You everyFriend's Child Hitting Me and My Child

Updated on September 05, 2014
O.V. asks from New York, NY
22 answers

Hi. I am a first time mom to a 2 year old boy. I made a friend last year whose daughter is same age as my son. I really like my new friend and her family and we have done a lot of things together with kids - classes, neighborhood new moms group, etc. In the past few months my friend was busy with work, travelling a lot wit her family, moving to a new place so I haven't seen her much. When I saw her again recently she told me her daughter started hitting people and children and that she has read a lot about it and it's just a stage. She said they are trying not to give this issue a lot of attention, not to say "no" to her but to model positive behavior. I have seen them 3 times in the past 2 weeks and every time the daughter hit me at least few times and pushed, hit, or scratched my son. Granted she is very small but it's still very unpleasant and yesterday she actually scretched my son right by his eye. It also seems that the parents are trying to ignore her behavior and in many instances won't say anything to her or to us. It also seems that my friend is also very sensative to this issue. But I also want to make sure I model an appopriate behavior to my son so he knows hitting and getting hit is not okey. So, I am thinking when she tries to act out next time, I should put my hand in front of me or my son and say: "please no hitting. we don't hit friends." and then if she actually manages to hit my son, comfort him and tell him: "I am sorry she hit you. that must have hurt. lets say no hitting to her." My son has never hit anyone (at least yet) and he will say things like "no hitting" and "gentle" to her but she doesn't seem to understand (the family speaks Spanish). Or shoudl I talk to my friend about this? I don't want an akward conversation. Thank you!!!

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So What Happened?

Thank you, everyone, for great ideas. Next time she tries to hit or hits, I will take her hand and say very calmly and clearly in both Spanish and then English: "No hitting... (her name). Hitting is not nice" so both her and my son can understand. After this happens, I will tell a mom we have something for them and give them a book "Hands are not for hitting" in Spanish that I just ordered online. If this repeats, I will say that we need to leave and later suggest to a friend that we meet for a while without kids until this stage lasts. I will also explain to her that I am trying to teach my son that hitting and being hit is not acceptable. I honestly think the mom is a nice person but because she is so nice, she can't discipline her child and set up limits and the child is doing whatever she wants to while the mom believes this is just the stage. It's sad because the girl hits her dad and cousins and she will also get a baby sister in a few months so I think they don't realize what a huge issue they will have on their hands then.

Featured Answers


answers from Grand Forks on

Two year olds hitting is very normal. I usually deal with it with a stern "No thank you! No hitting! We use gentle hands." I will correct any child I see hitting in the same way. I do not ask the parents for permission.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My granddaughter is just 2. She has tried hitting a couple of times, throwing. She gets put on the couch. Let me tell you, it's like I put her on a bed of nails. Sobbing. She is there for maybe 10 sec and says sorry and hugs. That has only happened twice. I just start to count or give her "the look." She is a very sweet little one but needs to know there are some things that are not acceptable. End of discussion
If this kid acts up and mother ignores, time to leave.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

Yes, hitting at 2 years old is "Normal" but it means she will need to be taught NOT to hit.

When she hits you, grab both of her hands, you look right at her face, make sure she is looking at you and you say, "NO hitting." short and stern.

And then you pet her hands and say, "Soft and gentle touches", you smile and say this in a soft voice.

I promise she will catch on.
When she does not hit while excited or if she is angry or frustrated, tell her, nice touches! Give her a big smile! That is the reward she will enjoy.

She is lacking words and understanding that hitting hurts and is not a good behavior. She is only 2. And only for a short time has begun to understand language. So telling her once or twice will not be enough, it will take at least a dozen times at this age AND she will have to be able to put it into context with her physical responses.

Everyone will need to keep an eye on her and catch her as she is about to hit. Again doing as above.

And then your friend needs to play a game about "soft and gentle touches" every once in a while.

Soft and gentle touches with teddy bear. Soft touches with the dog. Soft touches with daddy. And then compliment her when she does the soft and gentle touches.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If I were you, Iwould warn my friend that you and your child are not going to tolerate that behavior any longer. Then, the next time you are together, I suggest doing exactly what Laurie A said. You MUST look and sound stern - practice in the bathroom mirror if you have to. Ignoring hitting will NOT stop it - he/she is not doing it for attention, so ignoring it won't work. That would be akin to "if you don't object, then you agree."

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

First time she hits anyone, make sure she's told 'No!" loudly.
Second time her Mom needs to (get off her butt and) take her hands and hold her till she calms down.
If there's a third time - visit/playtime is over - her Mom needs to pack her up and go home - every single time.
Once child gets the message that there is no fun time if she acts like this, she will stop.
If this happens again (you said it's already happened a few times) - see your friend without the kids.
Each of you get your own baby sitters and enjoy a child free outing.
Don't get the kids together for a long time so she has a chance to get over her phase.
If it happens again after a long break - repeat the process.

What I told my son is
if a person hits you, tell him to stop once loudly.
If he does it again, tell him to stop again.
If he does it a third time (and he's at school) - tell a teacher and be sure you let the teacher know if she doesn't stop it you will (this gives her a chance to intervene and anything that happens after that is her fault).
If it happens any more I tell my son to punch the other kid and we'll sort it out in the principals office.
My kid should never HAVE to be someones punching bag.
He is allowed to defend himself.
It also helps he's a black belt.

To date - he's only had to give the 2nd warning once (in elementary school).
He told the kid "Look - you need to stop. Because if I have to stop you, you aren't going to like it.".

At the toddler level - I told him never to be the first to hit/kick/bother anyone.
But if anyone hits/kicks/bothers him, if the other won't stop and an adult won't step in, then push the other kid flat on his/her behind.
When the other kid KNOWS what it feels like - they stop and the 'phase' is over a heck of a lot quicker than waiting for a parent to figure it out.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

If a child hits me I will tell them "NO you don't hit me". If a child hits my child I will tell them "NO you don't hit Billy". If the parent won't parent, I will.

Why would you have to say "please no hitting". Why not "do not hit."? I don't get this "we don't say no to our kids"? What is modeling positive behavior? Ignoring the problem? Seriously? I don't think so.

I would discuss this with her mother. I would tell her that you loving visiting with them but if Dolly continues to hit, scratch and be a terror, you and your son, won't be able to visit anymore. Explain that while she wants to use that type of parenting style, your job is to protect your child and that type of behavior is not allowed in your home. I'm not sure what else needs to be said.

No is not a bad word!!!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i understand the mom's POV, but she's not being helpful if she's expecting the world at large to be tolerant of her little ghoul. i think your strategy is a good one. add this to it- if after preventing the little girl from hitting either of you she persists, pick up your toddler and tell your friend and her child 'sorry, it doesn't look as if thunderella wants to play nicely today, so we're going home.' no anger, no sulking, just a firm and clear statement of fact.
if it keeps happening, then yes, have a conversation with your friend about your need to protect your child. if it's awkward, it's on her.
but i'll bet you'll only have to leave once or twice for her to catch on.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Yes it's a phase but she needs to say "no" AND model good behavior. Not sure where she's doing her "reading" but she's getting bad information. I would handle it exactly like you are planning to.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Oh I'm so over this not saying NO to a child. I've cared for children for what seems like forever. I've come dealt with so many parents who won't say NO. Well I say NO, and guess what the child 9 times out of 10 stops hitting while in my care. But as soon as mom or dad show up the little one will start hitting the parents and other children. Also I never say "We don't hit our friends" But I do say "We don't hit People". Next time you or your child are hit. Just in a kind but firm tone say. "We don't hit people, that's not nice" and let it go from there.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Take her hands in yours and say loudly and clearly ( in whatever language she understands):

"No hitting. Hitting hurts."

Her mother should be doing just that. If she won't? I would.
Especially if my child was getting the brunt of it.
Her mother is a coward. She needs to step it up, IMO.

What's this about "we don't hit friends"? We also don't hit NON friends, right? That's just odd.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would say "hitting is not allowed at our house" the friend needs to get over her self and start implementing rules or her child will be completely out of control. it is a phase right now and it will then become the norm to her as to how to get her way if they don't curb it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Not everything can be taught without a no. Try "it is not nice to hit people" and then redirecting the play. If that doesn't work, consider taking yourself or your child out of the situation for a while so she gets the reinforcement of "if I hit, they don't play with me." Hitting is a common phase, yes. And it is easy to feel insecure about your parenting. But try talking to her because there is a point at which your son needs to be protected from being a toddler punching bag.

ETA: You can also tell her that you appreciate that she is trying to use the tools she read about, but not all kids are the same and not all kids "get the memo" about how they are supposed to react. Part of parenting is reading advice...and then choosing what works for YOUR particular kid. Their choice doesn't seem to be working all that well for their spirited child. Has she considered anything else?

I have a child who hates to hear "no" but not everything can be said/done without being negative. She has to get over it because the world is not going to placate her and she better learn it from me before society teaches it to her. I might start a conversation with, "I noticed she is still hitting. Have you considered...?"

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

This is how I would handle this.

" name if friend", you know I love you, but if your daughter hits me or my child again and you don't discipline her, I will.

Then follow through. And no I don't mean physical discipline, but I have no problem telling kids in my home "no", and/or putting them in a corner for a time out. If my "friend" has a problem with that, than they are more than welcome to leave and not return. I do not tolerate disrespect from anyone, especially in my own home and someone allowing their child to hit people in my home is disrespectful of me.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

In my book, hitting other people (or kicking or saying nasty things) is a hill worth dying on. While children may go through phases, if they are not taught that behavior which hurts others is wrong, they won't learn that really important lesson and they'll come back to it sure enough.

Bottom line, you need to explain to your friend that her child cannot continue to hurt you and your son, and when it occurs, you are going to intervene if the mother doesn't. It doesn't have to be hostile or nasty, just firm. Telling her 'Stop hitting. We do not hurt people" in a firm tone is setting a boundary, not being unkind. I liked the idea of giving the child a couple warnings and then ending the interaction for that day if it continues. Good luck... I have a hitter, and it has gotten better over time, but slowly. Your friend needs to find a way to make sure a 'phase' doesn't become a habit, because it will make life harder for her daughter in the future.

ETA: Laurie A's idea is great! Go with it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ignoring a bad behavior such as a tantrum is one thing, but if my child hits or is hurting themselves or others I take action. If another child is hurting my child, I also will take action if the parent does not. We are their PARENTS not their friend.

Say something if your friend does not like it, get a new one.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

It isn't enough to just model behavior to a 2 year old. They are not perceptive enough to come to rational conclusions without guidance. She absolutely must say No, intervene and redirect. Your plan to do those things are correct. If your friend gets upset about it, then you may end up letting go of the friendship. It happens, but you can't let her lack of parenting cause harm to your child.

Trust me when I say this is probably going to be one of the least awkward situations you'll have with another mom as your child grows. This is a good practice scenario for growing your nerve.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I taught my kid never to hit first, but that if someone hit her, to hit back, and hit hard. Getting hit back is the quickest way to learn not to hit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes - "please no hitting, we don't hit friends" is fine, and better than no, because it tells her what not to do. Suggest it to your friend as well, because it's only a stage if you STOP the behavior. If no one teaches her not to, it'll become a behavior.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Awkward conversations are sometimes necessary. Is your priority to only have easy conversations or to protect your son. I suggest if you accept this child hitting you and your son you are teaching your son it is OK to hit. I suggest he will begin hitting.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

When did it become a bad thing to tell our children "no"? I think we might be able to trace the decline of society to that date.


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answers from Oklahoma City on

A child hits me and I get to respond how I want. If I wanted to yell at him that would be my choice. It might also teach kiddo that his actions are wrong instead of not telling him anything.

By not saying "our hands stay to our sides" she's not teaching what to do with his hands. So many times people think positive reinforcement is ignoring the behavior. It's more than that. It's saying something positive while teaching the child to not do that.

I wouldn't allow this behavior. You are right, it's teaching your son it's okay by not saying anything.

If she's going to be one of those that won't forgive you if you go against what they're doing then I'd stay away for a long time. It's going to take forever for that child to learn anything.

I'd let her know that you don't want your child learning hitting is okay and this is how you're going to handle the situation when her son hits your child.

"Honey, hands stay at your side" with your hand touching his hands and showing him where they go, gently touches.

He needs to keep his hands off other people. And if she didn't like that she could choose to keep her little hitter at home.

There are good words to use in teaching. Telling a child what to do instead is better than telling them NO!

Saying these phrases teaches them

Hands stay off other people

Our hands stay to our sides

We touch our friends with gentle hands

Hands stay down

Like feet stay on the floor instead of telling a kid to get off the furniture bouncing. You are telling them what they can do instead. Feet go on the floor covers a lot more territory than telling them each and every thing they can't do.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from unknown city on

Hi O., I just want to say, that I was totally heart broken that the parents are just completely ignoring this. Although this may be a stage it can also be a frustration which may last quite long because she is not able to communicate in the way she would like. My son also went through the hitting stage. I feel that ignoring her or not saying at the least very neutral "no hitting" to her will only escalate this. I think you sound like a very kind friend who is trying to honor your friend's wishes. But, really you need to defend your child and your defense also teaches your child how to handle things in the right way.

I am glad you will handle this the right way. The girl needs to learn from someone.

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