Why Do Toddlers Hit?
Children this age may hit for many reasons. Discovering why your toddler hits may help you eliminate this behavior. Toddlers may hit:
- Out of Frustration: Your child may hit when he/she begins to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes young children are more likely to become frustrated and hit when they are too tired or hungry.
- Because They Don’t Know How Else to Express Their Feelings: Toddlers are little people with big emotions. When they want a toy, they really want a toy. When they don’t get what they want, it can feel like the world is coming to an end! To add to all this, many toddlers don’t fully have the verbal skills needed to express through talking their anger or disappointment.
- Because It’s Fun: Toddlers love learning cause and effect. Many toddlers enjoy hitting others because of the reactions they get from doing it.
- Because They’ve Been Hit: Toddlers often model behavior they’ve been exposed to.
How Can You Stop A Toddler From Hitting?
The cure to stopping a young child’s habit of hitting is often related to the reason the toddler hits in the first place. Here are some tips to end the hitting:
- Keep Your Toddler on a Routine that Prevents Him/Her from Becoming Overly Tired or Hungry: Some toddlers simply have problems with self control if their basic needs are not being met, so make sure your tot is well rested and fed.
- Try to Stop it in the Moment: If you see your child about to hit, stop it right then and there. Help your toddler do something else acceptable with his/her hands like giving a “high five” or some “dap”.
- Help Your Child Solve His/Her Problem Another Way: If your toddler is feeling frustrated or unable to fully express his/her emotions, step in and help your toddler see other ways to solve a problem besides getting physically aggressive. If a toddler is fighting over a toy, maybe let one child have it for a small amount of time and then let the next child play with it. If your child is sad or disappointed, acknowledge your little one’s feelings and talk about them. This will help your toddler learn the vocabulary needed to express himself/herself in the future.
- Stay Calm and Firm When Your Toddler Hits: Negative attention is still attention. If your toddler hits, give a firm “No, we don’t hit”. Then turn your attention to the victim. If your toddler is old enough for a time out you can try that as well, but do not yell or get overly angry at your little one or he/she may be inclined to do it again.
- Acknowledge Soft Behavior: The time for going over the top is when your toddler is being soft. Make sure to acknowledge all the times your little one is soft and gentle with hands. At this age, children crave approval from mom and dad, so give them as much as you can!
- Spend Extra Quality Time Together: When children are at their worst, they usually need some extra quality time with mom or dad. Try to find time to spend with your toddler to read books, build blocks, go on a nature walk, or whatever you two like doing. When your toddler gets lots of positive attention s/he may not find the negative attention as appealing.
- Protect Your Toddler From Being Hit: Even if you don’t spank, your child may be getting hit by other children at daycare or playgroup. Do what you can to prevent your child from getting hit because children who get hit are more likely to hit.