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Toddlers hitting – what can we do to curb the behaviour?

I read an article years ago that is as relevant now as it was then. The article was about a pretty little girl who had started hitting other children, and it got me thinking a lot about toddlers hitting and disciple overall.

I remember when my two both went through this phase, this was many years ago now. But just like any other toddler it happened. Toddlers hitting is not an easy thing to deal with, but it’s also critical to get it right. How you deal with it can shape their reactions to not quite getting their own way.

As parents, we deal with things the best way we know how. This can sometimes lead to us being frustrated about how our children treat others. As well as exacerbating our fears that the behaviour will escalate. Many times this fear and frustration can manifest into shouting and sometimes even causes parents to lash out and discipline their children harshly.

By understanding that a critical part of being a toddler is starting to understand self control as they get that little bit bigger we can apply the right approach and learn how to manage the behaviours in a more constructive manner.

Why do toddlers hit?

There are a variety of reasons why toddlers hitting other children and even adults can occur. The biggest one that I have come across is lack of effective verbal communication. Toddlers don’t have the words to express their feelings or make requests and they resort to using their body to express themselves.

Many times the reaction of toddlers hitting is done where kids feel that they are standing up for what they felt was right. Someone took my toy, so I am going to hit or push to get it back.

Occasionally, children can bite in the same circumstances. We mothers know how embarrassing and painful that can be, both for us, and for the child concerned. Nobody likes to be somebody’s starter.

Sharing properly; mine Mine MINE

My kids are fiercely independent, just like the girl in the article I mentioned earlier. They don’t like me setting their boundaries. They particularly don’t like me sticking to them.

Tantrums are still possible now when we are tired and worn out. And that’s not just me.

I love their independence, it’s what makes them my children as I am never short of an opinion or two. I guess we are here to teach them that hitting because we feel something is mine and we must have it back, isn’t how it works.

Overcoming Toddlers Hitting

I laughed when it first happened too; it was two-year old toddler handbags after all…

However, I’d have stopped laughing pretty fast if it happened more and more – and you start to be the one people refer to as “the mother whose kid is a bit of a thug….”

By establishing clear boundaries and calmly letting them know that hitting was unacceptable

We managed to stop the hitting by:

  • Establishing eye contact immediately, getting down to their level, and explaining it wasn’t appropriate behaviour. Often accompanied by a calming hand on the shoulders
  • Confiscating the offending item causing the confrontation,explaining clearly why it was being removed and when it was going to come back
  • Employing “timeouts” at home – the house rule being that “we don’t hit”
  • Using stickers and reward charts focusing on improving this behaviour, for example no fighting / pushing or kind hands (when the child is old enough, typically over the age of two)
  • Picking the child up and moving them away to a safe place out of the situation and ignoring them until they calm down. This is potentially a good tactic to use if the child is hitting the carer or parent.

I’m not saying these are the right and the only way to tackle this; its just worked for us. If you’re looking for more advice we hope these posts both from KiddyCharts and other bloggers’ help you out.

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How have you curbed hitting in your children? Any other tips to add? Please do comment below or visit us on Facebook.

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Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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