2 Yr. Old Hitting Mom and Dad - How to Discipline?

Updated on April 06, 2011
M.M. asks from Santa Barbara, CA
11 answers

I have a 2 yr old boy that has started hitting my husband and I. Mostly it happens when he doesn't get what he wants, i.e. a fruit snack, watching another cartoon, etc.
I know he is trying to get a reaction from his parents but what is a proper way to discipline a 2 yr old?
We used to put him in his crib but that doesn't seem to be as effective anymore. The other day I put him in his high chair and put it in a boring place of the house, facing a boring wall...it seemed to help. I just don't want this to become a regular thing and I definitely don't want him to start hitting other children! It hasn't happened yet.

Any advice or things that worked for you?

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answers from Houston on

a gentle sitting inn the time out chair for two minutes.... also what dawn said

Dr. Sears has great advice for discipline, scroll down to the 'bothersome behavior' segment and he specifically addresses hitting:


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answers from Detroit on

My DD only tried this a couple of times when she was 2 - what I did was get a really shocked look on my face, gasp in horror (really exaggerated but I wanted it to be dramatic for her), and then very firmly say, NO! Then I would make her stand in the corner in time-out for 2 minutes, telling her, "We don't hit!" I put on a timer for 2 minutes and if she tried to leave, I put her right back and reset the timer. After it was done, I got down, looked her right in the face, and told her again, "You do not hit people! That's not nice!" But I would also give her a hug and reassure her that I still loved her, but she was not to try to hit ever again.

I don't know how much all that worked, or if she would not have done it again no matter what, but it seemed to help - she only tried a few times with me or Dad and that's been it. She's never tried to hit anyone else.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

M. to each there own but I dont think you should be disciplining your child by putting in his crib as punishment. They will associate their crib as a bad place and not want to be there.
My DD is 27 months old. She has been hitting for a few months..just started kicking too. I look at her and in a big commanding voice say "NO, we DO NOT HIT" and I immediatly put her in time out...our time out place is on the bottom steps. Its worked SO well that we rarley have those tantrums and when she does, I tell her to go to time out and she puts herself on the stairs....usually takes about 2 or 3 mins and she gets over it...comes over and says she is sorry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

DVM MOM....Is correct 100% Stop this behavior while she is so young.

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answers from Austin on

Our son, also two has been experimenting with hitting and kicking lately. I see that it's largely a sensory experiment in how it feels, what reaction he gets, etc. Our discipline is pretty simple and it has worked, but only if done consistently.

A firm "NO" and then a simple explanation like, "it's not okay to hit or kick," or "we don't hit, that's mean."

If he acts up when we're out and about or sometimes throws a fit when we try to leave the playground, we instruct him to behave like a big boy, big boys don't act like that, etc. Then we are always sure to praise him and thank him for doing what he's told.

We have never yelled, spanked, used time out, none of that. And we try very hard to not bribe either, like if you, then you'll or giving a reward like a toy or food. I'm not a big believer in any of it and I think if you lay out consistent expectations and always enforce them no matter where or when or with who...kids start to understand what they can and cannot do-just takes a little time.

Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

He is going to get mad and you need to give him something he can do when he is angry. Also the words for his feelings. What DS's preschool taught them was 'hands are for helping, when you are mad you can say you are mad, stomp your feet 3 times, or walk away and come back when you are not mad'. Worked amazingly well. Although the first time he stomped and walked away, I had to ask what he was doing. When he told me (completely seriously), I almost lost it laughing.



answers from Boston on

I'm sorry but Bethanny M.'s answer is...lets just say worrisome. She seems to be a little too passionate about hitting your child. I would much rather use my brain than my hands to teach my child right from wrong. Especially when you're trying to teach him not to hit. It lacks common sense to do to him exactly what you're trying to get him to stop doing to you.
...and, no, you're child isn't "violent" if he hits you. This is all part of normal child development. Now its the parents role to use it as a learning opportunity. There is overwhelming evidence showing that children who were hit/ beaten/ spanked grow up to be violent adults.
I skimmed through some of the other answers people wrote you and found plenty of other great ways to handle your situation.
Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

Generally, if you are paying attention, you can tell when a 2 year old is about to hit. When he swings, grab his arm in mid swing, hold it firmly (don't hurt, just firmly like you mean business) and say in a firm voice "NO! We don't hit."

That's how I handled all my kids and now my grandchildren, and they always got over it pretty quickly.



answers from San Francisco on

What worked for me is: when he hits, firmly say NO! Hitting hurts-- grab both of his hands and be at his level, eye to eye and say, No Joshua, Hitting Hurts. I don't like it when you hit me. We are going to have a time-IN until you feel better. (if you notice he is trying to get something and is frustrated, validate his feelings.) Say, Joshua--i know you want the fruit snacks, it looks like your really angry with mommy for not giving them to you. I understand how you feel-- but you cant hit mommy. Hitting hurts. When you are angry, let me know by telling mommy with words.

This works well because you validate their feelings and get what you need to. You hold him in a supportive hug until he is calm and can say sorry.

Hope this helps. Hang in there!




answers from Los Angeles on

i bought a series of books.."Hands Are Not for Hitting" "Mouths Are Not for Biting" "Excuse Me" and so on..i read them every night to my son when he was going through a phase..i also am one of those moms that hugs it out..so i always hug my son and then explain why something is not good to do...like hitting. Little toddlers have these urges and they just go with it..going to battle with them and punishing i don't think is the best answer..my friends are "time out" parents and their son is 6 now and they're still having problems w/ hitting and bullying..
My son is 5..no more problems for us with that b/c we handled discipline kindly and explained things..
so he's turned out to be a very loving child..
so try reading him the books and show him how to be kind ..when he hits you ..show him how you'd rather be touched..gently and kindly

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