Unfortunately, some parents can’t escape the terrible toddler hitting stage – leaving them questions of “why is my toddler hitting me?,” “am I a good parent?”. When a toddler hits you, it’s important to remember that this behavior can be deterred – so long as you approach it with an open mind.
Toddlers hit for many reasons. It comes down to self-expression, and when a frustrated toddler lacks the capability or method to express how they feel – they might resort to hitting. Hitting is a behavior either taught or seen, meaning you might not necessarily hit your child – but they’ve either been hit before or seen it elsewhere.
You can overcome this dreadful hitting stage by implementing a personal approach, avoiding poor behavior, and installing repetition. Remember that when your toddler hits you, it’s never out of spite. They’re simply physically “expressing themselves” in an attempt to let you know something.
Step 1: Remain Calm – It’s Never Personal
The term “calm parenting” seems to be more commonly used throughout society – and for a good reason. The next time your toddler hits you, it’s important to remain calm.
Unlike adults, where we do things with intention, toddlers never aim to hit you out of personal reasons. They’re only replicating an action that they’ve experienced or seen before. And it’s throughout that knowledge where we can begin to approach the issue of hitting calmly.
Remember to breathe. Deep breathing is a form of stress management, and by breathing deeply during such a situation – you’re less likely to react poorly.
Avoid yelling. Try to refrain from immediately yelling at your child, and spurting out 101 reasons why their actions make them a naughty child. Instead, calmly address the situation using an empathetic or monotone voice.
Never hit them back. If your initial reaction is to hit your toddler back after they’ve hit you, I encourage you to take a strong step back. I believe you should never hit a child, especially a toddler.
Toddlers fail to understand emotions yet, and when they struggle to find ways to express themselves – they’ll do anything in their power to let you know how they feel. Remember, their comprehension levels are smaller (compared to us,) and they need us to guide them through good and bad behavior.
Step 2: Speak to Your Toddler – And Begin to Address
Crouch down to your toddlers level, and begin to address your child. Calmly let her/him know that you recognize they’re frustrated, and you’re here to listen to them.
Now I know… most people probably weren’t brought up like this. I wasn’t. When I acted poorly to my parents, they used to smack me or put me into a time-out corner for what felt like hours on end.
But I promise; Instead of yelling at your child and throwing them into their room to “think about their actions,” do the complete opposite and you’ll notice a change.
By addressing your child through a personal level, over time they’ll realize there are other forms of communication to express themselves.
Here are some things you can say to your child after they’ve hit you:
- “I know you’re upset, but hitting doesn’t do any good. Why don’t you cuddle me and let me know how you feel?”
- “*Insert name,* I recognize that you’re feeling frustrated. Hitting me isn’t the right form of expression. Instead, let me know how you’re feeling so we can combat this emotion together.”
- “I’m sorry you feel the need to hit. I recognize your emotions and I want you to know that I’m listening. In the future, please don’t hit me and talk to me instead.”
- “I want you to know that I hear you. I’m doing my best, and I ask you to avoid hitting me- because communicating with me instead is the proper solution.”
Start communicating with your toddler as early on – even if they don’t understand what you’re saying because one day they will.
The goal is to install proper emotional and behavioral coping methods while they’re young – so by the time they reach school-age, they’re aware that hitting doesn’t provide any benefits.
Step 3: Change The Scenery
After calmly addressing your child, changing the scenery can help your child get out of their frenzy quicker. Although this can be hard (depending on the situation,) moving across the room or outside is still OK.
By changing the scenery, your toddler can begin to distract themselves with alternative surroundings. If they started hitting you inside, why not take them outside for 10 – 15 minutes to let off some steam?
Take a look around and find something new for your child – because it’s clear that they were upset for a reason.
Were they tired? Did they want more of your attention? Have they had a bite to eat? Figuring this out can also help you appropriately change the scenery.
Recommended Read: 7 Ways to Deal With Bullying (As a Parent)
Step 4: Encourage Communication
Don’t be afraid to encourage communication between yourself and your toddler. When you can establish an open conversation between yourself and your toddler – you’re not only helping yourself but for them as well.
Parent/child communication boosts their self-esteem and shows them respect. It’s no different for a growing toddler – and when you’re trying to deter poor behavioral traits such as hitting, communicating in conjunction with the expression of love can benefit them immensely.
You might find it weird speaking to your toddler as such, but doing so is a much better alternative as opposed to yelling and hitting them back. This way, you’ll install in them an understanding of how to express themselves better, as well as the importance of open communication has long-term.
Step 5: Implement This Routine Every Time
Whenever you find yourself in the same situation as your toddler hitting you, implement this routine every time! It is only through consistency and repetition where you’ll begin to see gradual changes – in both yourself and your child.
Implementing this routine every time will allow you to develop a greater appreciation for calm communication with your toddler – and you’ll notice a shift in them too.
Don’t forget to remain calm, breathe through the tantrums, and avoid reacting in a way that your toddler’s reaction will fuel your anger.
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