My baby is one year old now, and she hits playfully. She does not do it to be mean, obviously. She just gently hits and smiles. regardless, I do not want this to become a habit. We try saying, "don't hit," and show her the appropriate way to behave. It doesn't always work though. Since she is still so young and probably doesn't understand what she is doing and can't really articulate her feelings as well as older kids can, how can we prevent this from becoming a habit? Thanks!
what do to if your child hits playfully?
I find with our 14mo DD that the more we pay attention to it, the more she does it. For example if we say 'no hitting' and look concerned/stern, she guages our faces, laughs and does it again. If we say ouch, she's been known to take a whack to get us to make a funny noise again. So for us, we know certain situations that trigger it and we avoid them. We offer opportunities for her to do appropriate hitting - drumminng with spoons on a box or the kitchen chairs which she does and tells us "bang" and sshe does it. And fortunately for us, she does tend to say "bang" before she actually does hit so we can redirect her to a book or a toy she likes, or ask her where the dogs are so she calls them and forgets about hitting.
I agree with SFC, I think a lot of playful hitting is reinforced because it's so interesting to children to see the various ways that adults react. If we keep in mind that they are sponges for understanding us, we see how they really NEED to figure this stuff out. My reaction to hitting for infants/young children is always to make it the most boring thing imaginable. Replace whatever she/he needs to learn from play hitting with something more desirable - like hugging, learning a chore, playing, or anything that provides that information without involving hitting.
Honestly? When my kid does it, I gently pull his hand away and either tell him, "gentle!" or "You're not a kitty." Because I think he's imprinting off our cats, and since it seems to be okay when the cats do it, he thinks it's okay for him to do it. He surprisingly enough stops after that.