Toddler & Hitting

Updated on February 28, 2013
S.S. asks from Ravenna, OH
7 answers

My 17 month old little boy has turned into a hitter. He typically has a toy, playing like a good little guy, then proceeds to use that toy to hit his sisters (or the other children at the sitters!). We are trying to combat the hitting by redirecting him, or telling him NO with the terms "no hitting" or "be nice" while showing how to properly touch. I just got a text from the sitter that he has been in time out 3x already today for hitting; and I had to put him in timeout early this morning as he took one of my shoes and hit his 7 yr old sister with it!

Any suggestions from moms that have had this problem, and what solutions worked?

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answers from New York on

He'll grow out of it, I swear.

For right now, though, if he's hitting with a toy, take the toy away. Put it up high where he can see it but not reach it. And keep saying, over and over and over again, "gentle" or "touch nicely" (tell him what TO do, not what NOT to do). Ask the sitter to "put his toys in time out" every time he hits with them.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

"Don't hit" whack! Um, yeah, not a smart thing. I had a hitter and in addition to what you are doing with re-direct and removing from a situation (typically before a hit occured - we looked for triggers) we also incorporated a lot of activities that kept his hands busy - play dough, stickers, finger paints, texture books, etc.
Also, the book "hands are not for hitting" was extremely helpful. Read it everyday and demonstrate nice touches. When he is doing reinforcing good behavior to the same extent or more than the discipline for the bad, worked wonders. They want to please you and big sister and sitter. He'll learn. It takes time:)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I always tell my 3.5 year old son 'Hands are for hugging and helping, high fiving and fist bumping!" But i also tell him now if he's that mad and wants to hit - he can hit a pillow or himself....but not any person!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I disagree with hitting back as some are suggesting, whether or not you are hitting hard enough to hurt your child you are still teaching him to hit. You are using hitting as a tool to get what you want, that is EXACTLY the behavior you are trying to discourage in your child. It is not an effective method even if you achieve short term results. It also teaches your child that it is OK for bigger people to hit smaller people so in your child's mind it is only OK to hurt someone smaller and weaker than yourself. Toddlers often struggle with hitting, at 17 months old your child may still not realize that he is hurting anyone because he still thinks of it as a game. Using a firm voice to say NO! is an important first step. Make sure not to sound gentle or wishy-washy or even tired, young children respond to your tone more than your words. Putting toys in "time out" as another poster suggested is a GREAT idea! Also, giving hugs and extra attention to the child who was hit rather than the child who did the hitting is an effective way of teaching empathy and not unintentionally reinforcing hitting by giving the hitter attention for their bad behavior. After you stop the hitting, display empathy and affection for the victim of the hitting, then remove your son from the room and give him a timeout where he cannot play with others or even watch them play. Your son will outgrow this phase if you just keep teaching him that hitting others doesn't pay off. Best of luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i think you're handling it well. it just takes time, and some days it's going to be very frustrating.
he may be a little young for time-out, but if he's whacking his sister with a shoe, redirection is probably not enough.
he's a very small fellow, and this is a very common stage for pre-verbal littles.
empathize with your frazzled sitter, and encourage her to be consistent. calm, inexorable consistency is your best bet. this too shall pass.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

We don't have an issue with hitting, but I would approach this the same way we do other issues. I have a 3 phase approach: First infraction-Strongly say his name and indicate that the behaviour is unacceptable; second is a strong reminder and a warning where I start counting to 3 (I usually get to 2 before he says 'no, no, I'm done'; third is removal from the situation where he is sent screaming and kicking to his room. After about 5 min of screaming he is sufficiently calm (I can't hear him in his room) that he will come when called and snuggle and apologize for having been naughty. I always try to explain why his actions were incorrect, but this usually only sinks in AFTER the trip to his room. In public, he gets one max two whispered admonitions and then complete removal from the situation BEFORE it gets out of hand and potential for toddler fit arrives.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My daughter did the exact same thing at that age!! Often times she would hit when she got really excited about something. We just kept grabbing her hand/arm, putting it back down to her side, and saying "NO hitting." It eventually sunk in. She stopped hitting before she turned 2. Now, out of my 2 kids, my "hitter" is my cuddly kid, and has a very sweet nature. So, hopefully it's just a phase for your kid too :)

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