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Toddler hitting and kicking......advice needed

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
My 21 month old dd has recently started hitting and kicking dh and I when she gets angry or frustrated. We have no idea how or where she picked this up. As far as we know, she has never witnessed either. When she gets upset, she says, "Mommy, Hit!! Kick!!" She then hits and/or kicks. Since she tells us that she is going to hit before she actually does it, we've tried to redirect her, but with little success. First, we tried distraction. This has not worked. We've also tried to stop her from hitting while still acknowledging her emotions (i.e., "It looks like you are angry...it is okay to feel angry, but it is not ok to hit people. If you're angry, hit this pillow instead.")-not too successful there, either. Then we tried the "When you hit, it makes the other person hurt and feel sad." This doesn't seem to phase her. Finally, we have resorted to a 1 minute time out. After the time-out, she says she is sorry and will not hit, but neither dh nor myself really feel comfortable with time outs when she is not even 2. Also, the very next time she gets upset she hits again. We are really at a loss. She is otherwise a very affectionate, loving, spirited little girl. Any advice or suggestions would be very welcome!
post #2 of 7
It may just be that, like most toddlers, she'll need you to "stay the course" for awhile on one consistent way of handling the hitting and kicking.

The words you are using with her are pretty much what I use for the same situation (addressing the emotion and so on). Giving her a good solid alternative can be helpful also... perhaps hitting a pillow just isn't helping her to release those very strong emotions? Maybe something with a little noise? I usually tell DS to go and give his drums a good whack and this seems to help. If kicking is the order of the day, change the scenery, get outside and kick a ball until she's pooped!

I'm by no means an expert--always revamping (and hopefully bettering) my discipline style, but I do keep in mind that with everything toddler, it does sometimes take many repetitions before the ideas begin to sink in. With that, I just keep my responses consistent and calm (as possible, that bite hurt!) and wait...

On other thing I've done if the hitting or kicking (in our case biting) did actual physical damage to the other person (in this case, yours truly), is just be honest, "OUCH, that really hurts, the skin is broken, I'm bleeding... " Then I had him accompany me while I tended to my wound. Everytime he saw this wound over the next few days, he'd get a very sad face and say, "ouch." It broke my heart actually. I didn't want him to feel monumentally bad for a farely run of the mill toddler behavior, but it was nice to see some understanding on his part.

The biting thing was short-lived and remember most toddlers go through stages like this, and most get through them sooner rather than later.

Hang in there.
post #3 of 7
I can relate to this situation since recently my 2 and a half dd has been hitting when shes mad. yesterday it was me. I was somewhat surprised at the intensity and mostly the quickness at which her temper erupted. the thing is that her aggressiveness and temper is much like mine; and I dont let her see my show of it too much . I worry that it's some sort of inherited trait. my dad had a violent temper. mine can be really volcanic. so, as much as i try to remember that the age is ripe for this kind of behavior, I also am concerned about handling it correctly and possibly changeing her way of dealing. hopefully i can accomplish this through being consistent as was said and staying calm and redirecting. I do think that as a spirited young girl her energies should be best utilized where it is safe and in line with her needs. for instance: she loves to throw and play ball and my goal is to give her attention in this area. I know that I rush too often through my day and surely she could really use my help in outletting her energies. so, on we go growing and learning with our children, right?? I need to slow down and play and maybe by doing that my energies will be outletted more constructively as will hers???
Laura
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies I really haven't been consistent enough in how I am handling this situation- I have been trying different approaches hoping to find a solution, and probably sending mixed messages to dd by doing so. Embee, I love your suggestion about giving her something a little more satisfying than a pillow to vent her frustrations with. I am definitely going to try that. Dh and I discussed the situation last night, and we have decided to stop using time-outs for now. I think offering an alternative object to hit/kick when she hits one of us is the avenue we feel most comfortable with, so we are going to stick with that and give it a little more time.

"I also am concerned about handling it correctly and possibly changeing her way of dealing."

Lauraess, I can really relate to that statement. I am so concerned w/ providing dd the "right" tools for handling her emotions! I know the best way to do this is by modeling the appropriate behavior, and sometimes that can really be a challenge. I personally have to work on being more patient in dealing with situations. I tend to be easily frustrated and I don't want to pass this trait to her.
Anyway, thanks for the feedback and the reminder that a more consistent approach is key.

post #5 of 7
My 23mo is hitting too, mainly his friends, but also my dh and me. He is clearly doing it when he wants to say something that is beyond his verbal abilities, could this be part of what your daughter is doing, too? If he wants to play with the other kids (mostly older) and they say no baby no, he will hit them. So I try to pull him aside and rather than make a big deal about the hitting, I try to figure out what he wants to say and then give him the words; like:
me: did you want to play with them?
him: yeah
me: well why don't you ask them then? Say " can I play with you?" but first you need to say sorry for hitting

so then he almost always will go over and say "sorry for hitting, play wif you?" and the kids are ok.

I dunno, this may not apply to you, but it is working for us!
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Water, my dd sounds similar to your son although her frustration is usually due to physical barriers, rather than verbal. My dd tends to hit when she becomes frustrated because she can't accomplish a task because it is not physically possible (like putting a crayon into a keyhole) or when I am trying to distract/gently redirect her from a dangerous situation (like running into the street). She will say sorry about 50% of the time without prompting, other times we will suggest that an apology would be appropriate, and she apologizes then. If she is extremely frustrated and angry, we don't force the apology, but wait until she has calmed down somewhat and then discuss what happened. The hitting/kicking issue is definitely our first behavioral challenge- I've been making an extra effort to this remain calm and patient, and to keep in mind during the difficult moments that as much as our dd has begun to express her anger and frustration, she has also expresses a tremendous capacity for love and affection.
post #7 of 7
Yeah my son will hit in that situation too, where I am trying to redirect him from something that he really wants to do! I am big into the talking it through thing, I will acknowledge his feelings and try to get him to label them, and then talk about the "rule" (we only have safety rules, but they are firm! like the street one) and then tell him how it makes me feel to be hit, and then let him know how he can fix it (sorry, hugs whatever). It is working a lot of the time now, of course after the 6,347,085th time we do it! But that's toddlers, I guess. Good luck with your dd,
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