How to Stop My Child from Hitting?

Updated on May 03, 2007
A.S. asks from Dacula, GA
12 answers

Hi, my name is A.. I have a 19mo old little girl who has taken to hitting. At first it was just me, but now it is getting worse. I know this is common for children her age, but it is concerning me because I cannot get her to stop and this past weekend she hit her 5mo old cousin. I have tried time outs(which she completely does not get yet), I have repeatedly told her no and explained why we don't hit, I have tried acting like it hurt me and tried getting her to apologize(which she just looked at me like I was crazy)and just the other day I tried smacking her little hand to show her that it hurt so that maybe she would stop (I was completely against this because I knew that telling her not to hit but at the same time hitting her was counterproductive, but I felt like I was out of options and a few people kept telling me that if she knew that it would hurt she would stop) well I did it and she hit me back. So........I am out of ideas. Does anyone have any advice for me?

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J.C.

answers from Atlanta on

I know a lot of people do not agree with me but I pop mine on the butt when they are hitting with anger, and they stop. They do get upset, but that then gives me the chance to explain to them what they did wrong. Watch when she hits, sometimes they "hit" to touch. Not really trying to hit but they do not know how to make direct contact with out swatting. Mine hit their little sister trying to play with her hair, like I do, so I hold their hand and show them how to rub their head. This might be why she hit her cousin. I think if you do not watch their attitude while they do it, and punish them every time, then you can be teaching them not to be affectionate(sp). I think we all need to remember they try to do what we do, so it they see you rubbing the babies head then they want to. I know it is not great advice but I have 15 month old twins and noticed I can tell a difference when they are trying to love, or play and when they are being ugly.

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L.W.

answers from Atlanta on

I am speaking from my professional expertise as well as a mom here... I specialize in counseling children ages 2-5 and their parents.... I will tell you that all young children are seeking a sense of power as they learn who they are in relation to others. Physical aggression yields a powerful result for young children (and many adults!). I advise parents to help young children feel powerful through more positive and adaptive means so the need is met thereby replacing the aggressive behavior. Your daughter is still very young, but I would begin young, giving her "VERY important jobs" such as folding washcloths and dishtowels out of the dryer, putting the spoons in the drawer from the diswasher, stacking the plastic cups, etc. all the while responding, "Wow! YOU did that all by yourself!" You can't reason with a 19 month old but you can provide alternatives to the hitting. Less words, more action and immediately. Yes, we can hit a pillow, No, we don't hit people. Physically redirect her to a cushion and guide her to tap it or hit it witth a nod and a yes. If you catch her trying to hit someone, quickly respond with a very sharp, "NO!" and then direct her back to a cushion and guide her hand to hit the cushion. Giv her soft balls to throw into a big bucket as a "yes!" and other large motor activities. Give her as many "yes" opportunities as possible so the "NO!" will be more effective. Do not hit her as this sends a mixed message and teaches her that larger people are allowed to overpower smaller people. I am available for private counseling and parent consultation in Marietta and Kennesaw. You can email me for further info if you need more assistance. Good luck!

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C.W.

answers from Atlanta on

Hi A.,

I am a mom of three girls (ages 5 1/2, 31/2, and 18 months). My older two went through this phase very briefly. I was able to stop them just by saying in a loud sad voice (not yelling, just very exaggerated) that it wasn't nice to hit and that it hurt me. However, my youngest is definately the one with the strongest will. She hits our middle daughter, who she plays with the most and me. As soon as I tell her "No, that's not nice, she'll lean in for a hug, but 10 minutes later she'll be hitting or throwing or screaming again. I asked my pediatrician about it. The pediatrician recommended a book called "Parenting with Love and Logic." I have ordered the book but have not yet read it. The other suggestion she gave was to make a BIG DEAL over the victim. When she hits one of her sisters I pick them up, cover them with kisses, take them into the other room and totally ignore the 18 month old. You can't do this if she hits you, but you could just say, "That's not nice," and then walk out of the room. The pediatrician explained that negative attention is still attention and to not give any attention to bad behavior.

I hope this helps. It seems to be working for us, and I am looking forward to receiving the book I ordered.

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N.L.

answers from Atlanta on

I have an 18 month old, and times outs do work, they have since he was about 16 months old. I repeat the word time out over and over as I put him in his room. After a month, I could say, "do you want time out", and he stops, the vast majority of the time, if he doesn't, he goes to time out. I must say I do not agree that kids do not understand time out before 2, and I'm a bit disappointed in the responses suggesting spankings. Kids learn by your example. So they are upset and they do what you do to them - hit. and they don't need to fear you, they need to feel you are the one that gives them borders, let them know when they do something wrong, and praise when they make a good decision. Kids also feed off parents energy so you should remain calm and try not to get worked up. Redirecting is a great way to avoid most situations. I also taught my son how to "be gentle". We started by petting animals ("show me gentle") and now, I start with this when he gets rough with younger kids.(yes he may "pet" them, but hey, better than hitting!) Then, I use "time out" if this doesn't work. Good luck!

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K.S.

answers from Macon on

Hi A., I agree that you have to stop this and I wish I had an answer for you. My 18 month old hits also. I just tell him no and change the subject. The more focus you put on it the more she will do it. Try to ignore it and start playing with another toy or talk about something else. Distraction works for me. But you have to be consistent with whatever you do. Do the same thing every time for the same misbehavior. It may takes weeks to break it but the less attention you give her when she does it, the less she will do it. I do hope this helps.

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H.F.

answers from Atlanta on

Hi A., I use time out for my kids. I know that your daughter doesn't understand, but one thing I did was make them have time out in the porta-crib. I kept it set up in the dining room (which we didn't use often) and if they hit I would tell them why I was putting them in and how long they would have to stay. Then I would set them in (all of this accompanied by screaming tears) and leave the room. I think the worst part was me leaving them there for a few minutes by themselves. They HATED that. But, it made them aware that hitting was not acceptable. I agree with the other mothers who have responded. Consistancy is the most important factor of discipline. Even if it doesn't work at first keep it up. You may have to add something, but don't stop one discipline and start another, that just lets your daughter know that she is able to control your actions. That's all this 'stage' is, her seeking control over herself, her environment and you. Good luck!

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B.M.

answers from Atlanta on

Something that worked for us. No matter where we were or what we were doing if my son hit someone I would tell him that his favorite thing was going to be put in the "no play box". In our case it was his favorite pair of boots. I have a box that sits out where he can see it and when he does something bad his favorite things go in that box. Obviously it may not work right away but my son doesn't hit others and he stopped biting me. We tried spanking,and time out but it didn't work. So I came up with the no play box. He doesn't get his toys back for one week. We have a little calendar that we mark on and he is now learning the days of the week because of this.

Good Luck!

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J.F.

answers from Atlanta on

If she's not hitting to hurt, you could try giving her something to redirect this action. Maybe try a toy drum?

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J.A.

answers from Atlanta on

A.,

I don't have a solution, unfortunately, but I am interested to find out what advice you get. I have 18 month old twins and I am experiencing the same thing!

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H.G.

answers from Atlanta on

Everyone has given very good advice. I agree with everyone. I just wanted to say that being consistent is the key. My 2-year-old son also hit. Unfortunately, he learned this behavior at childcare. Now, I am a childcare provider. I am now able to let him know that hitting hurts and we don't want to hurt our friends or our family. He says "OK". I can honestly say that it lasts for the day. He may have forgotten the next day and we just repeat. Now he may only hit once or twice a week (maybe 3) when it use to be at least 5-6 times a day. Oh, also when the "talking to" didn't work. He had to be my "shadow" for a hour. While the others kids were playing he had to remain by side. I explained to him why. To tell you the truth, I think the "shadowing" is what really did the trick. Good luck to you. It will all work out.

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J.J.

answers from Athens on

My 2yo does the same thing and most times he's wanting attention or he's not getting his way. I've found the only thing that works is completly ignoring him. The only thing that stops him is when he doesn't get a reaction out of the person he hits. My 2 older kids get the brunt of his hitting and I've taught them to ignore it too and when they do he stops. Hope this helps good luck:)

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A.Z.

answers from Savannah on

Hi A.,
I am so sorry to hear you are having so much trouble with your little girl hitting. I know it can be a frustrating thing to deal with and yes your right it can also be a double edged sword, with not knowing how to handle it.

Well my little ones have had trouble with hitting and my two year old daughter still at times does hit. But it isn't as bad as you have to deal with.

My suggestion is if she has a favorite wubby, animal, doll or anything of that nature it be a leverage tool. Say if she hits, tell her "I will take your ****(toy) if you hit anyone again" "and tell *soandso* you are sorry for hitting them and you will not hit them again" Try to explain once again that hitting is not nice and you could hurt someone very bad. (I don't know if you have tried asking her why she hits, I know my two year old just says because or because I hit, so she isn't understanding that level but your little girl maybe a little more articulate" If she hits again take her priced possession...and when she cries or gets angry Isolate her, put her on her bed, in a chair away from everyone for two minutes. I know it is hard to talk over a child that is screaming in anger or tears but let her know when she is finished you will talk to her. When you physically remove her from time out then tell her that HITTING is not nice and can hurt badly and will not be tolerated. This may take a few times to let her know you mean business. Then she will not get her ****(toy) back until the end of the day (and only if she does not hit again by that time, and when you catch her in the process of hitting stop her before she does it and remind her you have *** and if she wants it back she is not to hit).

Also when she asks for something special, say in the store or a treat like ice cream or something she gets as a reward, remind her she will not be getting it until she stops hitting other people including mommy. I don't know if this will work but CONSISTANCY IS KEY!!!! I know this all sounds like allot of information for a 19mth old but you have tried almost everything else. I sure hope you get through this. I am also a stay at home mom and find these situations very tough to deal with alone so email me anytime you need to vent or just talk.... Best of Luck with this one.... A. ([email protected]____.com) www.busymomsworkathome.com

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