When Your Toddler Hits

Toddlers hit out of frustration, anger, or for mere entertainment. What should a parent do? Sometimes the solution is simply to distract your child with a different activity. But if the problem persists and you feel like discipline is necessary, we recommend that you take consistent, firm action. Keep in mind that a firm approach doesn't require harshness.

Immediately set your child down on the floor, with a firm statement like, "Be gentle" and step back to avoid getting hit again. Don't display anger but be deliberate and firm. Your child needs to learn that hitting doesn't work. She can't stay in your arms or on your lap. If she hits you will remove her from that place immediately.

But that's not the end. The next thing your child does is come to you for a hug. This is the precursor to the Positive Conclusion you will use later. "Are you ready to get up. Come over and give me a hug. Show me what gentle is." Allow the child to give a hug or stroke your arm with her hand in a gentle way. Praise her for her gentleness.

When you set your son down after hitting, he may have a temper tantrum. If you're in a situation that allows, the best thing is to ignore him until he's calmed down and then encourage him to come back for a reuniting time.

Immediate, consistent, temporary separation like this followed by a Positive Conclusion will discourage the hitting and replace it with something else. A careful balance is needed here between a firm approach and a loving relationship.

Children who can't yet talk or communicate well, often get frustrated and act out with violence. Don't just ignore it. While you're teaching communication skills, also teach limits on hitting, biting, pushing, and other forms of physical meanness.

To learn more about parenting toddlers, consider our newest eBook Toddlers on the Move.

We’d love to hear ways you've been able to communicate love and limits to your toddler.

Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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  1. For single parents one thing to remember is if you have to pick your child up to sit him down, do it with the toddler's back to you. It can be confusing for the child to be picked up and carried in your arms.

    For single moms it will be easier to follow through when your child's back is to you. Many times single moms feel guilty about the parenting alone thing. Or perhaps you are having a bad day and feel the need for a hug for yourself but while you are in the process of correction is not the time.

    Parenting a toddler alone is hard to do but with prayer, patience and following Joanne's suggestions you'll be amazed at what can be accomplished in a short amount of time.