20 Mo Old Hitting and Slapping

Updated on September 07, 2009
V.L. asks from Ripley, WV
14 answers

Just recently my daughter began slapping me in the face when she gets frustrated or mad. For example, she attends a mommy & me gymnastics class on Monday's and during class she gets mad that she has to wait her turn and when I have her sit on my lap instead of interupting the child who is taking his/her turn she screams and then slaps me in the face. I was stunned. I immediately took her outside and told her we don't hit, its not nice, and then she kissed my "boo boo". I kept a calm voice and thought I was actully doing something right... but at the end of class when it was time to leave she screamed and hit me in the face again. I was dumb founded. What happened to my perfect angel? It was not only embarassing but it hurt my feelings. I repeated what I did earlier in class by taking her outside and talking to her. I wish I could say this was a one time deal but she has continued to hit and slap ever since. Has any one else been through this? Any helpful hints? We don't use our hands to dicipline in our household so I am clueless on how she learned to deal with her anger by hitting. I am desperate to stop this behavior immediately!

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

Read the book Making the Terrible Twos Terrific. John Rosemond says the terribles start around 18 months.

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E.F.

answers from Louisville on

This is normal. My kids did it too. The terrible two's begin in the second year so you're already dealing with it. The main struggle at this age is to learn to recognize and control strong emotions. Father's are very good at this so please enlist a lot of help from him.

Some of the things that worked for us are reducing the amount of attention the kids gets after hitting. For example: the kids hit and you immediately sit them in a timeout chair (playpen)with no communication or toys. Set the timer for 2 minutes and afterwards have a short discussion about hitting followed by a hug. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Also, if you see her getting angry and think she might hit then help her acknowledge her feelings and teacher her how to calm down. Say, "I see that you're mad, tell me how you feel, let's sing a song/count to 10/take a deep breath/go outside or whatever works".

Also, demonstrate these techniques on your own feelings in front of her. Don't always stay completely calm, show her you can get mad at life's injustices and calm down too.

You will have to do this often and for many months ahead but it will eventually sink in.

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L.H.

answers from Charlotte on

I have a 20 month old grand daughter who I keep at my house during the day while my daughter teaches school. We have not experienced any hitting at all. While all children are different I believe she must have seen other children hitting perhaps at day care or at some time when you're not around. It sounds like your going back to work has been a big change for her. I think the way you handled it was perfect, you'll just have to continue to respond that way every time.

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D.J.

answers from Greensboro on

I think this happens a lot at this age. I have 3 boys, 5, 2, and 5 mos. When my oldest two went through similar stages, I would grab and squeeze their hand (the one that they just hit with, not a hard mean squeeze, just a "get-their-attention" type of squeeze) and I would say, "hitting is NOT OK, it hurts my skin and my feelings." Even though 20 months isn't old enough to fully understand that sentence, it does work. They can feel the squeeze (which helps them really remember why they are in trouble) and they can associate that with your firm voice and they figure it out quickly A. that it's not OK to hit and B. mom is in charge, not me :) I try to stay away from the firm "NO," because it desensitizes them to the word and quite frankly, reminds me of how I would speak to a dog, not a thinking, feeling child. my boys have always done well with "that's not OK" and I've never once called them or anything they've ever done "bad." stick with it, every child is different, what works for some may not for others, most people say you have to stick with one method for a month to really see if it works, so just try to be consistent with whatever you chose. good luck!

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D.B.

answers from Charlotte on

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L.J.

answers from Lexington on

You're doing a good job, but I would change one thing. Instead of staying calm and using a soft voice, I would sharply say, "No!" At her age she probably doesn't really understand about how we don't hit other people, though it is good to constantly remind her, but she definitely understands No.

I've nearly raised six boys (my youngest is 14, so we're getting there). All kids try something--hitting, talking back, etc. Be firm. Let her know your limits. And use a sharp voice when (and only when) the situation dictates.

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C.R.

answers from Knoxville on

When young children are unhappy it plays out through hitting. Keep up with the discipline the way you have. Young children do not have the capacity to remember everything yet. Consistentcy will help her to learn that hitting is not an acceptable behavior.

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L.H.

answers from Louisville on

that baby is just too young for such a stressful situation. why gymnastics (or any other class) at such a young age?

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B.W.

answers from Jacksonville on

V.,
My son is about the same age and has started this also. So far, only towards me. I think this is something a lot of kids do.
When he does do it, I sharply tell him NO in the sternest voice I can. I also make him look me in the eye as I tell him that "we don't hit" because he looks away when he knows he has done something wrong.
I don't have them, but I have seen some books on the subject that are for kids if you want to check them out. There is a series out there that includes "Hands are not for hitting", "Feet are not for kicking" and "Teeth are not for biting."
Good Luck,
B

R.V.

answers from Jacksonville on

My daughter, now 3 1/2 years old, went through the same "phase." She's learning to assert her independence and express her emotions. It sounds like you are already doing the right thing and handling it appropriately. Just be consistent and eventually it will sink in for her. You're doing a GREAT job Mom!

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E.M.

answers from Raleigh on

I don't believe in hitting or spanking. I also don't think that "time outs" work at this age. I don't think they work until 2 1/2 -3 yrs of age when they can really understand the concept. If you are to consider spanking her how does that differ from her hitting you. No hitting means no hitting. I don't think she learned to deal with anger by hitting. Its a natural response to not getting what you want. The issue is to teach her quickly that it is not acceptable behavior. Some possible ideas to break her negative cycle are: tell her if she hits you it will be time to leave class, try to get her out of your arms as often as possbile so she cant hit use a stroller or make her walk etc. and of course praise her for good behavior.

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P.G.

answers from Raleigh on

HI V.
I understand what you're feeling. My 2 year old son started hitting a few months ago. This occurs when he gets frustrated or mad. It happens at daycare and at home. At daycare, it seems to work when the teachers tell him he has "rude hands" and then they say "let's see gentle hands". Then he goes to find a stuffed animal to "pet" it and say "gentle hands". Whatever you choose to use for discipline (and I don't mean spanking or physical discipline) make sure it's consistent. It won't change overnight. Your daughter probably saw another child hit or bite someone or did this to her maybe when you weren't around or weren't aware. This doesn't mean that she learned this at home. We still don't know where my son learned his behavior from, but we don't do this at home. I suspect he learned this from daycare. Good luck with this.

P.

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J.A.

answers from Knoxville on

my kids went thru a screeming kicking stege but not hitting but of coursr spanking and hittng them back is out of the question but if you hold the childs hands and tell then that it is not nice to hit every time eventualy the child will gat the picture and stop its like training a puppy not to pee on the floor. it takes time and patiants

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J.W.

answers from Lexington on

The absolute first (and only) time my toddler was aggressive towards me (it was verbally), I deepened my voice and puffed myself up like an ogre, and said in a low, deep, no nonsense voice, slowly, and emphasizing some words, "Don't you EVER say something like THAT to me AGAIN. EVER!" And... wow... she looked up at me with eyes as big as saucers.... and ... she really didn't dare do that again. And, I never hit her, so it was not fear of corporal punishment. But she heard in my voice that I really meant it... it shocked her because she'd never heard me talk like that before. I must say, though, that she was a very (extremely) gentle toddler/child.

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