toddler hitting and wanting to talk about it a lot - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 03-15-2014, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I need some help and thoughts about what is going on...
my 25 month old started hitting her playmates. it happens mostly in typical toddler stress situations..especially sharing toys, but sometimes seemingly out of nowhere (at least to me)
the first time she did it I overreacted and was pretty manipulative to no effect. I told her not to do it. that she should not hit, that one does not hit etc.. and even resorted to saying it made me very sad when she did this (which was untrue) mostly I was embarrassed -she does not hit hard so I wasn't even very concerned about the other child but I was horrified at what my little one was doing. she would not stop attacking her friend.
since then she has continued to hit albeit not as much as that day. I know my calmer approach has helped.
now she hits or pushes frequently when she plays with her friends. I tell her hands are for kissing and kiss her hands, and tell people should not hit other people hitting hurts etc.

she asks me to talk to her about specific incidents when she hit her friends.and frequently says: you should hit people?

any ideas as to what is going on? and how to get her to understand that she shouldn't hit push kick etc?
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#2 of 14 Old 03-15-2014, 01:55 PM
 
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Firstly, as the fed up mother of the child who was the recipient of another child's aggression, please be right with your child to prevent another child from being struck, even if you don't think it hurts. Every child has the right to be safe, even from other children.

Secondly, it sounds.to me that she is mostly unsure of what TO do. Staying with her will help you see the problem and redo it with her respectfully. When she has an issue with her friend, and starts to hit, catch her hand so she cannot. Gently put her hand back down, and help the children
respectfully work through the conflict.
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#3 of 14 Old 03-15-2014, 04:33 PM
 
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Do you get the impression that she has self restraint when she hits?  Or is it more an impulse that she doesn't seem to be in control of at the moment?  Because I think how you go about helping her with that really depends. If she's hitting to try to understand people's reaction, that's one thing. Impulse control is a different one, yk? 


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#4 of 14 Old 03-15-2014, 06:14 PM
 
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First of all, I want to say that your child's behavior is perfectly normal for her age. When toddlers get together, hitting and sometimes biting is bound to happen. Toddlers have few skills to ask for what they want and to solve conflicts with others.

 

So her current behavior is not likely to become her forever behavior. But for right now, it's age appropriate behavior, so I hope to encourage you to not worry.

 

Agree with the other poster about teaching her what TO DO instead of what not to do. How DO you want her to solve her current problem? You may have to give her the words to say to a friend.

 

Lots of supervision is necessary when toddlers play together because they don't have conflict resolution skills.

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#5 of 14 Old 03-26-2014, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here.  Thanks for the advice  I do forget to tell her what to do and focus on what not to do.  Some rereading of GD books to figure out what to do was in order and I have been reviewing.  It is hard to figure out what I want her to do other than NOT hit.  Stomp her feet, choose something else to play with?



 


I don't think its an impulse control issue. The other day, to my horror, she pushed a 9 month old baby. She definitely pushed her but did so very gently--the baby had time to brace herself and go down slowly, I suspect if it were impulse control her actions would be more forceful and rougher.

 



1. I know its common for toddlers to hit and push. What I was not expecting were the frequent conversations about hitting and pushing that my daughter frequently tries to start and the "It's okay to hit." which is said as if it were somewhere between a fact and a a question.  I wonder what she is trying to communicate or figure out.  



 



2.  Even though she never hits hard, I do try to keep my child from hitting other children but the original day was so chaotic  and my child was just so determined that it was almost impossible to do so. the moment I stepped away to do anything-- get my guest a cup of tea for example-- she would lash out at her friend again.  Which leads me to the question how important it is to be there all the time? On normal days I give my daughter lots of leeway and tend not to supervise closely.  In retrospect the play date should have ended once I realized I couldn't get my daughter to stop hitting her playmate but it felt awkward to ask her little friend and her mother to leave...



 



I have seen the "I see two girls who want the same toy" approach written about but it seems impossible to apply at the moment when my daughter wants anything that her playmate has in her hand -- and the moment its available just wants the object  the playmate has now picked up.  

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#6 of 14 Old 03-26-2014, 11:34 AM
 
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If she does it as soon as you aren't looking, then perhaps it is actually attention seeking behavior. Maybe her question/statement of hitting being ok is because she is confused. You tell her not to hit, and that it isn't ok, but, it is an immediate way of gaining.your presence and undivided attention. So, hitting isn't ok, but, then, it works, so, why not?

Maybe emphasizing how to get your attention right away is what she needs?
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#7 of 14 Old 03-26-2014, 01:09 PM
 
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I agree with FM, if you think it's attention seeking, then a great way to go is to provide extra attention. Perhaps she can come in the kitchen with you while you're getting the tea. You can say something like, "I know you're having trouble playing gently when I'm out of the room so I am going to take your hand and you are going to join me in the kitchen and help me get the tea."  Then just take her hand and go. 


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#8 of 14 Old 03-26-2014, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It may be related to attention seeking, but she hits when I am around too-- its just that then I can catch her hands. Although come to thin of it she often hits when I am talking to someone else etc. so this may be part of it.  I will talk to her about other ways to get my attention. 

 

What I am especially curious about, is her desire for me to narrate or retell what happened later on and her statements of "Hitting is okay" which to some extent is just her playing like she does when she says something red is green and then smiles but I feel like she is trying to talk about or figure something out which makes me wonder what I am not communicating to her. 

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#9 of 14 Old 03-26-2014, 01:54 PM
 
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My guess is that it's a sort of emotionally charged attention. I wouldn't say that there's something your NOT giving her but more like the reaction she gets in these situations is SO INTERESTING to her. And, if you imagine that her goal right now is to learn as much as she can about human emotions and connection, it can be pretty easy to understand that she is getting something very interesting out of this situation. 

 

I hesitate with this advice a little because it really does ring of behaviorism but I think it may be a good idea to really remove anything interesting from the conversation. If she asks about hitting, perhaps just say, "No, hitting is not OK.  Would you like to go to the park?  What's your favorite thing do do at the park?"  


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#10 of 14 Old 03-26-2014, 03:00 PM
 
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I hesitate to post this, as it most likely does not apply to your situation. But on the off chance, I am going to chime in. My DD went through a phase of hitting and talking about hitting that came on somewhat suddenly and seemed uncharacteristc. I shrugged it off at first as a normal developmental stage (I think she was 4 but may have been 3) I supervised more closely, modeled more appropriate behaviors, talked about sharing and taking turns, and figured she'd grow out of it. Then several months later (she had just turned 5) I discovered that she was being hit by her grandmother, who was her most frequent babysitter. All that time she had been confused, scared and trying to process the conflicting information she was getting. Despite being very articulate for her age she hadn't been able to tell me what was going on until I saw it myself.
Most likely this is not what is happening for your child, but it may be good to open a conversation with her about hitting in case something has happened to her that aren't aware of.
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#11 of 14 Old 03-26-2014, 03:12 PM
 
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#12 of 14 Old 03-30-2014, 04:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Taqah View Post
 

OP here.  Thanks for the advice  I do forget to tell her what to do and focus on what not to do.  Some rereading of GD books to figure out what to do was in order and I have been reviewing.  It is hard to figure out what I want her to do other than NOT hit.  Stomp her feet, choose something else to play with?

 

 

First, don't focus on telling her anything as an immediate reaction to her hitting, because that tends to reinforce it with attention.  As a practical matter attention is a big reward, you tend to get more of what you pay attention to, so you have to be careful and aware of the effect of your reactions.  You don't want to become an unwitting behaviorist, conditioning your kid to do the very thing you don't want them to do.

 

What you want to do is give her attention for not hitting, but you don't want to use the term "not hitting" or any negative forms.

 

When she is playing with another kid and not hitting the kid, get close, touch her, say something like "I like seeing you playing nicely",  "You are being so respectful of others".  Think of positive statements of this sort that seem appropriate to you.  Closeness, touch, emotion, timing (immediately when the good play is occurring) are important to make this more effective.  Also, ask questions like "Why do you think kindness and respect are important?" or something to get the kid to talk about her views on these matters.  And, if you can get her talking about the these opposites (the opposites of hitting and aggression) give her your undivided attention and use active listening to keep the conversation going.  The topic should be why good is good, not why bad is bad.

 

Personally, I would use timeout as an immediate response hitting, but perhaps you are anti-timeout.  Timeout is pretty gentile my my opinion, if done correctly, and that is an important if.  Or you can just separate the kids for a while.   If you are not hopelessly anti-timeout, I can give you some pointers on that.

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#13 of 14 Old 04-01-2014, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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tadamsmar thanks!  I think I did create a a problem by reacting so strongly the first time and she has mellowed out a lot over the last month. I really like your suggestions and IdentityCrisis's suggestions for alternative conversations.  As for Timeout -- at the moment I am in the anti-time-out camp but not virulently so-- D just turned 2 so its not like (other than this) she has done anything to make me even have to consider 

 

LTurtle, that is terrible... I am so sorry to hear that. We are just about to put her in childcare so I don't think its a worry but I am going to ask the very few relatives that have cared for her until now, just in case and talk to her about that and other safety issues I have not bothered with until now--thanks for the reminder that even family members can do the unexpected with such sad consequences. 

 

My D gets really upset when she sees others upset or in pain in anyway.  I often have to tell her its okay to be happy its okay to be sad or angry... they are all just feelings and feelings change." because she can sometimes really get upset when she sees a child (or adult for that matter) cry etc.  I know that she is processing that information because the other day while she bathed I heard her talking to herself and repeating this (I can see the bathtub from the kitchen sink so I wash the dishes and clean up while she plays in the tub--our apartment is minuscule)  So sometimes I almost wish she would hit me and I could cry, or hit a child hard (not really, of course) so she could see them cry because I think it would help her stop.

 

I'm not sure "Hitting hurts." resonates because when she does it, it never does, so none of her playmates are anything other than annoyed. 

 

Question: has anyone tried the "I see two children who have a problem, I see two children who want the same toy; how can we solve this..." approach with 2 year olds.  My D is really verbal but its hard for me to imagine her coming up with a solution or talking this through even when she is not upset.  I'd love to try though, any advice?

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#14 of 14 Old 04-01-2014, 12:11 PM
 
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Question: has anyone tried the "I see two children who have a problem, I see two children who want the same toy; how can we solve this..." approach with 2 year olds.  My D is really verbal but its hard for me to imagine her coming up with a solution or talking this through even when she is not upset.  I'd love to try though, any advice?

 

It's worth a try.

 

But, if they start accusing each other, then I think you should probably disengage and not spend a lot of time trying to get them to not do that.

 

Also, if you try this 3 or 4 times and it does not work, I think you should give it up.  It's becoming a more of a nag that is ineffective or even counter-productive since the attention might reinforce the unwanted behavior.

 

I am not a big fan of anything that amounts to reacting to unwanted behavior by giving it attention.  It might be better to immediately separate them and take away the toy for a couple of minutes without any discussion.  If they don't just forget about the toy in that 2 minutes and they still want it, that might be a good time to see if they could have a productive conversation about sharing.

 

It's a good idea to let her know that you value sharing, and to give her positive attention if she comes up with ideas on how to share, but you can do this at a time when two kids are not having a conflict.  I know that it seems like a good idea to try to teach sharing in the midst of a conflict between 2 kids, but all the parenting research I know of seems to indicate that this is not a good approach.

 

The best thing to do is to catch them doing good.  If you notice even the smallest act of sharing, then react to that with praise, celebration, discussion, questions, listening, attention. Also give attention for cooperation or just playing together well, the smallest thing that is the opposite of conflict over a toy.

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