I have been there before. You are playing happily with your toddler, then all of a sudden, 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, right? 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!
Table of Contents
- Why Toddlers Hit Others
- Full Of Energy
- 7 Tips To Stop Your Toddler Hitting Others For No Reason
- Talk To Them
- Remove Attention
- Take Them Away From The Situation
- Distract Them
- Punishment – Removing Toys
- Remove Outside Influences
- Teach Your Toddler About Feelings
- Find Other Ways To Release Energy
Most toddlers will go through this phase, so it is nothing that you need to be concerned about. How you deal with is the most important thing, because if it is not deal with swiftly, it will escalate throughout their development. If you want to stop your toddler hitting others, then now is the time to start.
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 is hitting 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. When playing games, toddlers can get very excited, and they may not know how to show their excitement. 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 own reactions when things do not go your way and keep your anger in check.
It is very 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 to tired, your toddler might be FULL of energy…as toddlers always seem to be. When they are full of energy, a toddler will 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 they will 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 you 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 that 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, it is very important that you remove attention. Your toddler HAS to learn that hitting is NOT a way to get your attention. In fact, 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 you 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 important to also reward your toddler with more attention when they get things right. It is very powerful!
Take Them Away From The Situation
If removing your attention does not work, then simply 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 of the time. They are learning, remember, so get them to only remember the good things!
Distraction is a key tool in your parent 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 that 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 is feeling at the time. It’s 50/50 whether he is happy to see me or not.
I went over to see him, knelt down to speak with him (it is important 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. I was then hit 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. Without saying a word, I picked up 3 of his favorite toys. I sat him down and explained that I was taking away 2 toys because he hit me, and the 3rd toy because of how serious it was.
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.
You also need to keep on top of 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 kids 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 kids YouTube!
Toddlers (especially Boys) are prone to watching Superhero videos on YouTube, and they are filled with violence, albeit mild violence. They see their heroes hitting people and think that it is ok to do.
Think about the friends they have. Kids pick up almost all of their bad habits from friends, so watch carefully 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, they are still learning about life. You must remember that.
It is important to know the steps and to discuss each emotion they are likely to encounter. 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 it. For instance:
Remember when you woke up and it was your birthday? You saw all of the gifts and you were very happy. 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 were playing but it was time to go to bed. You were unhappy, so you had an unhappy face. When I am unhappy, I tell someone that I am unhappy and explain why. It is important to tell someone when you are unhappy because they might be able to 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 that 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 be promoting your toddler to others for no reason.
Search your local area for ideas.
If you are unable to find a local club to join, simply 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 out to get some fresh air.
If your toddler is hitting others, or you, for no reason, it is very important to get to the root cause as soon as you can. 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.
It is likely that your toddler is lashing out because they are not sure 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.