2 Year Old Hitting, Kicking & Pulling Hair

Updated on December 18, 2008
M.F. asks from Jacksonville, FL
7 answers

My daughter just turned 2 on December 15th. She started a little part time pre-school in September that she attends 3 days a week for 3 hours each day. Other than while at pre-school she is home with Mama. The last month or so she has been hitting & kicking at school and even pulled hair. She is a sweet girl and she does not have any brothers & sisters so this behavior happens more at school. She is in a very loving pre-school and her class only has 8 children with 2 teachers. The teachers have been great at communicating with me about the behavior. They have used time out as well as completely ignoring my child for her behavior and then doting on the one that she hit etc. I am confident about the supervision she gets at this pre-school and that the teachers are working with my child & me in a gentle, firm loving way. I am sure this behavior was learned at school as is normal with this age. These children are all learning how we treat friends at this age so I understand some of this behavior is to be expected but want to find a way to help my child learn how to be with our friends. She has hit at me and I will place her in time out. This really does not seem to be very effective for her. I am looking for some other ideas to be a consequence for her hitting at me or the dog etc. when she is at home other than time out. It is tough at such a young age to come up with consequences that she can understand. We have had all of the "talks" and she will even say no hitting friends etc. But, I feel she is just repeating what she is hearing more than actually comprehending. I would love to hear some suggestions from all you expeienced Mommies out there.

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answers from Miami on

I happen to agree with you that time-outs don't make sense when they're so little...of course others will disagree, lol!
google 'conscious discipline' and also take a wander around this page and the links from this page:

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I am a former preschool teacher who taught 2 years olds for over ten years. You need to remember to phrase things positively to a 2 year old. Tell them to do what you want them to do. For example, say "walk" not "don't run". All the 2 year old hears is RUN. They block out those other words. Therefore, before dropping your child off at preschool you could remind her to use gentle/soft hands or our feet are for walking. This way things stay positive and you are not always focusing on what went wrong and reminding your child about negative things. It takes time to get used to talking like this because we are not used to doing it. Hope this helps.



answers from Boca Raton on

Hi M.- Its tough. Its normal for the age though. I think the most important thing is that your attitude be that the behavior is ABSOLUTELY NOT ACCEPTABLE. She may be learning it from another kid at school, but make sure there isnt anything going on at school making her angry. Are you certain she is cared for properly and in no harms way? If so, and the time outs don't work, start with telling her you will take away a toy everytime, starting with one she likes A LOT. Ride it out, its a control/testing boundaries thing. Good luck.



answers from Jacksonville on

Hi M.
I am a preschool teacher for 8 years of older ones younger 2's. What works for me is to stay calm, crouch down to their level and show them a gentle touch. Take her hand and have her gently touch the arm of the other person. If she pulls hair, have her "pet" the other persons hair that she pulled and tell her that she hurt her friend or whoever. Talking calmly and being on her eye level and being positive is more effective than a punishment. Be consistent. It's a short phase if it's handled correctly! Good luck and Merry Christmas!


answers from Jacksonville on

This may be unpopular to say, but maybe you should reconsider having her in preschool at her age. If it is (and it sounds as if it is) totally an optional thing, maybe you should opt NOT to do it for now. My oldest was mostly alone at home with me until his younger sister was born 3 weeks before his 3rd birthday. For socialization practice, we did small play-groups with 4 or 5 other moms... maybe once or twice a month- for 6 or 8 months. By the time his little sister came along, I was too tired to keep up with it. He never entered preschool classes until he was 4. Then it was solely to learn being away from me, following rules like walking in line, how to ask an adult other than me or daddy when he had a need, and how to use a "public" bathroom independently. He too went 3 days a week for about 3 hours. He had no adjustment problems and was ahead of the "curve" on pretty much everything... reading, writing, etc, because I had done all that at home with him. He was fantastic with his new baby sister, too. He learned empathy from ME. Not from poor behavior from other selfish children (I don't say that to be mean, but it is a fact. At that age, all children think the world revolves around them. They don't have the ability to see it any other way). Unless you really feel the need (for you, not her) then I would reconsider putting her in a "school" setting right now. What she can gain from being with you is matchless!
Just my 2 cents!



answers from Gainesville on

If I were you, I would take her out of Preschool. She would benefit from your loving guidance and with small playgroups with other close friends. She would have you close by to help her deal with her frustrations and to help guide her through her interactions without aggression. You could model bahavior through play with her. You could use puppets or read her stories that would teach how to handle anger or frustration. (Hands are for Helping - is one such book). If you want her to develop academically and that is the reason for sending her to preschool, you could be her first teacher. I think the benefits of staying with you outweigh the benefits of going to preschool at a young age.
(Below: This probably is not the case with your child although I would take notice of diet.)
It could be behavioral problems or problems with her diet. My children are very sensitive to foods with red dye 40 and some yellow dyes found in so many things we eat. Take notice when she is acting agressive. My son can not control his aggression when he eats stuff with this in it. My older son acts extra sensitive and less tollerant of others (even angry and physical). Both of my children are very good boys. Check out reddye40.org or other websites about red dye 40. We have found plenty to eat without this junk! It could be a total transformation - if this is the case. Good luck!


answers from Tallahassee on

Hey M.,
Time outs don't work unless the child understands why like Laura said.

The other Moms will probably not agree with what I am going to say mext - but it worked for me.

You have to find out something that your child does not like. Obviously nothing hurtful or dangerous! Then when she hits etc immediately do the thing to her that she does not like. She will link the two actions and then figure it out.

The one thing my first daughter hated was for me to leave the room without saying anything(especially if we had bee playing together) and ignore her. Also I would tell her "NO" in a stern voice and mean it. Now once she understood the time out thing - oh yes it worked, my middle daughter HATED time outs - so it worked then.

I think some parents have a hard time disciplining their "first born" and wait until it is to late to start re-inforcing it. Rules exist in life so the sooner they start to get that the better for them I say.

I have 3 children only 14 and 15 months apart, so I had to keep some form of order otherwise I would have gone crazy(ier)! Now I am dealing with homework issues!! Oh for the days of hitting, biting and timeouts - LOL.

Challenges are good they help us grow.

M. F

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