How do you handle hitting? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 08-08-2010, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD is 18 months old and firmly in temper tantrum territory! She's been hitting and screaming A LOT. The hitting is obviously an issue - currently we hold her hands, say very firmly "We do not hit each other" and demonstrate gentle touches. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Today she tried to hit my DH's aunt, which absolutely mortified him. Later his aunt wondered out loud where DD was learning this behavior since we have a firm no hitting policy, which mortified me!

Anyhoo, what's your way of handling hitting from a toddler?

Thanks!
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#2 of 13 Old 08-09-2010, 01:04 AM
 
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This is sooo frustrating! BTDT. It's good that you say we don't hit....The other good thing is demonstrating good touches.. A couple more things that worked for my babies was saying, OucH! that hurts! if they hit while i was holding them i would say we do not hit, if you hit again i will have to put you down...then follow through...if you are playing with them and they hit u, walk away and say i cannot play with you because u hit.

that always seemed to do the trick for me. usually when i put them down they would scream but they sure learned fast that hitting loses all attention. GL!

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#3 of 13 Old 08-09-2010, 06:56 AM
 
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Oh man, we're really dealing with this right now, it's horrible! I actually made a similar post although, I think it's worse now because DH travels so much. Anyways, I think DD had to have picked it up from daycare . So far we tell her no hitting in a stern voice and explain that it hurts when she does that. If she continues I leave the room (I tell her first that if she continues I will leave) but that turns into a HUGE tantrum because DD has a ton of separation anxiety so we're trying to figure out how to handle it better but nothing seems to work. The only thing that does work is when I leave the room... so, yeah, we're kind of confused on what to do too!
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#4 of 13 Old 08-09-2010, 09:35 AM
 
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We sing this song with actions :

Hands are for clapping.
Hands are for waving.
Hands are for hugging.


After the hug we change activities, rooms, whatever to get a fresh start.

Our girls weren't hitters, but DS is. I know that it can feel counter-intuitive to hug a child that just hit somebody, but honestly, toddlers do much better with things that are funny and silly, models of what to do as opposed to what not to do, and redirection.

If you think about it, it's a lot to ask of a toddler when you tell them what not to do and expect them to think up a positive alternative on their own.

This approach has worked for us, and I have seen it work with other kids. Our older DD once got into some physical play, it wasn't really hitting, at a playground with a little boy who was about 18 or 20 months old. When it escalated to a certain point the little boy stopped and started clapping his hands, and then DD started clapping her hands. It was wonderful to see two toddlers who had just resolved their own situation before somebody got hurt.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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#5 of 13 Old 08-09-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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Usually we say 'gentle' and remind him how to gently touch someone -- this works when he's trying to show affection/get someone's attention/etc.

When he just wants to hit for the fun of it, we ask him to go get his hammer & 'fix' the floor... or to hit a pillow -- basically find a way for him to hit that's appropriate.

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#6 of 13 Old 08-09-2010, 10:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by SomedayMaybe3 View Post
A couple more things that worked for my babies was saying, OucH! that hurts! if they hit while i was holding them i would say we do not hit, if you hit again i will have to put you down...then follow through...if you are playing with them and they hit u, walk away and say i cannot play with you because u hit.
I was trying this with my 2.5 yo son who just started hitting, but it's totally backfiring. It seems like my guy is in it for the emotional energy of the reaction, but can't keep it fun for himself, because when that consequence kicks in, he has a melt down. Everything super escalates if I give any energy at all to the hitting/ throwing toys roughly at me. It's hard to restrain my reactions, cause I really AM getting hurt, but what works best is if I just look at him and get neutral and quiet (while I breathe deeply!) and then I immediately distract/ redirect. Soon after we are back on a good foot, I say without a blaming tone, "Hey, remember when you hit me before? It really hurt. Could you show me a gentle touch to make me feel better?" He always does. Or, if he doesn't, I've misjudged our good foot, and I try again shortly.

I can't wait for this part to be done -- or can I? What comes next?!?

Mom of one child (2008), wife of one husband, tender of dogs, cats and chickens. Household interests: ocean life (kid), bitcoins (husband), simplifying (me).

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#7 of 13 Old 08-10-2010, 12:25 AM
 
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DS is trying out the hitting thing too. He usually does it out of frustration (but when he first learned it, he was trying it to get his way). My first action is to catch his hands and tell him we don't hit. He usually doesn't "hear" it because he's upset, but I do it each time to reinforce the idea. Then I try to get on his level somehow and address whatever the real need is. I believe there is enough separation between the hitting and that part of the response that he doesn't think hitting=>I get what I want.

I don't know, we are constantly learning. What works today won't tomorrow, his reason for doing something today won't be the same tomorrow.

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#8 of 13 Old 08-13-2010, 10:02 PM
 
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My DD just turned 14 months. We have been practicing 'gentle' and 'nice' touches for a long time, and she recently started to say, 'den-tull' and 'niiii' (she has a lot of words already.) While she says that, she softly pats us or herself. I told her to be gentle with the book, when she was throwing it and the pages were getting crinkled, and she started rubbing her own leg, haha! Any way, the last 2 days, she will be in the middle of petting/patting me or DH on the face, saying, 'niiii', then she will draw back and slap us! Sometimes she draws back like she's about to slap us, then still gently pats us. She seems to think it's quite hilarious, too We hold her hands and say, 'gentle' sometimes, we've said 'ouch', and she seems to think both of those things are hilarious. I've put her down when she is hitting, but it feels harsh to me. Then again, I'm having a really difficult time laying any boundaries at all with her because she has rarely cried in her life...she's always very happy & the crying has always been like 15-30 seconds or less...but when I am giving her boundaries lately, like not holding her on my lap at the computer if she pounds the keyboard, or not letting her hit me, or not letting her dump all of the milk out of her cup, etc...she SCREAMS and continues to scream her most upset scream...it lasts for a minute or two, which is just so long for my happy baby!

Does anyone have any advice? I'm going to try the 'hands' song mentioned above, but I've tried the other things and she is definitely not getting it at this point...is it maybe an age thing?

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#9 of 13 Old 08-14-2010, 09:54 AM
 
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My response. If I'm holding or playing with her, 'hitting hurts, I won't let you hit me/cat/etc.' Put her down, disengage a little.

'You may hit pillow/floor/couch'.

Then I try to ask what's wrong and guess an emotion 'mad, hungry, sad, bored, frustrated?'. These are of course my ideals... but it seems to have gotten her through the stage thus far.

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#10 of 13 Old 08-14-2010, 09:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ihugtrees View Post
[snip]but when I am giving her boundaries lately, like not holding her on my lap at the computer if she pounds the keyboard, or not letting her hit me, or not letting her dump all of the milk out of her cup, etc...she SCREAMS and continues to scream her most upset scream...it lasts for a minute or two, which is just so long for my happy baby!

Does anyone have any advice? I'm going to try the 'hands' song mentioned above, but I've tried the other things and she is definitely not getting it at this point...is it maybe an age thing?
I'd try to also validate her feelings while she's upset, "you're mad because mommy wouldn't let you hit the keyboard". Try to empathize with her and give her an acceptable alternative, slam the pillow or a piano toy. But still, keep putting her down when she slams the keyboard. Sadly keyboard slamming is also probably a sign she wants your full attention, we have that issue here too at times

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#11 of 13 Old 08-14-2010, 10:46 AM
 
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ihugtrees --

The best solution I've found so far for the keyboard pounding is let DS play a short game on the computer. I think it reinforced the proper way to use a computer? I also always let him close the laptop cover & he now waits for it to turn "blue" and then "black" before he closes it (so it is helping him learn colors too lol).

For the milk, I would give her either a no-spill cup or an open cup with only a half inch of milk (and refill when she finishes it) -- then she can 'spill' and play with it without making a huge mess.

I do think some hitting is just going to happen at some point, I think no matter what you do most kids will go through that stage. I think you're having a hard with the fact that setting boundaries makes her cry? Which I totally get (though my DS cried constantly from birth so it was not such a *thing* for us, boundaries make him cry less than just normal everyday life!!) I think you just have to remind yourself that a minute or two of crying when she's testing boundaries is not going to hurt her (but allowing her to hit you WILL hurt you and it's not fair to her to allow her to hit you either). You can empathize with her, redirect her energy to more appropriate hitting (pillows etc.), hug her 'til she calms down, whatever you think will best comfort her -- you don't have to just place her aside & let her cry for a couple minutes (which I would not recommend anyway!), but I do think setting boundaries when someone is hurting you or irreversibly destroying something important is critical for both your sake & hers!

Also it looks like she is about 4 months younger than my DS -- I think as she better learns to communicate & be able to do more of the things she wants to do, you'll see an improvement. My DS had a horrible time for a few months when his mental ability was far surpassing his physical ability -- so he wanted to communicate complex thoughts, he wanted to run and climb and do so many things, but physically he just couldn't do it yet. A lot of things (hitting, banging, etc.) really improved around 16-18 months as his physical abilities caught up with his brain & he was no longer constantly frustrated. If that makes sense lol.

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#12 of 13 Old 08-14-2010, 12:31 PM
 
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What I did when she was around that age was when I see her about to hit I VERY quickly say "lets hit the floor!" (or other inanimate object near by) and then I hit the floor. She thinks this is hilarious and does it too and it breaks the tension. I honestly have no idea if I'm "right" but she wasn't getting when I said anything else and now that she is a little older we've started the hands aren't for hitting. I do like the idea of a song though! But this stopped her hitting in the moment.

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#13 of 13 Old 08-14-2010, 03:52 PM
 
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We take the same approach as PPs have described. We've always stated, "We don't hit." Or if we've been playing and he hits and continues to try to hit we get up and say, "I don't want to play. It hurts when you hit." He seems to get that.

We also do lots of "Let's be gentle..." Or "Let's be nice..." and demonstrate gentle touching, patting etc.

More recently as he's gotten older we tell him that if he's angry he can go hit his monkey/big ball/floor/couch etc. Sometimes he just needs an outlet for his frustration.

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