Advertisement

My Toddler Keeps Hitting Me, What Should I Do?

A cute preschool age girl looks off into the distance with a thoughtful and dreamlike expression while coloring and playing at home. Creativity, learning, curiosity and homeschooling concepts.
A cute preschool age girl looks off into the distance with a thoughtful and dreamlike expression while coloring and playing at home. Creativity, learning, curiosity and homeschooling concepts. Fly View Productions via Getty Images

The time has finally come where your infant has become a full-fledged toddler with their own opinions and little personality. But, although most of the time they’re extremely entertaining and hilarious, they’ve just discovered they can hit you.

And you know what, I’m not ashamed to say it actually hurts when they hit! Those little hands can do some damage.

So, what are you meant to do? Why have they suddenly started hitting?

Why is my toddler hitting me?

Well, we spoke to Rachel Melville-Thomas, Child Psychotherapist and spokesperson for the Association of Child Psychotherapists to understand what exactly is going on in their little brains.

By the age of two, toddlers have better motor control than they once did.  Rachel explains that toddler brains are gut driven, impulsive and too often put strong feelings straight into action.

She says because of this, toddlers often communicate by “getting under your skin” which in turn can make us feel angry too.

Helene Malyutina, CEO and co-founder of Fams, a parenting app, explained: “For toddlers it is usually a way to express their disagreement, for they are quite immature to hold bubbling emotions and solve conflicts with words.

“So it’s the parent’s task to help them focus on what’s happened instead of who offended whom.”

What do you do to stop them?

Rachel advises that you should first get down to your toddler’s eye level, take both hands firmly and say “no” or “ah-ah-ah!”.

She believes that short sharp commands are much better than long wordy sentences. Then try to guess or interpret what they want, “You wanted that truck?” and clearly say the rule “No hitting”.

“Sometimes you will need to say ‘Ouch! That hurt me’ to show that there is pain caused. You might want to say ‘use your words not your hands’.

“It often helps to use big facial expressions – frowning to echo their frustration, and a calm, even face to announce what isn’t acceptable. Later when they are calmer, you can empathise about how hard it is to wait, or share with others. Understanding their feelings is a great pathway to stopping the hitting,” she says.

Even putting them down if you’re holding them when they hit you can be a meaningful move, as they can see their hitting is not acceptable and you were unhappy, so you placed them down.

If you repeat this every time they hit, eventually they do begin to understand that hitting is not the way to get to the end goal.

Lastly, she says you should never retaliate with a smack or bite back as that is joining with their violent feelings.

If it does get too much, make sure they are safe and take a breath and step away from them for 30 seconds or hand over to another adult.

Related...