How Do I Get My 18 Month Old to Stop Hitting??!!

Updated on May 26, 2008
S.W. asks from Enid, OK
8 answers

My 18 month old loves to hit! He's a buff little guy and packs a powerful punch or slap! He doesn't respond to "Stop! or NO!", I've tried the whole 'hit 'em back' but feel really bad when I do that and time out is a joke... Any suggestions? I want to find a children's day out program for him this summer but if he's hitting still, I can't!

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So What Happened?

Well, he's still hitting... We are trying the time out in our laps. Thanks for your suggestions and support. We'll keep on working on it!

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answers from Fayetteville on

mine does this too, but she is 15 months. Seems too early for her to understand much about discipline, so I just get up and walk away. I don't just sit there and be her punching bag, hopefully soon she will get the idea that I don't like it and I won't play when she hits. It upsets her, but I think that it helps to get the point across.

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answers from Birmingham on

He is just 18 months old. They don't understand how hitting hurts you. Time outs do not work at this age, they are for much older kids. Hitting back only works for the moment, but condones the hitting behavior in the long run.

So next time when he hits you, you should instantly walk away from him, saying something to the effect: "What you have just done has hurt me, and so mama cannot have any more fun with you. I cannot play with you or talk to you. I still love you, but we cannot have fun together when you hit me."

The idea is to take away from him, what he values the most: your attention.

I am sure he will follow you or will beg you not to go away. Then you just need to sit in the same room, but physically disconnected from him and talk to him in a serious and sad tone that if he hurts anyone, nobody will want to have fun with him, because hitting and hurting others is bad behaviour.

Do mention to him that he is a good boy, but with some bad behavior ..... that you can help him wash away the bad behavior from him hands (the ones that hit & slap) ..... go ahead and wash his hands with soap. While washing, talk to him about sending the bad behavior down the drain!

If you are consistent with this strategy, it should take about 2 weeks to dramatically reduce his unwanted behavior. When he doesn't hit (where he normally would have), do remember to praise him verbally.

Also, if your boy hits some other child, instantly apologise to the other child, without making any eye contact with your son. Do not talk to your son at all, for a few minutes, instead, spend time sympathizing with the hurt child and asking if he/she was hurt and then as soon as you can, start playing with the hurt child. The idea here is again, to give no attention to your child (positive or negative). When he tugs at you, tell him: 'hitting is no fun' and repeat what I wrote earlier.

Good Luck.



answers from Little Rock on

Hey girl,

This is a tough problem. I think at 18 months they are smart kids, however need immediate consequences. Hitting back sounds like a good method, but in reality, he may think it's a fun game, or decide that hitting is OK because Mama is doing it with me. Time out may work if you use it with the walking away suggestion. If he is still in a crib, immediately pick him up remove him to the empty crib for time out. The only thing you need to say is No hitting and the length of the time out. If that doesn't work. I don't know how you feel about spanking, but that would be my next step. I do not mean hitting. Tell him you can not allow him to hit, then give him 2 swats with a paint stirrer or ruler. My suggestion is not to use your hand like he did when hitting you. I'm guessing he is still wearing a diaper, so he'll pretty padded.

When the discipline is over (whatever you choose) tell him you love him, and be sure to have him apologize. My little boy isn't talking much yet, but he will give a kiss when told to say "I'm sorry". No matter what discipline you decide to use, I would require a verbal apologize. I'm sure you know how hard it is to apologize.

Sounds like your a good mama. Join a summer play group. He will learn quickly. If he hits during the group (even if you get it under control at home he may have a relapse), have a plan of action. You can't walk away if he hits someone else. Time out strapped in his car seat might be an option. With you in the car or just out side. Again, not talking except to explain what he has done and how long the time out will last.

Hope you find some good ideas. Kids can be tough, but there worth every minute you put into training them.




answers from Biloxi on

If he hits again, I would take away a favorite toy and let him know if he does not hit for 3-4 days he can get it back. Then if he hits again follow thru again, he will stop, I have to use this on my daughter and it works. good luck



answers from Birmingham on

At 18 months, this is a natural reflex to being upset. Every animal, human, even insect, has the instinct to be aggressive when upset. The problem is that he doesn't understand why he does it, so punishing him really isn't going to be very effective. Think of it more as guiding him than disciplining him. When he hits you, hold both of his hands firmly and look him in the eye and say, I know you are mad right now. Can you say, "I'm mad!" ? Can you say, "I want to play with that toy"? If he is hitting another child, remove him from the environment immediately so that he doesn't get the satisfaction of the other child's reaction. It doesn't really matter if he tries to repeat what you are saying. What you are doing is teaching him to communicate. This isn't an anger issue. This is a communication problem. Sooner or later, he will begin substituting words for actions, even if it begins with just the simple statement of "MAD!". The most important thing is to not get angry OR sympathetic. Just talk to him like you would normally. Kids continue to hit because it causes a reaction. Often, when they hit other kids, the other child will drop the toy and walk away to seek attention. So he gets what he wants, the toy. Remarkably, if he learns to ask the other child nicely, the other child will usually give him the toy as well. Then the grown-up has the opportunity to introduce sharing.



answers from Oklahoma City on

do the do hit love and it will work i watch a 15 month old who is the size of an average 3 year old and she hits at times i say no hitting we love with our hands and she will give you a kiss and when she has already hit i make her say sorry and give a hug and kiss to whom ever she hit she does it and goes to play



answers from Enid on

I'm no expert seeing as how my little one is 15 months and is still hitting. Here are some ideas that people have given me and I feel like some are working and we are making headway. Don't hit him at all! That is just confusing for him. I've been told by a professional that most hitting at this age is out of frustration when toddlers can't communicate or because they don't understand why we won't give them exactly what they want. Its not actually because they understand that they are hurting you. Try saying "no hitting" and then show him how to be gentle by using his hand to rub you gently. Give him a pillow when he hits and say if you want to hit, hit this (or bite this). If saying no hitting or be gentle isn't working that day, I use the crib for timeout. Its very clear that its not naptime- I have all the lights on and leave the door open. My son knows the difference between timeout and naptime in the crib. He can't go anywhere. They say 1 minute per year of age so he isn't in there long. I bet most Mom's Day Out programs understand that hitting is fairly normal at this age and will be willing to work with you if he is hitting. Good luck!



answers from Fayetteville on

Read Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Baily (Bailey?). It is brilliant.

Have fun with your little boy!