so he just lets it boil over. This is when he needs you the MOST...use this as a teaching moment...."Honey I understand that you are upset that we can't play with your blocks right now, but we will play with them as soon as we get home from the store!!! Which of these toys would you like to take with you in the car? ". Or "Sweetie, I know that you really wanted to play with the car that Tony has but look, there are some other really fun cars over here in the toy box!!". Help him learn how to deal with those emotions and help him see ways that he can be content without necessarily getting his way every single moment of the day. What are you teaching him with time outs? That when he is upset and feeling scared that he has to just stuff the emotion and be quiet....if your husband came home and found you upset and crying about something and told you to "go sit in time out"....what kind of message would that be giving you about how he felt about you and how would you feel about that?
And now I will get back down off of my "anti time out soap box"...and let you go about your day :-)
Just try and relax and realize that your son is doing EXACTLY what every other child his age does...and....this too shall pass!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

With his limited vocabulary and developing social skills, hitting and pushing is his way to get the other kid's attention. Hitting is his way of saying " Hi !! How are ya? Wanna play?", pushing is him saying " Ok I am done. Time to move on. Enough." You have gotten some good advice so far how to discourage this behaviour. In time he will figure out on how to interact with his peers. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Hi SK,
I think you are getting the idea: you need to stay vigilant.

At 18 months, your baby does understand when you tell him not to do something, and responds to your discipline. That's good! Keep it up. His memory will get better as he gets older.

But in public situations, don't let him wander out of your reach near other kids. He will hit, and you know the other Moms will remember him, and not want their kids around him. If you stay on top of him, he will learn not to hit sooner, and you will avoid frustrating the other moms.

Both my boys were "hit" as infants, but I noticed it was by jealous toddlers, not little ones looking for play, like yours. But I always appreciated when their mom was ready to step in before M. (after the first incident, I got to be pretty fast at grabbing flying fists), and stop the behavior themselves.

Then, when my boys got to that age, I was right there when they played with smaller toddlers, just in case.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

If he responds to time outs, I would totally use that in public! It's so completely non punitive, no one would think you were mean at all. You could keep consistent that way. Its pretty rare for an 18 month old to care about time outs, so maybe you should stick with them, they may work. If they're stopping the behavior, great. No one will frown on a time out. Remember though, your goal is to stop the behavior, not just teach him to cooperate with time outs. I have friends who think their kids are so great for sitting in time outs, but don't seem to mind that they're still hitting! :-0

I stopped all hitting and aggression with firm "no" and swats to the hands. Now that you CAN'T do in public, so we taught it at home. It was instant, so in public all I needed was "no" and they would drop their hand and never poke, push, hit, whatever. It's an option. It has been super nice to relax at the park and never worry about that kind of stuff and have kids respond to a calm verbal warning. We also disciplined tantrums and have tantrum free kids. In my personal observance, sympathizing with tantrums makes for pretty scary 2s 3s 4s and even 5s. I would nip it. There are plenty of times to show understanding and love when your child is genuinely hurt or sad. Don't indulge the fits.

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