It’s one of all parent’s biggest fears. You’re at the park, on a play date or you receive that dreaded phone call from the school; your child has hit someone. Your mind instantly starts running; “Is the other kid okay?”, “How mad is their parent going to be?”, “Crap. Is this starting already?” Read below to find out how to handle a toddler hitting.
You never want to be the parent with the kid that hits. It’s embarrassing and it can make you feel like you’re just not doing things right when it comes to the parenting game. But guess what? All kids are going to do it at some point or another. The fact that your kiddo hauled off and knocked their brother’s socks off or thumped a kid on the head at the park does not make you a bad parent. What matters is how you deal with it after the fact.
It is completely and entirely normal for a kid to react to a stressful situation by hitting. They’re young, their emotions are new and raw to them and they may not know or understand how to deal with them just yet. Their natural and primal instinct is to strike back where it hurts. It’s also natural for you to be mortified and not really know how to handle it. But the important thing is that you do handle it.
Here are a few ways to do that:
6 Tips To Handle A Toddler Hitting
1. Don’t Hit Back a Toddler Hitting
While a lot of parents still turn to spankings or physical punishments, now is not the time. Your child has just hit someone. The worst thing you could possibly do is hit them as a punishment.
All this will do is instill in them that hitting is a way to get your point across, which is exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to teach a hitting toddler.
2. Try To Catch Your Toddler Hitting Before It Happens
You know your kid better than anyone else in the world. Therefore, you know what triggers them and what makes them angry or upset. Moreover, you generally know what their reaction will be.
If you’re on a playdate or visiting the park you’re naturally keeping an eye on your kiddo anyway. If you happen to notice that they’re getting agitated or not getting along well with another child, do your best to monitor the situation closely. This would avoid your toddler hitting other children.
Don’t necessarily intervene until you have to. Give your child an opportunity to work this out on their own. But if you notice their fists clenched, their faces turning red or their little hands shaking step in before they get the chance to lay one on the other kid.
3. Figure Out Why Your Toddler Hitting and Reacting This Way
While it would be nice to always catch a sucker punch before it lands, it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes you’re not always around, they could be at school or with a babysitter or family member, and sometimes kids are just quick!
My daughter can throw a punch in the blink of an eye. No matter what you do you just can’t always catch it before they’ve fattened a kid’s lip. It happens. But it’s important to still address the situation.
It’d be easy to just snatch your kid up and haul your butt out of there before you’re forced to confront all of those less than friendly moms at the local park.
Do you know the ones with the organic apple juice and homemade fruit roll-ups in their Louis Vuitton diaper bag that costs more than your car? The last thing you want to do is face the wrath of the sancti-mommies.
But this is your kid and you’re their parent. While it’s still fresh in their minds, figure out why this happened. Maybe the other kid was picking on them or maybe they’re just having a bad day.
Either way, generally speaking, kids don’t just go around hitting other kids without a reason. By acknowledging their problem you’re letting them know that while what they did wasn’t okay.
However, what they’re feeling still matters to you and you. Moreover, want to help them through this so hopefully, you can avoid your toddler hitting next time (and still be able to show your faces in the park).
4. Care For The Other Child
Hopefully, your toddler hitting victim has a parent or guardian somewhere close by. But even so, check on them anyway. By doing so you’re showing your child that they hurt someone without directly placing the blame at their feet.
When you lecture your kid about all the harm they’ve done you’re only making them feel worse in a situation where they’re obviously already feeling pretty bad.
(I mean they hit someone, right?) But if you allow them to calm down then walk them over to the other child. While you check on them, your toddler hitting will see what caused and will only see a model in you by checking on them and caring for them.
This gives your toddler an opportunity to see the consequences of its actions without you having to yell it at them.
5. Remove Your Child From The Situation
This one is a given. Your kid hit someone, and until they’ve calmed down and you’ve had the opportunity to discuss the situation with them they don’t need to be around other kids.
But you don’t have to be mean about it. Instead of saying “You hit that kid, you’re in trouble, you have to sit down, and now you can’t play.”
Try something a little more forgiving. They’re already having a rough time. So, instead say something like, “It seems like things were getting to be a bit too much for you over there. Let’s come over here and sit down a while so you can calm down and we can talk about this.”
Aggravating them more will only make the situation worse.
6. Teach Them Alternatives To Hitting
Now is a perfect opportunity to explain to your toddler hitting in different ways of dealing with stressful situations or anger.
Things like walking away from whatever triggered them, talking through the problem with the other person or people involved, or finding an adult to help resolve the issue.
Telling them that hitting is bad and wrong and mean will only go so far. Now they know that they can’t, or shouldn’t, hit but what are they supposed to do instead? This is such a crucial time in their lives to start learning problem-solving techniques and ways to deal with their anger and frustration.
Teach them a few self-calming techniques such as counting if they’re old enough or even taking big, deep breaths. Kids are smarter than you think, teach them and they will learn.
Hitting is just one of those crappy things that happen as a parent, but it’s not the end of the world. Your kid is still a good kid and you’re still a good parent. Even that mom with her thousand-dollar bag isn’t perfect and neither is her kid. Deal with it accordingly and move on.
Hope this article helps you how to handle your toddler hitting. And if you find this article helpful, our posts on 10 Bad Parenting in 2021: Tips To Avoid Them, 5 Tips for Positive Communication With Children, and Respect Boundaries – Stop Forcing Your Kid To Hug People! would be interesting.
My name is Andrea Thompson and I’m a home based freelance writer. I’m 23 years old, married to my best friend, and mother to a wonderfully independent and opinionated 3 year old girl and step-mother to a sweet seven year old boy. I live in a tiny, little town in Kentucky, where I spend my free time fishing with my kids.
Writing has always been my passion, which I followed through high school, and for a while in college. Life happened, and once I discovered we were pregnant, I switched directions; opting for the healthcare industry because of the stability.
Finally, years later, I was in a place where I could leave the day job that never truly made me happy, and pursue my dreams. I’ve built, and am still building, my writing career from scratch. But, I’m passionate and I’m good at what I do. And, in the end, I can prove to my daughter that she can do anything she wants with this life.