2 Yr Old Hitting

Updated on October 07, 2008
S.P. asks from Portland, OR
11 answers

I have a 2 yr old that has been hitting me and my husband quite a bit. If he doesn't get his way, he gets very frustrated and immediately lashes out at us. We have been assertive by saying 'no', but he tends to laugh at us and we aren't sure how to address this behavior. Also, what do you do if you are out in public and they are frustrated you are making them leave something fun and they start hitting. Time out seems like a great idea but not easy when you are running errands!

Please help!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Seattle on

I do time out no matter where we are. I find an out of the way place and put him or her on their hiney and tell them they're in time out and they can't get up till I tell them too. They really HATE getting time out in public but you have to be consistent or they'll just make everytime you leave the house a living nightmare.

and one more thing, When my DD was really obnoxious at about 2.5 about leaving places I told her we weren't going to anymore playdates until she learned how to leave w/o making an ordeal out of it. (I always give the 10 minute, 5 minute, 3,2,1 minute warnings). Once she realized I was serious and we stayed home for a week or so she was prepared to do much better.

C.-WAHM of ~5 y/o virtual twins
Owner: http://www.BeHappierAtHome.com

More Answers


answers from Seattle on


Instead of getting mad at him when he hits, try validating his feelings. He's two and still not able to fully articulate his needs and wants. As frustrating as it is when he acts out, I'd be grateful that it's just you and your husband that he's hitting right now. The two of you are his safe harbor and he feels safe enough to emotionally unload when the world becomes too much.

When he gets frustrated for being told no, get down on his level and validate his feelings. Something like: I know that you are frustrated that you can't have the _____________, but it is not okay to hit me.

Or, what has really worked for my 5 year old, and is working for my 19 month old is to be their voice. Something like: Mommy! I'm so. mad. that you didn't let me have ______________. I'm really frustrated that you told me no!

This has worked wonderfully for my daughter. She'll be in mid scream and instantly stop her tantrum when someone gives voice to why she's mad. I don't remember,,,,,yes I do, we taught him more signs to reduce his frustrations.

Part of his acting out is being two and testing the boundaries. Another part is the frustration of not being able to communicate fully with those around him. My daughter is already in her terrible twos, and it's driving me up the wall. She's **a lot** worse than her brother. <sigh>

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I would put him in time out as soon as he hits one of you and tell him something like, we do not hit, hitting hurts and it isn't nice, when you hit me then you have to go to time out. Once he realizes he doesn't get any attention from hitting, and he is ignored while in time out, he will soon find it not so funny anymore.

When leaving something that they don't want to leave, I always gave my son a few warnings that we were leaving and I also would tell him what fun thing we were going to go do when we left and if he still threw a fit then I just carried him out and totally ignored his bad behavior. That is just a stage and it will end eventually. I know how embarrassing it can be.



answers from Portland on

Hi S. -

Check out "Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline". Great book about changing the way we see our children's behavior and gaining greater understanding and control of our own. It's surprising how much we are taught in the first few years of our life in ways I never imagined.
Start seeing those moments of chaos as opportunities to teach. Try to feel the emotions of your toddler, allow them to be validated, state what you do not like and give choices for behavior. It definitely is easier said than done - I'm still working through cursing issues with my 22 month old - but it is so worth it to hear them making the connections in their head!
Best of luck!



answers from Portland on

Hi S.! You have to remember that you are the parent here. You can not tolerate hitting. That will only lead to more aggressive behavior in the future if you don't nip it in the bud here. Saying no to a toddler, I have learned only perpetuates their behavior. You must be specific and say something like: "Do not hit", or "hitting is not okay" or "when you hit me, it makes me sad, and it hurts mommy" and then give a direct consequence, EVERY time. Like a time out, send to their room, to the corner...whichever is most effective for your child. Two year olds love defiance as they are finding their independance! I have had some rough times with my 2.5 yr. old...but it is getting better already. Good luck to you!



answers from Seattle on

I have a granddaughter who is 2 yrs old also and hits quite a bit, her mother, her father, her grandfather and myself. I usually grab her hand after she hits and kiss her hand and tell her its not nice. She usually smiles at me, has hit me a few more times after that, but seemed to think about it before she lashed out me again. Perhaps try this approach, good luck!!!



answers from Seattle on

I had the same problem with both my boys, and yes, public is very challenging. Hitting is a normal experimental project at this age. A good way that I've found to guide them to know what is ok and what is not is to use a sort of game. When they hit or try to hit, you immediately stop what you're doing (which can be challenging sometimes, I know), get down on your knees and get eye-to-eye, and in a calm but FIRM voice, say "hitting is NOT acceptable" (with a serious look on your face), then change your expression to a happy one, put out your hand and say "you can give me five - that's OK". This changes the focus to a positive one, which then allows you to try to understand and discuss (in simple terms) what's making them upset and better ways to handle it (like talking to mommy, or taking some deep breaths, or sitting alone for a moment to calm down.) I'm not saying it's easy, but it's the best solution I've found.

Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

I went through this too :) It is frusterating. My two year old at the time was hiting mom and dad and her older sister. It took a lot of patience but we made a time out corner and every time she hit 2 min. in time out with no toys or anything. (tv off if is on) if she got out of her time out before it was over calmly back in time out.. she got the hang of it after few days we were serious. Also since her sister is way older if her sister hit back she went into time out.. we made a rule the older sister not allowed to hit back tell her no firmly and tell mom and dad or an adult.
Best of luck.



answers from Portland on

Hi S.
All the other advice is good tho it takes a lot of time and effort on everyones part to train the child. If all that does not work than remember that a 2 year old does not have the slightest clue that it is hurting something or someone. All they know is that it makes them feel better and they get attention, it does not really matter if it is positive or negitive it is just attention. I attempted all the ways avalable with my boy when he started the hitting. The only thing that got threw to him was when he hit he got hit and in that he learned that it hurts so he stopped hitting. Remember that a 2 year old is testing the world around them and will push all the limmits just to see what will happen. They do not have the understanding and skills to do anything but absorb the world around them and attempt to figure out how they fit and get there needs met. They have no rools untill they are tought what will work and what wont and the rewards and consiquences of there actions. The last time he threw a tantrum and started hitting and throwing things in a store, his little britches were pulled down right there and spanked with a hand. He never did that again. If he threw a uncontroaled temper tantrum at home out came the ice watter to chill him out and after a few times just the action of getting the watter was enough to get him back into asimilance of controal. In the bible it says spair the rod and spoil the child. Now days things are different and that is one of the reasons a lot of the children are out of controal as young adults. Just saying NO carries NO weight or consiquance and your child knows this and that is why the child just laughs at you, HE is in controal of your familly and apparently is traning you well.
Even tho we humanoids like to think we are better than animals we are still just monkies that have a lot of high teck toys. Watch how monkies or the great garilla rases there young. No matter how much we as people want to think we are seperat from nature the fact is we are all connected and a part of and dependant on nature. So we are still just smart monkies.
I do not advicate violance against children and the actions above are allways actions of last resort. If children are not tought there core values and a good foundation of cause and affect between birth and 7 they will have to learn it the really hard way threw the penal systom or worse the world of the gangs. I sugest that you go get some parenting classes so you can learn what you missed growing up as to what a good parent is and how to be one.
The best of you will bring out the best of your children as will the oppisit.



answers from Portland on

Hi S.,

I think you have gotten some great advice (although spanking a child or throwing water on them looks and sounds like "out of control parent" to me.

In my experience, "NO" is very ineffective and teaches toddlers to go around saying "NO" and telling their parents "NO". It works much better to say in a firm voice "Gentle hands please, or hands are not for hitting, if you do it again, then you will have a time out". Time outs only work if they are used 100% of the time. I have given my daughter time outs in the grocery store, Target, the church nursery and wherever else she misbehaves. It's inconvenient at times, but neccesary to drive home the fact that the behavior is inappropriate no matter where we are.

Like someone else wrote, much of a 2 year olds frustration comes from not be able to express their feelings and wanting power and control.

I haven't seen anyone mention that it really helps to anticipate the "triggers" and head them off before he gets frustrated. This includes taking care of his needs while running errands- don't let him get too hungry (bring snacks), bored (play games like "what does the cow say", sing, etc while shopping- embarrassing maybe, but less so than a screaming out of control child). Shop at the time of day when he is at his best, most rested self. Tell him what you are doing and the kind of behavior you expect, warn him before it's time to go, etc. If you are shopping and plan to buy him something, you can use it as incentive for good behavior. If you don't plan to buy him something, make sure to tell him that from the start- "We are shopping for groceries today and will not be buying any toys"- and then stick to it and always praise heavily if you have had a smooth experience, "You were a really terrific shopper, helper, etc." I will also tell my daughter, "Thank you for being so patient, I know this is taking a long time...".

I have a friend whose 3 year old would scream and cry when leaving a play date. She would say, "Your screaming and crying makes me think you didn't have a good time. If you want to do this again, then you need to show me you had fun. Let's talk about what a fun time it was. What did you like best..". With my daughter I have said, "I know it's hard to leave when you are having such a good time, but it's time to say goodbye now. We will come back again".

If you stay calm and in control, it is reassuring to them when they feel out of control. Be consistent and you will get through this.

By the way, I have a step-son who is twelve. Not a lot of difference in the way two year-olds and twelve year olds tantrum. Get your practice in now and stop the hitting now and you'll be ready for the middle school years :)



answers from Seattle on

Hi - My younger son was biting at daycare, and I bought a book called "Teeth are not for biting". It really helped him! There is also a book by the same person called "Hands are not for hitting". I bought them off of Amazon.com. It cant hurt to try it! The reviews for the teeth book were really good and it really did help my son to stop biting at daycare. I hope this helps!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches