Parents understand that very young children can’t communicate with words. Many young children, however, will use other means to try to get their needs across. This may mean crying, throwing a temper tantrum and even hitting. While you may expect some of this behavior from a toddler, what do you do when the hitting continues much longer than you expected?
As stated above, until your child learns to speak they will use whatever means they have to communicate. Some children will hit when they’re told no, for instance. Even though this behavior might be common, you probably don’t want your toddler to continue hitting, especially out of anger.
Be a good role model for your child. The topic of spanking is one that is volatile, to say the least. However, some parents still use this as a form of discipline. If your child does something you don’t like and you spank them, they may think hitting is alright.
Explain to your child that they should never hit out of anger. This doesn’t mean they can’t get angry, because anger is an emotion; it simply means they cannot hit someone else while they’re angry. Tell them hitting isn’t nice and when someone is angry they may hit harder than they think they are. Hitting when you’re angry can cause serious injuries you may not intend. Of course, you’ll want to use words they will understand.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Help them express their anger in simple words such as “me mad” or “want it.” Find books which are at your child’s level which address anger or hitting. Even if they can only use one or two words at a time, help them realize that using words instead of hitting will enable you to find a solution to their problem.
Time outs may be another option if your child is hitting you. Tell them you will not accept being hit and if they do they will have to sit down, think about what they’ve done and they will not be allowed to play or watch television. Place a time out chair in a corner of the room you’re in, facing a wall or corner and put your child in it if they hit you or anyone else. Tell them they are allowed to get up when they can apologize for hitting you and mean it.
They can also put themselves in a “time out” of sorts by walking away when they are angry. If they feel they are getting angry, instead of hitting they may walk away from you until they don’t feel angry anymore. When they’re over being angry, then they can come back and talk with you to let you know why they were angry.
The first time they hit you, hold their hands so they can’t hit again. You can also turn them away from you, cross their arms in front of them and hold them in your arms. Be sure to explain to them that hitting isn’t nice and reinforce that you love them but you don’t like it when they hit you or anyone else.
No one wants their child to hit them or anyone else. They’re afraid the child will become a bully. By teaching your child to learn how to express anger in non-violent ways, they will soon be able to communicate their feelings without them or anyone else being hurt.
CDI Articles on Raising Toddlers
Books on Raising Toddlers