How Do I Stop My 15 Month Old from Hitting

Updated on February 28, 2008
C.B. asks from Portland, OR
8 answers

My 15 month old little girl is hitting, biting, and pulling hair. She will get mad if her sister is not playing with her or won't give her the toy she wants and will grab a toy and hit her sister or go up and pull her hair or even bite. I grab her hand and tell her no hit and then she hits me. I don't know how to handle this because my older daughter never did this. any advice would be a great help!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your great advise! I have been trying different things and we are see her not hit or bit as much!

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answers from Medford on

Tell her not to hit, but also tell her to be soft, and demonstrate soft touch. Redirection is very important. Kids that little need to know what to do instead. Always redirect. Also, I have first hand experience with a sugar allergy causing aggression. If she is eating or drinking any sugar, eliminate it. You will probably see results within a couple of weeks.

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answers from Portland on

My 19 month old just started doing this... I guess, I was spared a few months of it - thank God.

Since, my sweet Lilly June is just perfect and there is no excuse (like medical issues) that would cause me to go through bleeding heart compassion and understanding over her fits of rage, and coddle her, I am just enjoying treating her like I would any other toddler that performs such a display of twisted beauty.

She looks me in the eye as she strikes. I usually grab her arm mid swing. It's important to catch them "in the moment" and besides we have to stop them from hurting someone (even though it doesn't really hurt when they hit us). I maintain the eye contact when I stop her in the moment. I usually furrow my brow to make a cross and disapproving facial expression. And I say, "Angry, you are angry. No hitting (or whatever)", then I turn her body away from me and place her on the ground face down on all fours. I do it gently but in a firm, sturn, way. Then, I either walk away or resume what I was doing. She twists, turns, arches her back, whines, cries, hits the carpet some more, blows bubbles from her lips (spitting), and then sometimes stands up to come at me again. I just do the same swift, quick disapproval, and I give her the social punishment of turning her away from me to tantrum.

If you are not in a place where the break dancing on the floor is appropriate, you can just close your eyes instantly and turn your face away from her as you hold onto her arms (only to hold them back from swinging again and again). The social punishment of cutting off eye contact is usually the most heart breaking to them at this age. Because they are dependent upon checking in with Mommy's eyes to see if we are paying attention, happy, approachable, relaxed, scared for them, etc. They might not talk much at this age, but in their quietness, they have observed us in their gaze since the day they were born. Our eyes are like a wellness temperature gage to them.

Try this and see if it works.

And one tip to the moms who have toddlers that bug them frequently, keep aware of your facial expression as your annoying, interrupting, "up in your face" all the time, toddler (pre-schooler) approaches you. Although you just might want them to leave you alone for just one second to complete a thought of your own, just take a moment. Before you look at them with eyes bugging out like as if you are a crazy lady. Or before you look at them with furrowed brow and an expression that clearly says, "what the blankity blank do you want now". Or before you roll your eyes. Just take a moment to close them for a second of regrouping, take a deep breathe, relax your facial expression - I even purposely raise my eyebrows a little and smile just to put on an attitude of approachability and patients. I look them in the eyes with kindness and love the majority of the time, even when I'm feeling extremely angry and irritated inside. And most often I come down to their level. I spend so much time on my knees.

That's one way to show them how to manage anger. Anger is the result of feeling violated, frustrated, or unable to communicate an unmet need. Aside from the times that we are imperfect humans also, we can show them this kind of anger management of "an attitude adjustment". And that is just what the change in facial expression does. They wont understand as toddlers, but you will see it when they are teenagers. When my teenage daughter is really irritated with me, she will put on her happy face (although her teethe look like they could crack under the pressure of the clench) and in a sqwealy voice, she'll quietly scream "whatever you say -mom-". Hey, she's trying to be half way pleasent. And I think she knows that our family (in general) doesn't operate in a way where we go all about exploding our anger on each other. Her biting the tongue, clenched teethe, smile technique sends the message to me really clear that she disagrees with me, but she's showing restraint. Kind of funny actually. And boy oh boy was she a big tantrumer of the overt kind and the sneaky kind. She was a genious at destroying her room -on purpose.

Don't you just kind of smile inside when they flip around like some big strong brute swinging all over the place at this age. I still feel the same way when my teenager does her little smiley fits. I think it's kind of cute.

It really is hard for me to not feed into Lilly's tantruming. I really would love to stand back and watch her bust a move. Maybe, even add in, "Wow, that was a good flip over, hand slapping, flopperoony. Look at you go girl." Of all the things, this is hard for me to restrain. I just have to walk away or I end up enjoying it too much.

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answers from Portland on

To start off you need iron will and more patience than you Think you could ever have with 3 people. You can do it even though it sounds tough. Try this any time she has a fit. Wrap her in your arms so that you are fully restraining her. She will struggle and get even more mad for a time but she will calm down. When she calms down talk to her and let her know that this is not ok behavior. When the calm starts don't let go right away, be sure to have cuddle time after the lecture and tell her you love her very much and want to make her happy. By restraining her you are giving her attention that she needs but doesn't know about, you are stopping the bad behavior, and by using this method you are not sending her away or giving her the message that you want her away from anyone. She is acting out for whatever reason and needs the control that she can't find on her own. Best of patience to you Brnady

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answers from Honolulu on

My daughter is 15months old as well, and has started hitting and biting. She only hits hen she is mad at us for not letting her get her way. The biting she thinks is funny and starts laughing. So far we have started telling her no as she does it so she understands what is making us respond to her in syuch a way. It's been working so far. As for the biting..I tap her lips when she does it and say no that hurts mommy. So far she still thinks it's a game. Maybe next week it will be different. Just remember to stick with what you choose as your method and keep on the same page with anyone else who is allowed to help discipline. Patience I geuss is the most important thing for us all at this point because they are still really young and wont understnad as well as say a 3 year old. repetition and the same method will eventually sink in. Good luck to you and wish me some luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Hello C., first every child will be different and different things work for different children. i personally diagree with teaching her to hit pillows ect. if she is to young to understand the hitting part how is she suppose to understand that its okay to hit a pillow or ect.instead. what worked for my children was a firm No and told we dont hit that hurts, then she was removed from the scene. to another room or her room then when they would come back in i would tell her that was not nice and you hurt sissy,then i would have her give sissy a hug for way of saying sorry.stay consistent with what you want the punishment to be. now that my girls are older now they get a time out for 1 min per age then they have to apoligies and give a hug. and thats what really worked for my just have to find what works for your child not everyones way might not work for your child. good luck i know its tough.

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answers from Spokane on

Uh, ok, well, let me explain something before i give a "tip" At 15 months your child has three types of emotions she can "relate" to. Sad, happy and mad. She cant express her other types of emotions right now, nor does she understand them, so she is limited to those three. When she gets upset it is because its all she knows to express her dislike for something.

Now, what is recommended you do is not reinforce her anger. Holding her hand, telling her no does nothing to help the situation but confuse her. So, take the older child away for a second, look at the younger one and say "WOW, you are ANGRY!!!" This teaches her about her emotion, gives it a name, so later on, in a few weeks or so, when you say "angry" she knows what the heck you are talkin about. Then tell her "hitting is not ok, bitting is not ok, if you are angry, you need to show your anger in a good way" Then, take her to a pillow, a drum set or something, and show her positve ways to reinforce her behavior like beating the pillow or drums. Always stick to the same type of anger management though, dont switch it around so this way she knows what is ok and what is NOT. By no means repress the anger, it only makes things worse. Just try to keep in mind, she is a child, she cant comprehend things the way adults can and she is not intentionaly hurting anyone. She does not understand cause and effect just yet. I know at times it is hard!! But trust me, it will work out!! Good luck!!



answers from Portland on

I also had and am still dealing with this stage with my Lily. The best things that worked were not one thing in particular. When she was younger and didn't know the difference, telling her no and showing how to be gentle worked best. Now that she's older I deal with it on a case by case basis. if I notice that she's hitting and pulling hair and just generally being "naughty" I've found that it's usually overstimulation and that the "holding time-out" works best. I also try to get her to communicate what she wants (with signing, pointing or using words). Most of all just be sure to be consistant on letting her know that hitting is not ok and she will eventually grow out of it.



answers from Medford on

My son is 14 months and has started hitting me when he doesn't get his way. My response is to grab his hand and tell him "no hit" and/or put him down and walk away. If your daughter is hitting, biting , etc. my advice is to tell her "No ____!" and remove her from the situation. Removing her from you and her sister teaches her that her actions will not get her what she wants and she will not like being left alone/out. I hope this helps. Good luck.

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