My 1 1/2 Year Old Started Hitting Me

Updated on March 29, 2010
J.T. asks from Las Vegas, NV
14 answers

My 1 1/2 year old started hitting me out of the blue about a week ago. She started when I would tell her to be nice to the kitty. Now, whenenver I say to be nice, she smacks me in the face or the head (soemtimes she just does it for no specific reason). I tell her very firmly that it hurts mommy when she hits me and I tell her no or to stop hitting me. She doesn't do it in anger, she just thinks it's funny and keeps doing it. She's a stay at home baby, so she hasn't picked up the hitting from another child. I just implemented a 'time-out' chair. She's been to the time out chair a couple times so far. Not sure if it's working quite yet, but thought I'd get some feedback on what you think of the time out chair idea and some input on things that have worked for other moms. Thank so much for your advice!

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So What Happened?

I just saw that someone else posted this same problem. There are some great responses with great advice. Thanks!

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answers from Las Vegas on

My daughter was pulling my hair when she was about 1. So what we did was put her arms in time out. Basically we would hold her hands for about a minute or so. After I told her that since she wasn't being nice to Mommy that I wasn't going to play with her right then. It took a little while but she stopped doing it when she realized she wasn't going to get the attention she wanted. Good Luck!

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answers from Las Vegas on

Hi! I'm going through something similar with my daugther, whose biting. So I read the chapters in my fav. parenting book about how to handle it because I felt overwhelemed. and while the following thing applies to biting, it can also apply to hitting, spitting, etc.

I hope it helps you! i know it helped me. Personally, I don't use time-outs. I don't believe in the withrawal of love philosophy or the way that it 'works'. Neither do I believe in spanking. Soooo, i do a lot of work finding out how I'm going to handle things without the two previous methods.

I cannot recommend enough a book -where this came out of- "becoming the parent you want to be", awesome resource.

AND, we also have a wonderful lady who teaches parenting classes called 'redirecting children's behavior', I think you can find her under the 'reviews'.

anyhow, here it is:

but here's the basics:

variety of impulses that cause the behaviour:

-anger: "i'm angry" "you're in my way"

-frustration "nothing is going the way I want it to "

-frustration coupled with limited vocabulary:
"I have an idea and I can't get it out"

-communication: "move"

-physical needs: "im really hungry/sleepy"

-teething pain: "my gumps feel funny. I'm trying to relieve them so I can feel better"

-Imitation: "i saw rudy bite elliot and it seemed like an interesting thing to do. So Now I'm going to try and see what happens"

-Exploration: "someone idd this to me and I'm trying to figure out what it feels like to bite someone"

-experimentation: "what happens when I do this"

-Social exploration "i'm asking for some social rules" "how do people keep me from doing this?" " i wonder what mommy will do when I bite?, how does grandma feel about it?" Is biting kids different than biting grownups?"

-release of tension: "it feels good when I bite"

-to get attention: " you've been talking on the phone for a long time dad"

-being powerful: "all kinds of big things happen when I bite!"

-"sensory pleasure: "even adults like to bite sometimes"

-initiating play or affection: " I want you to be my friend" "hi, you look interesting, I think I'll bite you"
* babies and toddlers don't understand that biting hurts people. They may think it's a lot like kissing. It may feel good to them to bite and they think it must feel good to the person being bitten.

-Accidentally: "i didn't really meant to bite you. My mouth just happened to be near your arm and I just kind of slipped".
*sometimes it's kind of like "i've got this bite here and I need to put it someplace. Not really on someone, I just have to do this with my mouth"

Responding to children who bite:

How ou intervene depends of the status of the bite:
Is the child goving after someone with his mouth open ready to bite? --this is YES for Emilia-- Has the bite already happened? Is there another person besides you involved?

--set a limit: When a bite is about to happen, physical and verbal limit seting often come first. You hold the child's mouth away from the intended target and say : "i'm not going to let you bite X". or "I will help you to stop biting". You must stay calm and will avoid raising the tension level of the interaction.

--Honor the impulse: you can make an educated guess about why the child is biting. Then you can check in with teh child: "it looks like you want to say hi to joshua" "i wonder if you're trying to tell Pablo to move" "Im wondring if your mouth is hurting". THen watch for the child's reaction. IF the child relaxes or creis, that may be a sign that you've hit on the right reason.

--Give social information: "biting hurts. I won't let you bite people"

--Redirect: Redirect the child to bite someting else or to channel his inital impulse into a behavior that is more acceptable. ie. "it looks like you're really mad, you can roar like a lion" "it looks like you want mohammed to stop pushing you. You can tell him 'stop'.

--don't bite them back:
first, biting hurts
second, babies and toddlers aren't capable of empathy.
third, if we bite them back we tell them "biting is an ok thing to do"

--it's crucial not to stigmatize a child who bites: calling a child a 'biter' or a 'pirahna' can reinforce the behavior. the child thinks to herself, "oh, I'm a biter. I buess that's what I do in teh world".

when one child bites another child, hyour first impulse may be to sparate them But often the moments that follow the injury can be full of valuable lessonsf or both children. When we remove the child who bites and only comfort the onther child, neither child is allowed to complete the interaction.
if, however, we faicilitate a resolution between the children, we have the opportunity to teach several things: how to communicate, how to respond to being hurt, and how not to bite.



answers from San Francisco on

Wow! My three year old daughter just started hitting me also. She is home with me all the time also and I'm at my wits end. When she hits me I'm afraid that it's out of anger because she will allways do it after I tell her not to do something. If you find out anything please let me know.



answers from Las Vegas on

My DS started biting at about that age we of course firmly told him NO but we also told him we give kisses not bites because kisses are nice to give. Maybe if you show her to give hugs not hits it will help. My DS is 3 1/2 and hasn't bit in a long long time gives alots of kisses. Just an idea. J.



answers from Portland on

Unfortunately, this is a phase most kids go through. Just keep doing what you are doing. If the time out chair does not seem to be working, you could tell her she will need to go to her room and take a nap. Eventually, she will get through this and so will you! Good luck!



answers from Omaha on

My daughter started doing this at exactly the same age. We tried time out and everythig we could think of. It was so frusterating!! This is when we stared seeing a behavior [email protected] helped tremendously!! We were putting her in time out for 1 minute and letting her out. He said that she has to sit in time out AFTER she was calm and sitting right for 1 minute!! He warned (and was right) that the first time doing it this way especially at this young age, may take a really long time and we may have to do it a lot of times.....and it did. Then when she was able to get up, we praised her for sitting still and calm ect, ect. If she threw something in her tantrum, we asked her get down from her chair and pick it up and hand it to us. Praising her for doing what we asked and for acting calm. The first few times were hell, but it was such a huge payoff. She very quickly at that young age, learned that there were concequences for her behavior. He also gave us some tips, like...dont' send her to her bedroom or make her sit on a comfy recliner, sit her on a hard-er kitchen chair. It was a hard stage because she was having diffulty expressing her feelings and wants to us, but she had to learn that hitting us (especially in the face like that) is not acceptable. I remember feeling so frusterated and helpless at controlling this behavior. Good luck.



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi J.,
My son (who is almost 2) was doing the same thing and it all started with the "be nice to kitty" thing. My husband and I don't believe in hitting or yelling, so we firmly told him "no" and gave him a warning that he would go to time out if he did it again. Of course, he did it to time out he went. His crib is an excellent time out spot, because it effectively curbs his freedom (which he greatly dislikes) and we leave him in there with no toys for about 5-10 mintues each time he misbehaves. It works really well and he's not only stopped hitting us, he is nicer to kitty too.
I think the warning part is important because it gives the child a chance to stop before punishment's a respectful thing and teaches him respect by example.
Good luck! - L.



answers from Salt Lake City on


Our daughter is a little bit older and she had picked up hitting at the daycare. We read into how to approach it since toddlers have trouble understanding pain in others. We decided to follow the advice of one of the many we read that said to state very loudly ow! and to look very sad and then say that hurts mommy. Then to take her hand and show her soft strokes where she just hit and say "be Soft to mommy. love mommy, hitting hurts." Its only after that if when you show her how to be soft for a few days that if she hits you (which will still happen sometimes) Without apologizes and attempting to be soft that she would get timeout for about 30 seconds or so. It seems to work for us.

Good luck!



answers from Lincoln on

I think that the time out chair is a great idea!! And make sure that you do something to let her know when the time is up like a timer or something. 1 minute for their age. I find that it works better if I put them in the ime out chair and set a timer then when it is done we talk about what they did wrong.(I also have an 18 mo. old) and she will understand she did something wrong and will say sorry!
Stay strong!!!
A. B



answers from Portland on

i cried and told him how much it hurt, had the tears going, which wasnt hard, my feelings were hurt. He didnt like to see mommie cring and asked whats wrong, I told him it hurt me when you hit me, my cheek and my heart. He then was sorry, and hugged me for an hour afterwards. He hasn't raised a hand to anyone after that.

milwaukie mom of 2

my daughter is in high school now, my son is a hefty 10 and a very active 5th grader.



answers from Portland on

This is certainly not an uncommon occurance. My three year old daughter tried it a couple of times when she was about a year old and my response was a firm "No hitting." I would tell her "soft" and show her what soft was. If she hit again, I simply put her down or I got up so she wasn't able to hit me. Removal of my attention was her "punishment." I would even tell her that I would only play with her if she was soft. It took a couple of repetitions, but she soon learned.

Best wishes,



answers from Portland on

My son did the same thing at that age. You are doing the right thing with the timeout chair. Do not worry this will pass soon, and then something else will probably take it's place :).



answers from Portland on

my son did this same thing at about the same age (he's 2 1/2 now). i also say "that hurts mama," or "not funny" and i couple it with immediately putting him down (if i'm holding him), and walking away--into another room or just to the desk or couch--and ignoring him for a minute or two. it took some time, but he eventually put it together that hitting = no attention. he still hits sometimes, but not nearly as often, and not because he thinks it's funny.



answers from Salt Lake City on

It will work great just give her 1 warning and if she does it agian put her there be consistent that worked for me as long as my kids know what will happen in turn of there actions they usually stop.

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