Help! My Son Is Hitting :(

Updated on May 06, 2007
E.S. asks from Redford, MI
10 answers

My 18 month old son has until now been "our angel", and a very well behaved child. About 2 weeks ago, he has started hitting, and throwing these horriable temper tantrums! We don't know where this is coming from... he only watches PBS, and Disney, and is not in childcare.

Because of this, I don't want to go to playdates, or have family watch him because of this behavior. The ones that surround him, however discipline him as we would.

We have tried more natural consequences... holding his hands, time-outs, talking firmly, and nothing seems to be working! We don't believe in spanking, however we are at our whits end!! Today I was in tears at the store, having to leave because of a screaming fit!

Any help would be WONDERFUL!!!

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So What Happened?

Well, in all honesty we are still having some issues, however we are standing firm as a family with his consequences (extended family as well). He is not vocal yet, and I have been noticing that he hits when he gets frustrated. We are hoping that this "phase" ends soon, however as he is realizing that he will not get away with his behavior, he is doing it less often. :) Thank you for all the advice! We are trying almost everything! :)

Featured Answers



answers from Jackson on

Hi E., I am going through this same thing right now with my grandson. I forgot how much fun the terrible twos were. I now believe the terrible twos are here to help you deal with teenagers. My grandson is just over two, speech delayed and a pistol. I felt at first, I'm the grandma, I'm not going to be the one disaplining him, well, thats changed let me tell you. We are into the whole timeout thing. And he screams the whole time he's in time out too. But as soon as I ask him if he's ready to be human, he smiles and gets down, and I give him a hug and tell him what I didn't like about his behavior. I'm half tempted not taking him to a few places, like the zoo, until I feel I have a better grip on him. With my kids, spanking was the thing to do, I'm not convinced that was wrong. I haven't gotten to that point yet, and before I do, I'll discuss it with his mother. My kids were not hitters, or biters. Spanking is different than hitting, its an attention getter. Kids years ago were better behaved than kids now adays. I deal with them all the time, it's amazing to me how many kids run the show now. Parents letting them decide the rules, I just don't get it. Good luck, stay firm and consistant is the main thing, you are winning believe it or not. And don't let up as time goes on, if you can't control them when they are this age, you never will when they get older:)Sue

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answers from Detroit on

Sounds like you're entering the terrible 2's. Good luck. You're doing all the right things. iIt's just something little ones go through.



answers from Detroit on

I have a daughter who did the same thing and sometimes still does. She is now 3 and she still throws the temper tantrums and I still get embarrased in stores sometimes. Her doctor just says it's terrible two's and that people aren't looking at you like you are mean, they are saying I remember being there too. It is hard to believe that. She was in daycare until she was almost 2, now I am a stay at home mom. I wish I could help with better advice, but it's hard and nothing I have tried works either. If you find anything that works, let me know too. As I have a 1 year old also and if she takes after her sister, we'll be in trouble.
Have a good day



answers from Detroit on

Welcome to the terrible twos! the most important thing is to be consistent. Ignore temper tantrums but firmly punish the violent behavior like hitting. He is testing the limits and your job is to firmly establish them. Good luck and hang in there. the twos don't last forever!



answers from Kalamazoo on

We too have been experiencing the same things with our son. I agree that spanking is not the best way to handle it. I recommend a book that we have used called 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan, Ph.D. The discipline techniques used in this book have worked wonders with my son's temper tantrums and hitting. Basically what you do is when he begins hitting or throwing a tantrum you give him 3 chances to stop his behavior and if he doesn't he would receive a time-out. We have been doing this for about 4 months now and have gone from 4 or 5 time outs a day to maybe 1 or none. You can use this technique even as they get older too. It really is a great book but you have to follow the technique exactly and it works best if all of the child's caregivers follow it. Good luck!



answers from Tampa on

HI E., My son is almost through this stage and it has been a challenge. I agree mostly with Erin's advice about the choices. That does help. And, just be firm; get down to eye level and express your disapproval. He will understand just a look on your face even. I also always make my kids apologize. Don't stay away from playdates. Most parents will know what you are going through, applaud your efforts, and give you pointers if you ask.
Best of luck! You'll do great.



answers from Detroit on

Does your son talk? It sounds like he is having a hard time expressing himself and it getting frustrated. Plus, it is NORMAL to start the "terrible twos" when they are around his age. My son did the same thing, and it turns out he was language delayed and needed speech therapy. At this age we used a picture system for him to tell us what he wanted. I took digital pictures of things like his cup/juice, bottle, snacks and play things and put magnets on them and put them on the fridge. Then he got to grab the one that he wanted, but this took a couple weeks of practice.
Don't worry, it will get better! Google search "temper tantrums" and "toddlers" and you will get a ton of great articles about WHY they go through this phase. If you have any questions or concerns about language development, please feel free to email me privitly. My son is now almost 5 and completely caught up...YEAH!
Good luck,



answers from Detroit on

Hi, E.. This is called the "terrible twos". The same thing happened to me with my daughter. When he throws a temper tantrum, get up and walk away; he can't hit you if you're not right next to him. LEARN TO IGNORE HIS TANTRUMS. It's age-old advice, but IT WORKS. Your son wants to get his way, and is prepared to make his mind known. Actually, according to my mom, who watches my daughter 2 days a week, my little one behaves much better when she's not around me. Also, I read that one way to deal with the "terrible twos" is to give your child the ability to make some of his own choices (Do you want to wear the blue shoes or your sandals today? Do you want to eat oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast?) According to the author of the article, giving your little one these choices helps him feel more in control of his situation, and he's acting out b/c he's testing his boundaries. GOOD LUCK, AND THIS TOO SHALL PASS!



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi E.
Your sons behavior at this age is not uncommon. In fact, most mothers of 2 year olds have had to deal with temper tantrums at one time or another. Tantrums and hitting are nothing new. My now 2 1/2 year old had her first tantrum at 14 months. My doctor laughed and told me I had an early bloomer. Yippee for me!! You will get thru it. :) I know the feeling of dread that comes over you when you see a tantrum coming on in a public place. Soon you will notice a pattern of what may trigger a melt down. The best thing that you can do is stay calm yourself. Remove your son from public view. Find a restroom , fast. Let him gain control of himself in privacy. Only hold him to protect him. Ex. if he is thrashing around and could hurt himself. Let him know that you will continue on when he is calm.
Praise him for good behavior on shopping trips and ect.. that he is well behaved. Lots of praise!!!
2 year olds have short attention spans, I would recommend bringing a few goodies to entertain him with. Small stuffed animal, book, car, raisens, sippy cup, crackers. Healthy snacks to help keep him calm and not revved up. Sugar free juice or milk. or water.
I wouldnt alienate him from family or playdates because of this behavior. He needs to be around the people that love him, and around other children so that he can learn good behavior verses bad behavior. Children learn easily be example.
Explain to the other mothers what you are going thru with your son, (they may share some words of wisdom with you) and be present when he is playing with other children, so that when he hits another child, you can immediately explain to him what he did wronge and remove him from the area. Let him know that he can return to play when he is ready to play nicely. Of course this may trigger a tantrum. Just remove him from the room.
You are doing the right thing by not reverting to spanking, in my opinion. I think spanking a hitter only reinforces the behavior that your trying to eliminate. What I mean is; for example a mom spanks her child for doing something that she doesnt like, there for the child learns to hit a friend when a friend does something that the child doesnt like. Does this make sense? I feel like i am rambling. Anyways, my 2 year old is a hitter. She bullies her 6 year old sister, and pushes her around. My 6 year old is very mild mannered and this breaks her heart and would never lift a finger towards her sister in return. I have done the above and also placed my 2 year old on a naughty spot for a time out. The key is to be very consistant, and the 2 year old has to tell the 6 year old that she is sorry with a hug in order to get off the naughty spot after 2 minutes.
The best of luck with your situation. I hope I was of some help. Heidi



answers from Detroit on

Hello E.,

I am sorry this issue has brought you to tears. What your child is going through it the 2 yr old stage and trying to see how far he can take things. Is he verbal? Are the fits usually when he wants something and you say no? Our kids go through stages every year they are developing and coming into themselves. If he is not talking much allot of this may be due to he doesn't know how to tell you and is becoming frustrated. The hitting can be a part of all of this to. He doesn't have the verbal cue to make someone aware of his needs or wants. I am a childcare provider and have found that using sign language with Children really reduces the hitting ,biting etc.

Time outs will not work if he is not able to communicate with you he will just not understand that. I would tell him "no hititng , hitting hurts" Then show him a sad face. I also say "play nice" or gentle and do the sign to gentle. If you want to talk more please contact me at

I hope you have a good day..


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