Toddler Hitting - Portland,OR

Updated on April 13, 2009
R.M. asks from Portland, OR
7 answers

My friend's 2 1/2 year old is into hitting. She has violent tantrums of hitting, kicking, and screaming. She also hits when she is not in a tantrum too. Any advice how to curtail this?

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answers from Medford on

Hi R.- My Grandaughter was hitting her Mom at 2 yrs old. I asked her to try putting her in her room with a gate up and telling her when she wanted to be nice she could come out instead of getting mad and reacting. She would get tired of being in her room and finally connected hitting to time alone in her room. It worked and she only hits now when she really mad and goes back to her room much less often. Happy Easter! Good Luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

First off is your friend open to your advise? She may get really defensive if you approach her on the matter unless she's an open mom (many of us are - I know my kids can be brats, but some moms just won't acknowledge). Be careful on how you go about this.

Hitting is usually an outburst due to lack of communication. Does she have the ability to clearly communicate or convey what she wants and needs? My 2 1/2 year old has a hard time talking, but we got some flash cards, expressive videos (Baby Einstein is good - so is, believe it or not, Wow Wow Wuzzby), puzzles, and coloring stuff (Crayola Pipsqueaks wash out of everything and totally rock!). We have taught her what one means (one marker at a time so choose carefully), what later means (we are making dinner now and will have it later), and so on. She is doing world's better and is communicating so much better. She still has her meltdowns though.

We deal with those by having her play in her room by herself. She doesn't like being by herself so she settles back down very quickly. If your friend has to physically put her there that is ok - it's not hurting her - it's really helping her. It's a coping technique my sons school taught us. We also very clearly tell her what went wrong and what we expect next time. We tell her it's not ok to hit because it hurts other people. So next time we want her to tell us that her brother took the car from her. A bit of tattling is a lot less hurtful than physical attacks.

Another useful game to teach about turn taking (another common culprit for outbursts is kids taking things) is to have your friend and her partner sit down with their daughter (and any other kids in the family). Take a non-prized possession and start by playing with it - have the other adult ask for a turn and make a big deal about handing over the item. Get her to interact and ask for a turn. Do it a few times a week and slowly upgrade to a prized item. Teach her that asking gets better results - whether from the other kid or from an adult.

I hope something here helps a little!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

It DOES happen --- ( having been involved with preschool for 40 + years) ---

What to do?? 2 suggestions: first - ask Mom what she wants you to do ( but she may laugh nervously and try to shrug it off) or second, if she is 'visiting' your house with her Mom- I'd suggest picking her up and saying ''' in my house we don't hit''' - and set her down by her mother -- if need be - just keep on putting her by her Mom ( and sadly- Mom needs to take her home when she's blowing a gasket---- hitting is something that is just TOOOOO negative --- you might remind Mom that when her treasure gets to kindergarden --- Mom will get phone call after phone call--- schools have a completely inflexible rule ( as they MUST) that hitting is never allowed - no excuse- no exception-- better to solve the problem now before the little girl gets the '''reputation'' of being an out of control bully -- in Kindergarten---- it happens - and it's awful for child and family.

Mom may get quite frustrated with you - but she needs you
to be a mirror for the fact that life does NOT accept hitting.

Good luck
and blessings,
J. - aka Old Mom

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Staying calm, and without emotion, pick her up gently and remove her from the situation. Put her in a part of the room that has no one in it, you may have to put her in an adjacent room--say dining room, kitchen. If she is in the middle of a tantrum, hold her calmly and wait until she is calm and say say, you may not..... She may at first erupt with more emotion. Never mind, keep holding her. She will eventually calm down. When she is calm, look her in the eye and say, "you may not...."

Keep doing this every time she misbehaves. Every time. Stay calm and unemotional. Do it on a weekend when you have help from your husband. It will be hard at first, but keep at it. It will ease.

Whatever you do keep at it. Do it for at least 3 or 4 weeks. Stay calm and committed. If you think you are going crazy go outside and scream, or to a neighbor's.

You are not alone. This is a normal phase. It will pass, but you need to help her through it.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richland on

She may be trying to communicate and doesn't know how to do it properly. Is her home life OK?

All(including the child) of you sit down and watch an episode of Super Nanny. The naughty stool/corner/timeout thing works, if you stick to it. This can be done anywhere, anytime, & it doesn't matter who is around.

Hitting is unacceptable behavior and your friend won't be welcomed anywhere if she can't get her daughter under control or figure out why she is hitting.



answers from Seattle on

Well...That depends on whether you're asking for your friend or for you.

While it's a totally normal "phase"...if it's not nipped it becomes a an actual pattern of behavior. Nipping, incedentally, can take days, weeks, or MONTHS of consistent teaching. How long it takes depends more on the child and their own personality and current struggles and challenges, then on either parent or method. UNLESS there are inconsistent reactions.

Two of our very good friends we barely get to see anymore...because they think their son hitting is "cute"...they encourage it. (By laughing, turning it into a wrestiling match, or using it as an emotional barometer "oh are you bored with that, honey?" "oh, you've had a hard day, haven't you? Let's do "x" fun thing", or by blaming other kids who irritated him. Maybe 1 out of 5 or 10 episodes of hitting has negative consequences.


WE though, are not his parents, so even though half the time his hits other kids because he wants his parents attention for himself (because at this point, none of us are willing to deal with it.) Johnny hits our kids, we leave. Which is more positive reinforcement. But quite frankly, I'm not using my kid as a punching bag.

In our family,

you hit: you don't get what you want
you throw a fit: you don't get what you want
you whine: you don't get what you want

;) And ALL of these get timeouts. Scooped up and on timeout. For our son, and for us, this has worked. All families are different.

Dealing with tantrums and hitting is never fun, but at least when it's your own child, you have the right to teach them. My sincere hope, is that your friends, are willing to teach their own child. Otherwise it can make continuing to stay friends very difficult.



answers from Portland on

Make sure she gets enough sleep and eats well. Less sugar the better. No violent TV shows and no fighting in home life. Don't give any attention-ignore if you have to. It helps to have two parents backing each other up as to discipline.
Good Luck.
~Mother of many

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