Disipline for a 13 Month Old Who Is Hitting??

Updated on May 26, 2010
K.S. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
18 answers

My 13 month old son has decided to start hitting. Last night, I picked him up b/c he started to walk up the street away from me - got a little too far away from me. Once I picked him up, he screamed and hit me in the face. I grabbed his hand and looked at him sternly and said “NO!”. When I let his hand go, he hit me again! I took him right inside after the second time. I am scared to death to have a brat for a child and I was totally embarrassed that he did this in front of the group of neighbors. Am I doing the right thing? Is there any other form of discipline that would even work for a one year old?

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answers from Portland on

Its a phase and most babies go through it. He's not doing it to be mean, he's doing it because it brings a reaction to you.
DON'T hit him like the last mom said!!! That will only show him its OK to hit because mom does it too.
Good luck, and remember: as embarrassing as it is, its a NORMAL little person thing to do at this age. Give him time :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Just continue what you're doing. It's totally normal, and keep in mind that any "discipline" at 13 mos goes pretty much unregistered. It will be that way for awhile. All you can do is consistently send the same message, and eventually she will understand.
My son is 2 and we're finally getting to the point where we can do a bit of a time-out. But up until now, all you can do is remove them from the situation and be firm.
Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

You handled it perfectly. At 13 months old I would not suggest any other type of "punishment". They are learning, experimenting and discovering what they can do. At this age a stern voice usually works great. If it doesn't, removing them from the situation is the next step. I wouldn't worry about what other parents think since everyone raises their children differently.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I hate to say this.. but you should try hitting his hand back like he hit you.. he will get the idea that it hurts... just hit his hand.. but hit it so he can feel it a little. I was a biter as a baby and it continued until i was about 4.. and one day i bit a neighbor really hard cause i got mad... well guess what.. my mom took my hand.. and bit down.. just so i could feel it.. I never bit again... it sounds mean.. but she didn't bite me really really hard.. just enough to get the message across... and it worked... my kids used to hit like your lil one does they need to know it hurts and it's not nice.. I would hit their hand back lightly first.. and then if they continued to hit.. i would do it a little stronger.. and they would stop.. i would also say NO when i would do this. My kids are 11 and 14 and I never really had to hit them or anything like that... Just talked to them or hit their hand lightly and it worked.. good luck

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answers from New York on

You did the right thing! My two-year-old had started doing this and we responded the same way- a firm "No hitting" while holding his arm at his side. If he does it again, two minute time-out. It has worked and he rarely hits anymore!

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answers from San Francisco on

Don't worry about this. That is normal at this age. He won't be a brat. Just say "no" and redirect him. Do NOT worry about what the neighbors think. Anyone who thinks there is something wrong with you or your child for completely normal 13 month old behavior isn't worth caring about.

It's good for a child to have some spunk.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

My son did the same thing around that age. It was not my favorite phase, but it was just a phase, he will grow out of it.
When my little guy hit me I would say "ouch, that hurt Mama!" and then I would set him down and walk away for a moment or two. He learned pretty quickly that if he wanted mom around he was going to have to stop smacking her.
Good luck and hang in there!

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answers from St. Louis on

If/when he hits you, say 'no' firmly and put him down (if you are holding him). After he cries for a minute or two or stops, pick him back up and say "Hands are for hugging and helping, not hitting." Repeat this througout the day when he's helping clean up his toys. Praise him when he's not hitting "I like the way you are playing nicely with your hands!" You can also hold his hand and pat your face gently and say "Gentle!" Modeling the appropriate behavior will take time to work but doing that combined with telling him no, removing him from the thing or person he hit, etc, it will eventually sink in! My daughter still ocassionally hits me when she gets mad (she'll be 3 in Aug) and I set her down or in time out and tell her that we do not hit. Then I ask why she is in time out or why she got in trouble and she always says it's because she hit. Then I ask what she should do about it and she knows to say sorry. Usually if I act sad or upset that she hit me, she'll run over and give me a kiss and say sorry before I even ask her!



answers from Philadelphia on

I just went through that with my son. He is now almost 19 mths old and it started when he was about 15 mths. The good news is that it only lasted for about 6 weeks. The bad news it that no matter how I handled it, it didn't correct his behavior. I tried time out, taking away a toy, smacking the back of his hand, ignoring him completely, whatever I could think of. He did get bored of it when I stopped reacting. I hope that this is just a phase for your son as well.
Good luck.



answers from Roanoke on

This is totally normal for a little boy your age. He won't do be like this forever! Is he talking yet? Children often hit,bite etc. when they are frustrated and can't get their words out. I am firmly against the eye for an eye method. If you hit him back this will only teach him to hit. Spanking often makes young children aggressive and he is too young anyway. Because he is so young you just have to be very patient with him. Keep firmly telling him no and redirect him. You did the right thing by taking him inside. You might try time out for 1 minute but, he is probably too young for that. Hang in there and just keep on loving him!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Totally normal. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but why would you call a 13 month old a brat? He's just a baby. It would be abnormal if he didn't hit. He doesn't have another way to communicate. Maybe you need to read a couple books on what is normal behavior for a 1 year old? No one will judge you for a 13 month old that hits.

When he hits, just get his attention and say, "Use gentle touches" or "We don't hit, we use gentle touches" or something like this. He's too young even for time outs. He will grow out if it, but you need to be prepared for the fact that he will behave badly-- A LOT-- over the next several years.



answers from Philadelphia on

I think you are doing the right thing. If you discipline your child he shouldn't grow up to be a brat. I wouldn't be embarrassed, now if you were talking about a 3 or 4 year old that hit you in the face that is another story because by then they should know that isn't acceptable.



answers from Dallas on

Always give him praise especially when he's not hitting. Sometimes we wait for our child to do something extraordinary to praise them, but we really need to praise them at all times even when there just doing normal everyday things. So in your case make sure to look at your child eye to eye and tell him firmly NO but without raising your voice but in a firm tone. Make sure within that small amount of time frame to praise him when he is behaving well. Children tend to forget right away what they had done wrong so its important to take action within that small amount of time. I like how one of the ladies mentioned to tell your child that hands are for hugging and helping. That is perfect because you are telling him how to use his hands. Always praise praise praise. Children love it and will tend to follow and listen when you are positive. It may seem difficult at first but trust me it works. Let me give you an example about what happened to me......my 23 month old son has a hard time sharing his toys. When kids would come over he would take his toys away from them which would cause the kids to cry. The way I would approach it is I would take the toy away from my son and give it back the kid. Then my son would be screaming. So I decided to approach it differently when this happened again I told my son that it would be nice to share our toys with our friends. Then I asked my son "Can you share your toy with your friend that would be nice of you to do that", then he gave the toy to his friend with no tears. I think because I asked him nicely to share his toy he did it. I praised him for that and I can see it in his little face that he was proud of himself. Instead of yanking the toy out of his hand and asking him nicely to share his toy really made a big difference. I never thought it would work but it did. Good Luck!



answers from Stationed Overseas on

I gave 1 minute time outs around that age. For me it was 1 minute in the crib with the door open and me at the door, out of sight, but still there. It's essentially 1 minute of screaming for the child followed by some calming down and more verbal reminders that hitting is not allowed.
Right now he's not doing it to be violent, he's doing it to get a reaction. As long as he gets a reaction he doesn't like, he shouldn't do it again. So if it were me, I wouldn't give a warning, I'd just pick him up and put him in his crib along with the stern "no" and telling him not to hit. For me a no warning time out is good for the "shock value" but normally I would use a three strikes you're out rule.
I used the crib because I co-slept, so it became more of a dust collector/laundry basket for me, but you could certainly use a play pen or any space where the child is contained but safe.



answers from Philadelphia on

I just want to say that all of these people telling you that your son is too young for time out are wrong. Aside from having three kids of my own, I am also in charge of the church nursery. I have had several parents thank me for starting time outs with their kids when they were hitting even at 13 months. They tried it at home after that and it worked way better than just telling them no. If they won't stay in a corner for a minute then give them the time out in a crib or pack n play. Put them in the corner or crib and say, "we do not hit" or something to that effect. Come back after a minute and talk to them about what they did wrong. They understand more than you think!


answers from Houston on

oh yeah, I totally remember that! Mine did it and I think most kids do. We started a time out system for that. Just sat him by the wall for like a minute or so every time he hit. Of course at first he would get right out but we would put him right back. We did it immediately after he would hit so he would get the idea and told him he was in time out for hitting. We were amazed but he got the point and stopped. In my opinion they are too young at that age for any spanking, maybe a light swat on the hand for pulling electrical cords to get their attention you know bc it is life threatening. I think what you did about getting right in his little face and saying NO was good too. Got his attention and you took him out of the enviornment. But don't be embarrassed. My first is about to be three, believe me, they will do many more things to in the future!!!LOL Everyone's kid acts like a brat at times, that is our job, to de-brat them;) We were really frustrated when my first was hitting too, but with consistent time outs of no more than 30sec to a minute, he stopped. Good luck!!



answers from Tulsa on

my son hits with everything. I just tell him to play nice and he comprehends this. I have been doing it since he was one. He likes to play swords and doesn't understand that some things hurt. Both of my kids did the hitting thing. my oldest did what yours did and my youngest hits with anything and everything. If I say play nice he will hit lightly. I figure its just a phase and he needs to know there is play hitting and mean hitting. He does understand the diffrence. some toys are ok to hit with styrofoam swords and others absolutely not. he knows which he can use and which he cant. at one if you raise your voice it breaks their heart. so I use that as a discipline. it works for me. this same theory works with throwing too.


answers from Columbia on

You are doing exactly the right thing. Don't be embarrassed. Every parent deals with this; they understand. If you did NOT deal with it, that would be a reason for embarrassment. ;o)

All you have to do is continue what you are doing. Be consistent. Each and every time he hits should illicit the same reaction: 1st hit, a firm and deep voiced "NO! NO! We do NOT hit!" while holding his wrists so he cannot hit you again. Be sure you are not holding him in your arms or he will not pay attention to your words, he'll be squirming to get away. Put him down to do this if you must. Crouch down to his level. If he hits again after that, immediately remove him from the situation. Restrain him during removal so he cannot hit or kick you. Let him yell and holler. Don't say a word. Take him in his room and put him in his crib or pack and play and leave. Wait a few minutes, or until he calms himself (whichever happens LAST). Resist the urge to lecture him when you take him out, because he won't understand. Hug him, cut him loose, and give him the chance to start again with a clean slate. Same response from the very beginning if he hits again.

If you consistently handle the situation in this way each time, you will find that he will relate his hitting to social isolation. He'll stop very quickly because he, like any 1 year old, hates to be removed from what interests him far more than he wants to hit you.

Good luck!


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