I have been there before. You are playing happily with your toddler, then suddenly, you see their hand approaching your face, then WHACK! It makes contact.
For no reason at all, your toddler has just hit you.
Don’t get me wrong; it doesn’t hurt; toddlers are pretty weak. But it will hurt other children, so you need to stop your toddler from hitting others, whether they have a reason to or not!
While we are on the subject, teaching your toddler self-defense will also teach them self discipline and will give them a much-needed energy release!
Most toddlers will go through this phase, so it is nothing that you need to be concerned about. How you deal with it is the most important thing because it will escalate throughout their development if it is not dealt with swiftly. Now is the start if you want to stop your toddler from hitting others.
You cannot wait until it actually hurts before you do anything about it!
Why Toddlers Hit Others
Let me begin with the reasons why a toddler might hit others.
This is the biggest reason your toddler hits others, especially if there is no reason to (i.e., they are angry).
Toddlers are learning about life, and most importantly, they are learning about emotions. For example, toddlers can get very excited when playing games, and they may not know how to show their excitement. Instead, a sudden build-up of energy needs to be released somehow.
Sometimes that energy is released with a swift blow. If my toddler hits me, it is usually straight in the nether region!
Your toddler might be angry and is using that as a reason to hit. This is especially true if he is learning to hit from elsewhere.
It is worth taking stock of your reactions when things do not go your way. And keep your anger in check.
It is common for children to get angry when they do not get what they want, but I guess you already know that, right?
When you are tired, you are not thinking straight. Toddlers get tired a lot! I think it must be all the running around, eh?
When your toddler is tired, they may decide to hit out for no reason.
Full Of Energy
The exact opposite of tired, your toddler might be FULL of energy…as toddlers always seem to be. When full of energy, toddlers need other ways to disperse it. Hitting might be their way of releasing some pent of energy.
7 Tips To Stop Your Toddler Hitting Others For No Reason
Talk To Them
Do not be fooled by your child. They will listen and give you answers as to why they might be hitting for no reason.
When your toddler hits out, the first thing to do is stop what you are both doing and ask them why they did it. You may or may not get an answer, but as long as they understand that you will be asking them the question every time they hit, they will realize what they are doing is wrong.
You may get lucky, and they may respond with the actual reason. Either way, it must be the first thing you do each time they lash out and hit for no reason.
If your toddler reacts badly to the question above, you must remove attention. Your toddler must learn that hitting is NOT a way to get your attention. Hitting will result in the opposite!
When my son was a toddler, he went through a phase of hitting for no reason. I asked him why he did it, and if the answer was not good enough or resulted in a bad reaction, I stood up and walked away from him.
Toddlers want your attention, and they will try a multitude of things in an attempt to get it. If they hit you or others for no reason and respond with attention, they learn that they can get your attention by hitting. That is not the message you want to give!
As an opposite to this, it is also essential to reward your toddler with more attention when they get things right. It is compelling!
Take Them Away From The Situation
If removing your attention does not work, then remove them from the situation they are in.
Before you do that, you must explain that you are taking them somewhere else because they have lashed out.
Remember to take them to a place where they can calm down and reflect on what they did. Reflection is powerful, and toddlers do it all the time. They are learning, so get them only to remember the good things!
Distraction is a key tool in your parent’s arsenal! It works for so many situations that you will find yourself in.
When your toddler hits for no reason, you still need to ask them the question:
‘Why did you just hit out?’
If your toddler reacts in a way that is not appropriate, distract them immediately. Distraction will help to remove the thought that hitting will get your attention.
When you have finished the distraction, revisit the question. Your toddler must understand that hitting out will NOT get them what they want.
Punishment – Removing Toys
One time, I picked my son up from a club he attends after School one day each week. As I walked through the door, I saw that he was not happy to see me! This is pretty standard, depending on how he feels at the time. It’s 50/50 whether he is pleased to see me or not.
I went over to see him, knelt to speak with him (it is essential to get down to their level), and the first thing he did was hit me on the arm. I was not happy. After standing up and walking away, I noticed that he was following me. He hit me with a second blow, this time on my side. As we left the building and got into the car, we were silent.
For the entire journey home, we were silent.
As we got home, we removed our coats, and I went straight for the toy cupboard. Then, I picked up 3 of his favorite toys without saying a word. I sat him down and explained that I was taking away 2 toys because he hit me and the 3rd toy because of its seriousness.
He has not hit me since.
Remove Outside Influences
Excess screen time for toddlers is a hot topic right now, and I must admit that occasionally I completely forget how long my son has been on his tablet!
Screen time, especially at night, has been shown to increase sleep disturbance in children, leading to more meltdowns and tantrums.
It would help if you also kept on the things they are watching. It is too easy to give your toddler a tablet so you can get on with other life tasks, but what are they watching? Have you got access to kid’s YouTube? Or are you giving them access to full YouTube?
There are many videos aimed at toddlers, but how age-appropriate are they? Do they have mild violence? Always ensure that your child uses kid’s YouTube!
Toddlers (especially Boys) are prone to watching Superhero videos on YouTube, filled with violence, albeit mild. They see their heroes hitting people and think it is okay to do it.
Think about the friends they have. Kids pick up almost all of their bad habits from friends, so observe as they play and always pick up on bad behavior and put them straight.
Teach Your Toddler About Feelings
Toddlers do not know how to deal with feelings yet and are still learning about life. It would be best if you remembered that.
Teaching your toddler emotional understanding will see their development skyrocket!
Knowing the steps and discussing each emotion they are likely to encounter is essential. Leaving them to figure it out for themselves is a recipe for disaster.
Take the first step by giving each emotion a name. Draw a happy face, a sad face, and an angry face. Explain to your toddler the differences with each one, and keep repeating the name of each.
Give your toddler workable examples and tell them how to deal with them. For instance:
Remember when you woke up and it was your birthday? You saw all of the gifts, and you were pleased. You had your happy face on! When I am happy, I cheer, clap, and I have a big smile on my face.
Remember last night when we played, but it was time to go to bed? You were unhappy, so you had an unhappy face. When I am unhappy, I tell someone I am sad and explain why. It is important to tell someone when you are unhappy because they might make you happier.
Remember last week when your friend took a toy away? You were angry, and you had an angry face on. When I am angry, I tell someone why I am angry. I tell someone because they might be able to help. When you had your angry face on, I asked why. You told me it was because your friend took your toy away, and I suggested you play with another toy. Then you had your happy face on again!
Find Other Ways To Release Energy
Join a local club to help burn off all the excess energy that might promote your toddler to others for no reason.
Search your local area for ideas.
If you cannot find a local club to join, take your toddler out to burn some energy. Local parks or wooded areas are great to unleash a rampant toddler in! Take advantage of nature and get your toddler some fresh air.
If your toddler is hitting others, or you, for no reason, it is essential to get to the root cause immediately. Toddlers are always learning, and boy, do they learn quickly! Ensure they remember the good things and not the bad things they do to get your attention.
Your toddler is likely lashing out because they are unsure how to deal with certain emotions. Remember that responding to anger with anger is never a good idea.
Ever heard of the phrase Monkey see, Monkey do? That is exactly what your toddler is learning.