How to Get a 2 Year Old to Stop Hitting?

Updated on June 04, 2012
N.F. asks from Reno, NV
5 answers

My two and a half year old girl, who has always been impulsive, has gotten to a point of hitting or pushing or throwing things all day long! - I now don't know what to do. Timeouts and scolding don't work. Teaching "use your words" doesn't work. Trying to talk about it at bedtime doesn't work. Her behavior is not changing. Sometimes it's because she's frustrated, and others, b/c she wants attention (easy to get a rise out of big brother). But she's doing this with us, mom and dad, friends who come over, etc. I thought of taking away something that means a lot to her, but the only thing she holds dear is her blanket at night and I wonder if hours pass if she'll get the connection? Any advice you have is much appreciated. She's got to learn to curb this!

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answers from Kansas City on

she's only 2. if you're trying all these things, nothing is being done consistently. consistency is the only thing that will work. you time her out, EVERY time. a 2 year old doesn't understand taking things away from her. she's 2, it's time to start time outs. don't scold, don't do anything else. straight to time out. tell her why she's in time out, let her sit there for a minute or two (no longer), then go get her out of time out, and move on. next time she does it, do the exact same thing. she will learn that doing it multiple times no longer gets all these varied interesting responses from people - she just has to sit alone for a minute. no fun. it will stop.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I am having the same problem. Time outs don't work- he thinks they are hilarious. He only does it with me, no one else really (which makes me mad and hurts my feelings at the same time!) I like Jen's idea- I might try doing that. I have consistently done the time out thing and it is NOT working. Let me know what works for you so I can try it! =)



answers from Colorado Springs on

I suggest that you take her for a physical checkup. It's always a good idea to see if there's a problem you didn't know about.

You may have to take some time from your regular schedule (and I don't know what that is) to concentrate on this situation. Toddlers don't respond to deprivation as older children do; they don't necessarily connect it to behavior. Toddlers don't have right and wrong straightened out in their minds yet; they just have "I want" and "I don't want," and you know it changes by the minute! It's also not unusual for two-year-olds to have meltdowns about anything, everything, and nothing. It seems to be in the job description to have a certain number every day!

So you might need to say, "Today is the day we're going to stop hitting and pushing people." Every single time she does something unacceptable like that, she goes into the time out corner, with no lectures or extra attention from you - pick her up, set her down in the corner, that's that. After a minute, ask her if she can come out or if she needs to stay there longer. If she goes back to playing and acts up again, whether it's thirty minutes or two seconds later, do the very same thing.

You may certainly assume that you will not get anything else done during this time. And she'll test you to see if you really mean it, or if you'll give up, or if you'll cry or get mad. You may not want to have company over (although she'll test you later when they do). The family will be enough to start with.

You could even surreptitiously time the periods when she does *not* hit or push or throw, and be able to say, "You made it for forty seconds this time," or, "You made if for one minute and twelve seconds." The idea, I'm thinking, is that hopefully she might become interested in what is happening to her instead of her impulsive feelings (or the habits she has gotten into).

I can't guarantee that this will work. But it might. Be sure to handle her with calmness, and even with humor. She's not being taught because Mama is angry or upset. She's being taught because she is not treating people properly, and needs to learn how to do it.



answers from San Diego on

My 2 year old enjoyed hitting me and he though when I put him in time out it was funny. I read somewhere on this site that a mom said"we don't hit in this family we give hugs and kisses." I then would smother him in hugs and kisses. It distracted him from the fun of hitting mommy and the behavior stopped. I know that may not work on the playground or if he hits another kid. My SIL tell her kids after they hit "look u made x cry, don't u feel bad? I feel bad. Let's try and make x feel better". I really think 2 year old think it is funny to see u mad. So putting in TO or taking away toys doesn't always work. Especially for the strong willed ones.



answers from Honolulu on

She is 2.
They don't know how to communicate nor know the names for their feelings, nor do they have fully developed impulse-control yet. Nor do they have fully developed social skills. At this age, they are still doing "parallel play." They do not play or socialize interactively, like older kids.

Teach her how to communicate and the words for her feelings. I began to teach my kids that from 2 years old.
ie: "I am tired", "I am frustrated," "I am hungry", "stop...", "I am grumpy," "Help me..", etc.
Role play with her too.

Do not take away her Lovey. That is her special item.

Teach her how to cope with frustrations. Help her. Redirect her. Distract her.
Toddlers also get this way when tired or over tired or hungry. Have her nap.

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