How to Stop Child from Hitting Other Kids

Updated on July 03, 2009
A.O. asks from Edison, NJ
16 answers

How do I stop my 2 1/2 yeard old from hitting other kids? It's getting so frustating because i always tell him before hand "no hitting other kids" but, he still does... I feel very sorry with the other parents because I know nonone likes her or his kid to be hit, but i just don't know how to handle his behavior...

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answers from New York on

Warn him not to hit and when he does give him an immediate consequence. I'm guessing this happens at a play ground. Tell him if he hits he will have to sit next to you on a bench for 5 minutes. Then immediately grab him and walk him none to gently to the nearest bench and plop him down on it. Make him sit for 5 minutes not matter how much he screams or protests. Yes 5 minutes is a long time for a 2 y/o time out, but this is sitting next to you and watching other kids play nicely, not really a timeout. At the end of 5 minutes explain what he did and how you will not tolerate hitting. Tell him if he does it again he will have to sit again. After a few times of forced sitting he will stop. But you MUST be consistent and make him sit for 5 minutes.

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answers from New York on

Dear A.,

I actually disagree with a lot of the moms who have posted on this topic. Not because I'm categorically opposed to discipline, but because I believe strongly that young children can't just replace something with nothing.

Instead, I think it's really important to figure out WHY your son is hitting and then to help him find an ALTERNATIVE. A lot of young children hit out of a combination of overstimulation and anxiety. For example, it's possible that your son loves the park but at the same time finds it a little chaotic, with older children running all over the place, etc., and is a little overwhelmed. If you put yourself in that mindset, it probably makes sense to be big and strong and chaotic yourself, and for a toddler boy, that means hitting. BUT ... if you just tell your son "no," without any appreciation for his motivations, he'll probably feel frightened and defenseless, which, paradoxically, will make the urge to hit even stronger.

If you think your son does need to feel big and strong, you can provide him with ANOTHER way to be big and strong -- stomping on the ground, wearing a Superman cape, driving a big-wheel, whatever works for him. Once you do this, it should be much easier to get you son not to hit ("You're Superman; Superman never hits").

Of course, I'm just speculating about your son's motivations; you'll understand them better than anyone else. But I do feel strongly that good parenting means not just trying to control a child's behavior but understanding the motivations behind it.

Hope that helps,


1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi A.,
A lot of kids do that at his age, it doesn't mean you're a bad mom. Telling him beforehand doesn't help, a 2 1/2 year old is still very impulsive and has a short attention span. At the heat of the moment, when someone has a toy he wants or is on the slide ahead of him, he can't remember that. If/when he hits, I would remove him from the situation immediatly, isolate him for a few minutes and then make him go back and apologize.
Good luck



answers from New York on

When my son was little like your he used hit too. We all would talk to him. He was very heavy handed and would really hurt anyone he hit. He was the youngest of 6 at the time and no one would dare hit the baby.

He stopped hitting when my nine year old neice hit him back harder than he hit her.

Basically he could dish it out but couldn't take it.

If you could institute punishments that are really bad for him like making him sit in one spot for a period of time with nothing to do perhaps that would deter him from hitting. Also praise for not hitting, may work as well. Is there a specific reason for the hitting, like not getting his way, or the always great toy war?

Hopefully this information is helpful to you.



answers from Binghamton on

Remind him not to hit other kids only when it happens. When you tell him ahead of time your reminding him wow this is one thing I get a lot of attention he will keep doing. Tell him to have a good day at school or playdate and be a big boy, if he does have a good and does behave you can give him a gift or reward with a great big kiss and hug and show that being good is rewarding and great attention getter. Got to point out the good things as much as bad.



answers from New York on

How is his language development? If he's having a hard time expressing himself then he is more likely to lash-out physically when overwhelmed.

A couple of thoughts... keep a little journal to try and find out the source of the behavior. Keep the "ABC's" in mind Antecendent (what happened just before, who was involved, where was he), Behavior (hitting) and Consequence (what was the outcome). See if you can identify a specific pattern. Are there particular children? Specific settings?

You should also practice with him at home. Role play alternative responses. You could use puppets or the stuffed animals, but literally give him the words he needs to avoid hitting.

Talk with the pediatrician and see where your son's language is developmentally. You may want to consider a language evaluation if his expression is delayed. This could be a significant source of frustration for him!



answers from Albany on

We are starting to experience this with our two year old. So far, this is what we do: We squat down so that we are right at her level, looking right at her. We don't raise our voice, but say, "It is not okay to __" and try to connect what she just did to the child's sad/angry state. We tell her what she needs to do instead, like "nice touches" or play with something else. We try not to use any more words than necessary. We don't make a scene out of it. Since we do this at home as well as around other children, this is nothing new to her. We tell her she will not be receiving something extra that she usually receieves, like desert. She doesn't hit/push that often, if she did, then we would probably have to be less gentle in our consequence.



answers from New York on

You need to give him a consequence for his behavior. Tell him before hand "Hitting is wrong and I don't want you to hit your friends. If you hit your friends we will xxxxx" That way he knows there is a consequence for his actions and then of course you need to stick with it. My best friend had a problem with her son doing the same thing. His consequence was they would leave if he did it. It was hard for her because she wanted to be with her friends too and talk to us but it only took a few times and he understood. It is a phase some children go through. Just guide him in the right direction and be constant - that is the key. Good luck!



answers from New York on

Oh, Mama- I'm sorry. Nobody likes to be the one that brought the bully to the party! (I should know!)

Here's what we do:
When my daughter hits/steals toys/yells/ etc. at the other kids, I first remove her from the situation. I make her apologize. Then, I ignore her.

I turn to the kid she hit/stole from/yelled at and give them love and attention and hugs and apologies. My daughter gets to stand there are watch me lavish attention on someone else. If she fusses about it, she gets to be put in her room for a few minutes to cool down.

She's 2 1/2 and it's working...slowly. She doesn't hit every time, so this isn't something that happens too often...but she definitely bullies her younger friends, so we get plenty of practice.

Hope that helps!! Good luck. You're a good mom for recognizing that YOUR kid might be the one at fault! LOL



answers from New York on

Say firmly "Hitting is bad, no hitting"...aplogies to the child he has hit and remove your child from the situation with "time out." Sit him down next to you and let him watch the others play for a little while before letting him go back to that point, say firmly, "Play nice, No hitting." ((((If he cries or fusses, tell him he can't play until he calms down.))) When he hits again, repeat the Firm "hitting is bad, No hitting, again apoligies to the child he hit and again remove him from the situation, this time sit him by your side and don't allow him to return to play at all.
When he plays without hitting, Let him know he's a good boy because he played nicely.

Be consistent it will take a child his age time to understand what you expect of him.



answers from New York on

At 2 1/2 he isn't old enough to understand that he is really hurting someone else. He just knows he's frustrated. Try timeouts, carry a little timer with you if you must. Put him in a corner or on a chair, a spot on the floor, it doesn't matter as long as you're consistent and set the timer for 2 minutes. He will not like it! He will eventually get the idea that hitting equals time-out and time-outs equal I'm not playing.



answers from New York on

Hi A.,
It's been a few weeks since you posted this and I hope things have gotten better. When my daughter was about the same age, she too began hitting. We did lots of playdates and I was mortified. I didn't want her to be the kid that when other people heard we were coming that they didn't want to come b/c of her hitting. I tried to explain, rationalize and talk to her about no hitting but they don't really understand just talking at this age. So we got to an outdoor playdate and sure enough she hit a little boy younger than her. There were about 10 kids at the playdate ages 2-5. So I put her in a time out right in the middle of the backyard where everyone was playing. I explained why she was in a time out and told her if she did it again, we would leave. She cried and cried while in time out but she was so embarrassed though that she was perfect for the rest of the playdate. After that, I would remind her of that before each playdate. I told her if she hit we would immediately leave the playdate (and do, you really have to do it - no warning, leave the first time). If it happens at a playdate at your house, remove him and then put him in a time out in his room so he's removed from everyone. This worked really well for us and her hitting phase only last about a month or two. And that's the best thing of all - it's a phase, this too shall pass.
Good luck,



answers from New York on

A., I understand what your going through having helped other parents with this same problem before. What I am going to recommend is going to sound really easy; trust the process it works if you stick with it. The key is consistency. When you want to modify any unwanted behavior you anticipate when the behavior happens most. You know when that is. You tell the child before the situation comes up I need you to be kind and gentile to the other kids and show them what kind and gentile means, remember they are children they have no understanding of kind and gentile. Kids learn by example. They learn by doing and seeing. They also hear hit the kid when you say not to hit the child. Lead with what you want get down on there level and show them what kindness and gentle is. I've done this for our own children as well as children who come to see us with their families in the office. Best of luck remember be consistent.
Any questions contact me at ###-###-####
God Bless
Dr. V. LaRocco Health development strategist.



answers from New York on

Dear A.,

First thing is to try and figure out where he is learning the behavior.

Remember NOT to hit at home,
No spankings, for anyone at home. Not even as a joke. Because kids don't understand boundaries,

If other children in the house hit, or wrestle, you need to step in and stop them. If kids see this happening they think its acceptable.

Don't let him watch violent shows, including cartoon where any fighting occurs, especially ninja turtles, Power rangers, tom and jerry.

These all influence your childs behavior.and they try and mimic them.

OK --

So sometimes kids just hit for no reason.

What to do before a play date.

As your getting ready for the playdate,say

Johnny are you excited to have a playdate with julia?
Yes mommy

Good so am I,
Johnny Mommy expects you to be on your best behavior today.

Yes mommy

Mommy knows you can do it, because you are a smart boy, and you know how to follow rules, I am so proud of you, and I know you can do this.

RIGHT baby.
CAn you do this?
YES mommmy

then you say: I know you can make me proud.

Johnny remember there will be NO HITTING in the park.
If you hit we will have to go home.
Because those are the rules.
You are a GOOD boy, and you don't hit.

IF someone hits you, or they aren't listening to you, tell mommy and I will talk to them, because we don't hit. OK

OK mommy.

GOOD BOY, I know you can do this honey.

Then you leave it alone, until you get to the park, and you say : Johnny remember what mommy said. There is NO HITTING.
If something goes wrong, and someone frustrates you or makes you upset.and angry, come and talk to mommy and I will help you.OK ....NO hitting.

Then get out of the car, and help him out.

and get down on his level, eye to eye, give him a big hug and say, Mommy loves you soooooo much, and I know you can do this. because you are a good boy, and YOU DON"T hit , RIGHT?

he should hopefully nod his head or say right.

and then you let him play.

( While the other moms are talking you are watching your child like a hawk, you cannot leave his side for one minute.
and you follow him around)

Watch him as he interacts with them. pay attention to the signs and wait for the moment when he is being good, and say Johnny come here mommy needs to talk to you.

Say Johnny mommy is so proud of you , you are being soooo Good. Thank you for listening. and making me proud of you.

Then say, Remember the rules, NO hitting right, otherwise we will have to go home. If you hit we cannot play and we will have to GO HOME. OK.

Then let him play again.

at this point you are still watching him while the other moms are talking.

If another mom tries to talk to you, you simply explain that you need to keep an eye on your child , Just in case.
your trying to teach him how to behave. and she will understand, you can talk to her, but make sure your easily able to intercede should your child hit, ( You wanna catch him before he hits so you don't have to go home.)

You wanna have a good day with him.without incident.
and if your not watching he will forget, and probably hit.
and you'd be basically setting your child up for failure.
which would be missing the point since you want him to be succesful in not hitting.


The next time you go to the park, you want to repeat the same steps above.

Yes it'll be boring for you, but its much more important for him.

Remember to reward your child for NOT hitting with some sort of treat ( perhaps Mc Donalds or something) And say
BECAUSE you were good and DID not hit, we will go to Mc Donalds, or Dunkin Donuts or Just give him some treat at home.


After the 5th time-- then you can step back, a little
and not follow him everywhere, but still keep a close eye on him. And every once in a while you remind him NOT to hit, and say what a good job he is doing.
remind him you'll have to leave if he hits.


What to do when he hits.

Well if you have been reminding him, warning him etc.

You quietly, explain he cannot hit,tell him to appologize to the child and that NOW YOU must go home.
He will cry, and then you offer him just one more chance to redeem himself saying OK you can take a time out here on the bench, for 3 minutes. and I will give you a chance to make it up, but next time we will go home.

after the time out you say, NO HITTING OK.OR WE GO HOME>

then kiss him, hug him and say I know you can DO IT.


If he hits again you go straight HOME.

No if ands or buts,


Ok my last little bit of advice, Some kids can make your kid more frustrated than normal, avoid those kids.

If you notice that he usually hits one kid in particular, and not the others, then you need to stop playing with that kid, or pay close attention when they are interacting, because Sometimes those kids SAY mean things that you don't hear, or little pushes you don't see, or even hijack toys LOL These seem like little things but kids don't have the coping skills, and when their feelings are hurt they can react. So keep and EYE on that.

I wish you the best of luck..

mother of 3 boys.



answers from New York on

Dear A.,
This is an old-fashioned remedy, not accepted by today's standards, but is very affective. Hit your child; that way they know how it feels when they do it to others.
When my son was about the same age, he had a biting habit. No matter how often I scolded him, he still continued. One day, I had enough and bit him. He said, "Ouch, that hurts." I then explained to him that that's how it feels when he bites others. He NEVER bit anyone again, and that was 20 years ago.
It may sound harsh, but it works.



answers from New York on

Unfortunately, it is completely normal for kids that age to act out physically. Some kids hit, some push, some scream, some pull hair.....

Don't expect it to end immediately, but do make sure your child understands it is completely unacceptable. Provide immediate consequences if you see him hitting someone; if he does it more than twice, leave the playground or playdate immediately. ALSO JUST AS IMPORTANT, IF NOT MORE, is to reward him if he DOESN'T hit a child despite there being a confrontation (other kid did not share a toy, cut in line at the slide, etc.) That will show him how he should be behaving.

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