How to stop your toddler hitting you and others

Kinderling News & Features

Has your beloved bub suddenly become a boxer? Likes to hit, slap or pinch your face, and even laughs when they do it? 

Listener Sam recently got in touch with Kinderling Helpline because her two year old daughter keeps hitting when she doesn’t get her way. She wanted some advice from Mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue, who has over 30 years of experience working closely with newborns and families with young kids. 

Chris says that it doesn’t matter what the reason is for hitting, because it just needs to come to an end. “A child being physical is one of those things that the child has to understand that we do not do that,” she says. 

Listen to Chris on Kinderling Conversation:

Chris says it’s common for kids at this age to lash out physically and it's important to be firm to stop the fighting. “We need to give them a clear message that there is no hitting, no biting, no kicking," advises Chris. 

If they hit you... 

It's common for a parent to cop a whack when they tell their toddler 'no'. If that happens, Chris says to address it instantly.

“If they're in your arms when they hit, I would put them straight down on the floor, get on eye level and say to them ‘we do not hit’ and then I would walk away for a few minutes.” 

After this short time out for everybody, she says to come come back and repeat ‘no hitting’ and then distract them into the next activity.

Regardless of which parent they're hitting, Chris says it's key for both of you to enforce the no-hitting rule. "This gives a very clear message that this does not happen in our family".

If they hit someone else...

Things can escalate if your kid hits another in a social setting. If it does happen, it's good to acknowledge the incident and apologise to the other child and their parent, where possible. 

If need be, Chris suggests a timeout or even leaving the park as an appropriate form of discipline. “You want that message to come through, that it is totally unacceptable to hit, bite and kick,” she says. If you've given them a prior warning, it's important to follow through.

Fortunately, there’s good news at the end of it: "With age it goes away."

Do you have your own question? Contact Kinderling Helpline now so we can help, and tune in Mondays at 12pm.

Check out Chris' book Bringing Baby Home on the Pan McMillan website