My Toddler! Did that...strict parents-HELP Me

Updated on February 13, 2012
K.B. asks from San Diego, CA
19 answers

can't believe my two year old hits me! everytime i say no to him or take something away from him that he shouldn't be playing with , he starts to scream then he slaps me, yes slaps me! i've lightly slapped him back and he'll slap me right back, i've held his hands and gone down to his level, eye level, and said , no hitting mommy, i've sent him to time out, i've taken toys away and nothing has worked, he does it all the time. Earlier today he got mad at me for taking the remote away from him, he picked up a toy and was getting ready to throw it at me, i didn't see but my husband did and he was able to knock the toy off his hand. My son is two, this scares me, i don't wanna be on the dr phil show 10 yrs later because my teen or whatever is so out of control/violent etc etc, I REFUSE TO BE THAT PARENT AND TO HAVE THAT CHILD. Any advise i'll take it, i believe in anything. When i was young my mother use to swat me with a wooden SWAT, worked well for me and my brother. However, I wouldn't use that on my son... especially never at this age, but I do believe in spanks, just that doesn't work for him, my son could careless.I've tried so many ways of making him understand not to hit mommy but he doesn't "GET IT" or does he??? what am i doing wrong?

small discription of my son, he's two, speaks very little, he listens well...(when i give him directions or explain things to him) he plays well with other children, he shares, he doesn't throw fits, he's not fussy, he loves to eat, dance, play, sing, he knows how to eat by himself, he loves to color, at day care they tell me he's such a good boy, however, at home when we take something away from him or he gets in trouble thats when he will "attack" us. he doesn't bite, doesn't kick, never did, he's a good boy when he's not mad. he's always so calm , hardly cries, he knows how to pick up his toys and put them back when i tell him to, if i tell him to go to bed he will crawl into his bed and tuck himself in, he knows how to count to ten, i mean he's very good, smart, and listens when i tell him to do this or that or bring me this, but when we tell him not to be playing with such and or not to be doing that, he flips.

What can I do next?

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answers from Los Angeles on

It's very simple, he hits you because you "very genlty" hit him back. You cannot teach a child that hitting is wrong, by hitting him. This is the same thing my friend does to her kids, if they hit, they get hit. You have to completely stop hitting him if you want to see a change. At my kid's school they have showed us many many ways to deal with hitting such as.....for example if he hits you you tell him very nicely "hands are not for hitting" and then you take his little hand and make him caress you (where he hit you) and say "niceeee, I like it when you are nice to me" another one is, if he hits you you tell him " it makes me very sad when you hit me, and I don't like that" then again take his hand and have him caress you. I have 4 girls, none are hitters, they're 11,5,2,1. My 1 yr old started to get agressive b/c she had 2 agressive boys at daycare, and this technique got her right back on track.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Have you ever taken him for a speech evaluation? They could give you some tips that have helped other parents and kids.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

huh. he hits you, you hit him, and yet he's not learning not to hit.
quelle surprise!
he's only two. he's not very verbal, he's constantly being thwarted in his desires (all two year olds are), his communication venue is extremely limited, and the center of his world is hitting him and getting mad at him for doing it.
see my point?
i don't think you're awful and lots of moms will come on here and tell you how awesome it is that you're attempting this type of discipline. but think about it. what are you REALLY communicating to a frustrated tiny being who just wants to understand and be understood?
your job is to model appropriate behavior and that means staying calm when he's melting down. time out and taking his toys away are not a rational consequence, they're not 'teaching' him anything but to be more frustrated. hold his hands if he's trying to hit you, repeat your 'no hitting' (no long explanations, no changing the words), and stay calm and keep him in a calm environment while he learns the lifelong art of control.
he won't get it in a week.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Take a breath mommy, you can handle this, it's part of having a 2 year old.

The fact that he's 2 means this can't have been going on for THAT long, but already you've tried just about every thing you can think of and "nothing works." The thing is, that there is no magic bullet. The right thing is not going to fix this behavior the first time you try it. You've got to stop sending these mixed messages, stop acting out of desperation, and focus on doing what is RIGHT.

Here's my advice:

1) Try not to SURPRISE him with "no." Give him a chance to get it right. A two year old probably doesn't need to feel like he's "in trouble" all the time. Instead of taking the remote away from him try saying "_____ the remote is not a toy. Come give it to Mommy please." If he doesn't bring it to you, walk over and say "________, I asked you to bring me the remote. Here hand it to me now, or I will have to take it away." He may feel less out of control if he understands what's going on.

2) DON'T "lightly slap him back." No wonder he doesn't get it. You don't want him to hit, but you (his role model) are hitting. You say "hitting hurts" but when you hit him, he sees that it DOESN'T hurt. (I'm not saying hurt your child, I'm saying, it's a silly message to send). He probably doesn't understand that it hurts. PPs have given great advice on how to make him understand that he's hurting you.

3) Help him use his words. He's hitting because he's frustrated and he "speaks very little." Instead of just telling him not to do that, help him learn what he CAN do about it. When he's frustrated help him say "I don't like that." instead of hitting.

I really hope this helps. Good luck.


10 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

This behavior is normal. I suggest that you're paying too serious and too much attention to it. At 2 it's a matter of teaching him appropriate ways to express his anger. Stopping him by holding his hand and saying do not hit mommy is the way to go. You have to do this over and over. Stop with the other things. He will learn.

When you put him in time out and take toys away you are increasing his anger. What you want to do is teach him how to express his anger. Tell him to use his words if he knows how to say something like mad. Tell him say mad and then hit a pillow or stuffed piece of furniture. Show him how to walk away from you. I showed my grandchildren how to turn and stomp away saying, I'm mad at Grandma. Two may be too young for that. I only did this once in awhile and it turned us all into giggles.

You can put him in a safe place with soft music as a place in which he will calm down. It's not punitive. It's teaching him how to calm himself. Because he's only two, I suggest that you stay with him, telling him in soft tones to be calm or even read to him. Hold his hands if he's still hitting you and once he's stopped do the calm corner thing.

Toddlers have an especially difficult time to "be nice" when they're hungry and/or tired. Be sure that he's getting enough sleep/rest and consistent meals and snacks.

Also try to redirect his attention instead of telling him not to do something. If he's playing with the remote, for example, hand him a toy he likes as you take the control away. If he's climbing up on something you don't want him to be climbing on, move him to a place he can climb on or start him doing something else.

I want to reassure you that this is not a sign that your baby will grow to be "that" child. Learning how to appropriately express his anger is a difficult task. And for the parent it's often a challenge to learn how to direct a child in a manner that produces less anger.

I suggest reading the book, How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Your son sounds like a very well-behaved child for his age. It's good that you want to stop this inappropriate behavior. You can do that gradually, however, without resorting to hitting your child for hitting. That can be confusing to many kids – they hear you say no, but then you do what you tell them not to do. Some kids get it, others just don't.

But your son is at a very frustrating age – he probably gets told "NO" many times during the day. He tries to do things that he's not yet able to manage. He doesn't get to touch and manipulate many of the things he sees around him and finds interesting. And parents get to make him do things on their own schedule, without thinking much about how exasperating this might be for him. If you realize how frustrating this all is, you might be able to give him advance warnings when you'll need him to do something.

His brain isn't developed enough yet to consistently realize his behaviors result in consequences. He'll get there – almost all kids do by the time they reach 4 or so, and his impulsive behavior will gradually improve until he's in control of himself more or less consistently. But you'll need to come up with a consistent response for him to get there more quickly – he'll just be confused if you react differently every week.

If I were in your shoes, I would use the hand-holding approach – take his hands immediately, gently but firmly EVERY time. If he's holding something he intended to throw, calmly remove it from his hand and put it out of reach. Tell him with a firm voice something like "We don't hit people." Give him words to use instead of actions: "I feel mad!" "I want that, please." "I want to finish doing this, please." "Will you help me?" If it seems appropriate, let him pound on a pillow to get his frustration out, or even get him into a giggly mood.

He's learning by your example how to respond to upset and frustration. No parent is perfect, but do your best to stay in a calm, cheerful place. He will get there eventually. Two-year-olds are well-known for being unable to control their moods well. By four or five, children have learned to be much more civilized.

Marda's suggestion of the book How to Talk… is a good one. I've used those easy-to-learn techniques with my grandson since he was 2.5, and it's been very good for our communication.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

This is totally normal, age appropriate behavior and will go away *IF* you don't hit back. Just don' "swats," "spanks," "pops," nothing. If you do that, you are teaching him that aggression is OK. He isn't able to cognitively understand "oh that hurt, so therefore I'll be sure to not do that again." He'll just think "I hit, she hits, I hit again."

Just gently take his hands, get down at is eye level and say "no hitting" in a firm voice (not yelling, not loud, but firm). And then either immediately redirect or walk away. Every time it happens, you do the same thing. If he is calm enough, you can follow the "no hit" with "gentle touch" or something like that in a warm an encouraging voice, and try to get him to pat or hug or something nice so that he associates gentle touch with positive feelings and aggressive touch with lack of attention.

As he gets older and learns to speak, he'll be less prone to act out aggressively. Right now, it's the only way he can communicate his frustration. It can sometimes help even this young, after the moment has passed and he is calming down, to help him label his feelings even though he's not really talking yet. "It feels bad to not get what we want. You must be so mad right now." If you help him label his feelings even this young, he'll start to understand what he's feeling and will know that you hear him and understand him.

There are lots of great parenting books out there - go to the library or bookstore, browse the parenting section and pick a book or two that speaks to you. Some that I have either read or see recommended over and over are the Love and Logic series, the Positive Discipline series, and the Touchpoints series. Learning about what is age-appropriate can help you navigate these young years with more confidence and can help make sure that you don't unintentionally set up patterns that aren't helpful and that you have to try to un-do years down the road.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

He's two. They all do this. This is how I stopped the behavior with my kids:

first time they hit, I made a noise to let him know I was hurt, and I put on a "pained" face. My son responded by throwing his arms around me and saying "sorry." He did this for a long while, but then decided when we were out one day that he really didn't want to leave the playground, so I got hit over and over again. I just held his arms and left. If he hits me or his sister when we are at home, he goes straight to his room. This works great. He always comes out running saying "sorry." He has yet to hit another kid, but I am sure he will try that at some point.

Seriously, this is perfectly normal behavior! I had a BBQ when my daughter was 2.5. Two of her friends started hitting each other like you wouldn't believe! I have the imagines in my mind because it was just so shocking. Shocking, but perfectly normal.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Madison on

You need to replace your hand swat with a "tool" we have a paddle, I believe in stern discipline in certain areas and this would be one. A swat on the but should be good.

I think that it is important to not hit with any body part as it gives the wrong message. And of course you cannot overuse your "tool" either.

I can tell you one thing too many parents are lax in this area and I think that is why so many children have grown up to have little to no respect for others. My children will be discipline when they do wrong at a young age and an old age...they will never be "let off easy" because we wouldn't want to dreprive them of what others have....I think by taking this route we will give them so much more then what the "others" have in there school/grade. Respect among other things is so valuable.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Champaign on

Totally normal!!! Seriously, this is so normal for a 2 year old. I'm not saying don't work with him. You definitely want to discourage this behavior. Keep working with him. Remind him that we don't hit, and show him "nice touch." But it really is normal. You're not on a path for the Dr. Phil show. Otherwise, we'd all be there! They don't call it the "terrible two's" for nothing.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

the ladies have given some great tips so far - and i wanted to add, although this is "normal" behavior, it doesn't make it okay, so it's good that you are trying to stop it NOW.

one thing that worked for my son was in a firm, not-happy voice, tell him "NO hitting mama!" make your face very unhappy or sad, and get up and walk away. if he goes into an actual tantrum, i would send him to his room and tell him that when he can be NICE he can come out. then it's on him to decide to end the tantrum/behavior. my son was very susceptible to my moods and making me happy, so that worked for him. the trick with my son was make it very clear that nothing good would come of that behavior. now, at five, when he is acting out, i will even say to him, "what good comes from acting like this? NONE, that's right. so you need to keep your mouth shut if you can't say something nice." (or whatever)

i think the trick is learning what clicks for them. hitting=unhappy mommy=no loving or attention from mommy. he will figure it out, you just have to keep at it. i have never seen hitting back to work -except as shock factor that mom would do that - it might stop them for a moment. but then if it continues then it becomes like a battle of who can hit the most/hardest.

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answers from Minneapolis on

At this age, they do not know how to deal with powerful emotions so they just react with whatever feels natural. It is normal at this age, but it is our job as parents to teach them how to deal with powerful emotions. It is one of the tasks I find most challenging as a parent.

It will take A LOT of repetition. Everytime my son would hit or bite me out of anger or frustration, I would say, "Hitting hurts, mommy doesn't like to be hit, she likes hugs" and then throw out my arms for a hug. Once he was calm we could talk about what upset him. Help him to start to put words to the emotion (anger, frustration, disappointment, fear, etc.) and then have him give an idea for how he can react with words next time instead of hands.

Good luck and remember to keep a cool head even if it feels like you have to repeat the lesson 100 times. He will get it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on


no seriously... next time he hits you... don't get mad... just muster up some tears and start crying. He probably doesn't understand that it hurts you! Toddlers need discipline, but sometimes they learn better though compassion... he won't want to see you cry! Convince him of how truly sad it makes you... and then ask him if you can be happy 'family' again. Tell you still love him and forgive him and see how that works for you!

Good Luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would make sure to over tell him how good he is behaving when he is playing nicely. when he gets mad tell him I know you are mad but you can not hit its not nice and walk away from him until he can calm down and starts playing nice again. he will eventually relize he dosent get much attention when hes naughty and stop. Good luck this is a tough age

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answers from Dover on

Kids this age do tend to push their boundaries and since they aren't able to communicate as well as an older child, they do tend to act out a bit.

One thing that comes to mind is that maybe he is witnessing another child act out this way at the daycare and is copying that at home. Check w/ the teacher. If that is the case, they may have some good ideas on how to handle it.

Another thought is to pay attention to how you are interacting with him just before he acts out. Is he possibly acting out to get your attention (kids tend to like attention even if it is negative)? Are things loud or chaotic? Maybe he is over stimulated. You said he listens when you explain things to him...that is good but you also don't want to get into the habit that you have to explain things to him every time you tell him something (as he gets older that is a battle you don't want). Could it be that he is acting out at those times when you haven't explained things? Maybe you could give quick explanations while trying to get this under control.

Good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

I highly recommend reading 123 Magic.
Our was a lot like yours. Sweet boy, but strong willed and "opinionated". :)

I'm not much of a parenting book reader...but a friend suggested this. It's a quick read, with really basic principles that actually do work. Life saver for us!

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answers from Huntington on

Sounds like my son. Its really hard but stay consistet. If you are at home and he hits you, try not to react. Calmly say uh-oh, we don't hit/hurt mommy. Carrying him to his room and shut the door. If he flips out, keep him in there until he calms down. We use a childproof handle for my sons timeouts. When you let him out, say nothing. He alreadys know what he did is wrong. And talking about just usually fires them up more lol Good luck!

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answers from St. Louis on

instead of taking away, you need to be sure to "redirect". Hand him something else...before you try to get the no-no out of his hands.

also, learn to be more proactive in putting your stuff out of his reach.

& he's not a bad boy. What he's doing is normal, but I would seriously refrain from slapping him back! Instead, grab his hands & talk quietly with him. & most importantly, do not raise your voice or let him see how upset you are. You have to remain calm & collected when he escalates!

I also would like to recommend that you watch the "1-2-3 Magic" video. It will teach you how to discipline your child while maintaining your sanity!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that a swat on the hiney does not make a child a hitter or more angry. Sorry folks.

I suggest you find a parent group that is having love and logic parenting classes. It really helps you learn different techiniques to help the kids learn to make better choices.

BUT I also advise you to find a local mental health facility and ask for services for this young man. He may have some anger that he needs to work through but he also needs some evaluations done. All he has to do once he starts school is to hit one person and he could be out of school the rest of the year.

I say start a lot of evaluations now and see if anything turns up.

1 mom found this helpful
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