I Can't Get My Toddler to Stop Hitting

Updated on June 29, 2011
M.P. asks from Orem, UT
9 answers

Ok since my son first started to hit me or objects (13ish months) I started doing the holding his hand and firmly say "don't Hit. It hurts." It hasn't worked. He's now 20 months and hits more than ever. I know it's because of day care and the other kids that hit there. So I understand that he is still a toddler and he sometime will hit because well he's not perfect. But he'll hit over the smallest little things. I know it's him expressing himself and his anger, but how can I get him to stop doing it?
If you look back at my past questions I asked one about why do people hit their kids to get them to stop and a lot of the mom's reasons were sound and made sense.(I put spaces in the link to make sure it wont get pulled) http://w ww. mamapedia.com/q uestio ns/111639 ###-###-#### 2193
Well since it hadn't been working my old way, I tried swatting his hand to get him to stop. It's made things worse. Joy. So what should I do now? I would like more info on positive parenting too if anybody has read that book.

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So What Happened?

Wow Rachel S. I'll have to try that. He's getting better with his talking, but we are also doing sign language. I think I'll start doing that :D

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answers from Boise on

Is there any way you can get him out of the dog eat dog atmoshpere of daycare- that would help. Until then he is going to act just like them.

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answers from Pocatello on

The hand swatting didn't work- but that is OK.

Sometimes kids don't "get" that thier actions hurt, and the only way to explain it to them is by showing them... but obviously THAT isn't his issue. (don't feel bad about swatting his hand once)

Try to teach him to be gentle... he is about ready for 1 minute time-outs. You tell him "NO HITTING!" and then put him in time out for 30 seconds - 1 minute. then... tell him how to act appropriately... in "kid talk"... keep it simple. Say, "don't hit... be gentle..., ok?" Prompt him to acknowledge you with "ok" or "yes".

Like Rachel D. said... persistance is key. Whatever you do, be consistant. First stop the behavior, second discipline with a consistent consequence... third explain what he SHOULD do. If it looks like he is about to hit, but hasn't YET... remind him before he gets in trouble "Remember, no hitting honey!" in a kind way. With my daughter it also helped to let her be MAD... but not hit. So she could say "I am MAD!!!" and stomp around and I would then get down and "talk" to her about why she was mad. Teaching her new ways to express herself helped immensely with the hitting issue! at 2.5 years old it has been a LONG time since she has hit anyone.

Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

I've said this a million times on here and I'll say it a million more times, because it works. Persistence is key.

When your son hits, take his hands, get down to eye level, and run his hands down the sides of your face, smiling, and say 'Niiiiice, niiiiiiice', then do it to his face. Then say 'your do it!' When he does it, make a big stink about it. Do this every time he hits (older siblings can help too). After doing this forever, you won't even have to hold his hands, just say 'don't hit, be niiiiiice', and then instead of hitting, the child 'pets' whoever/whatever they were hitting (works for the dog too!). I've done this with 3 kids and a ton of kids I used to babysit, and it's worked EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It's foolproof.

Kids that age hit because they get frustrated that they can't communicate the way we can with words; it's hard on them!

Good luck :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

RUN to the library and check out The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Karp. What your little one is doing is age appropriate, but it also can be replaced by other behaviors. When he gets angry, you can mirror what he needs to do...stamp your feet, shake your fists, and say, "Mad! Mad! Mad!" Obviously there are other things to do :) but this is a good example. Also, as his language increases, and he is encouraged to *use his words* and not his fists, things will improve. I will go out on a limb here and disagree with the previous suggestions of hitting him. You hitting him for hitting cements the fact that the bigger the person, the more legitimate it is to become the bully to get your way. That's not your goal, and doesn't fit the positive parenting style. While you look for the above book, also see if they have Love and Limits by Crary. It's 38 pages long and full of ideas!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

My daughter started as well and I did the hand holding thing which didn't really work. Then I just put her in time out. The when time was up and the oscar performance wore off, I explained that she should not hit in very short easy sentences with lots of no's attached. Then I would pet my arm and say "gentle". Its worked. this is how I trained her not to poke at prod at the dogs and how to treat babies—gentle! She has since stopped hitting. She still "tests" me, though, and I gasp really loudly and threaten time out. I stress the same reaction to her at daycare. She's 2.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Sometimes there are things you just have to wait for them to outgrow. Hitting is one of those peer pressure endings. When they realize they have no friends because they are hitting they stop hitting, ya know? Yeah I know everyone in his preschool hits, wonderful.

Sorry I am of no help.

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answers from Great Falls on

We went through a bit of that, not sure if it's the answer, but I've always wanted my son to know that it's okay to express himself.... appropriately. So we work on the no hitting at the same time we're telling him which words to use to express anger, sadness, happiness, etc... We talk about using his words and his day care really pushes this also so it's made a huge difference. There was even an incident where another little boy was really pushing and shoving him and they said he did so well at not hitting back and using his words that they almost wanted to tell him to defend himself! :) Maybe just try making sure you show him the correct way to express himself as often as you're telling him not to hit. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

Is there any way you can switch day care centers or even just day care classes? Yes, there is usually some amount of hitting at any day care, but sometimes a lot of aggressive kids end up in the same place and it rubs off on everyone in the group, then transfers to home. It's worth a try. I found this to be the case when my son was in preschool and started hitting more at home. I sat in on his class and watched how often kids hit eachother. It just seemed to be way too much so I switched him to a different classroom at the same school and it made a huge difference in how my son behaved at home. My other son, the one who is more aggressive, has never responded well to being spanked or having his hand slapped. It actually made him more stubborn and badly behaved. Don't believe the people who tell you a little swat can get a kid to shape up. You know now that it doesn't work that way with this particular child so stick with your gut. Good luck!



answers from Denver on

For all of my kids we use the time out method but we do not call it time out. Also, time out doesn't work if you don't do it right. You have to pick them up as soon as the do the action you don't like (hitting) bring them to their spot that you deem "time out" look them in the eye and tell him " you are here because you hit me or him/her or the dog and that is not ok" then walk away. They may try to get up scream and cry whatever, but you just keep putting them back without another word. Trying to engage them only makes it worse. Then when they are calm or have sat there for at least as long as their age (1 minute per year) then you go in repeat why they were there, give him a hug and you are done. Do this EVERY time and you will win the battle. It worked on all three of my kids so far.

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