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We need help!!! My toddler won't stop hitting.

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  • We need help!!! My toddler won't stop hitting.

    My husband and I are all out of ideas. My ds is not quite 18 months and the last couple of weeks he's been slapping me in my face. We breastfeed, cosleep, never leave him with sitters, always supervise him, and try very hard to give him a lot of attention and "our presence". We distract him, address his needs, swap to give eachother a break, and take him out of the "situation". He is hitting me while I change his diaper which he hates and when he doesn't get what he wants. Any good suggestions??? We need help!!!

  • #2
    This is annoyingly common at this age so please don't feel alone in your frustrations.
    Here is a great article on toddler biting but most of the tips still relate to hitting.
    What to do When Your Toddler Bites
    by Patty Wipfler

    You mention you efforts to fix the situation so far and they all sound like great starts. There may not be anything else you can do to abruptly stop it, just be consistent and loving regardless of his actions. This looks good..a little parent encouragement-
    Struggles are OK
    by Patty Wipfler

    There are times that we will do everything 'right' and our children will still do things that annoy us. I don't think that means we go into punitive or shaming behaviors to 'solve' the problem as that really just creates more issues. Patience is really the key here. I would not let him hurt you, but I would not forcibly restrain him to stop the hitting either. Give him hitting options like pillows or brush piles. Start exploring the concept of emotional coaching to help him manage his emotions and help you approach his strong feelings.
    I really enjoyed this book Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime
    by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

    Keep up the good work...This too shall soon pass!


    • #3
      it very likely is developmental. often toddlers hit b/c they are frustrated, but don't yet have the language to say "look, i really despise these diaper changes, so if you could please leave me alone, i'd appreciate it".

      try empathizing w/him "I know you're angry right now, i'm going to try to make this as easy as possible." or "I know you REALLY want to play with the knives. Those aren't safe. It's hard when you want something badly".

      then, i'd work at solving the issue when he's really mad. diaper changing - offer him a special toy to distract; other situations, try to work it out where you can both get what you want.


      • #4
        I agree with the above posts.

        I'd also work on telling him what I feel an appropriate way to express his feelings would be. So that he can learn where to go from here. Right now, he's doing it the only way he knows how.


        • #5
          My 17 month old boy is doing the exact same thing, and I think it is definitely a result of frustration at not being able to communicate as efficiently as his preschool brother. My toddler has been slapping me, his brother, and my husband - but is otherwise a loving, jolly boy. It is most common when he is hungry or tired. The best thing we have been doing is trying to figure out his needs and talking calmly to him, then fulfilling those needs (when possible) or inititating a redirect. We just bought him these baby bongo drums as an early Christmas gift, and they have served brilliantly in this regard!

          Good luck! Surely it's a stage, and let us patiently get through this!


          • #6
            Thank you

            I appreciate the time and thought you gave to me. I think we just needed to know it was normal because we have done almost all of those things. I am looking for the books as I write this. Thanks again.


            • #7
              very helpful

              my 23 month old is doing this too and Im glad for the advice


              • #8

                Oh, we are so in this same situation! DS is 17 months and he has been hitting and slapping a lot lately.

                Here is what we have been doing for the past few weeks -- and I can honestly say that things are getting better!

                First of all, we don't call it 'hitting'. I have an almost 5 year old and I want her to know that what he is doing is not the same as hitting that she has encountered with peers. A baby doesn't understand that his hitting hurts. So we call it drumming. In my opinion, there is a big difference between a 17 month old doing this and a 2-3 year old hitting out of frustration.

                We tell Tobin that he can't drum on people. Then we immediately help him find something to drum on (the couch, an actual drum, clapping hands etc). We have also given him a sign for drumming -- so he can tell us that is what he wants. He really love hand clapping games and rhymes and we have increased those in his life.

                We turn it into a little game. Even Cora knows the script now. "Uh, oh, no drumming on Cora's head! That hurts Cora! owie! Can Tobin drum on the floor? Yes! Can Tobin drum on hands? YES! Can Tobin drum on Cora's head? No," etc etc etc.

                We have also found that he has a higher need for physical activity than his sister did. And on days when we are cooped up more, we tend to have more 'drumming'. So we make an effort to have physical play (chasing, jumping on beds etc) especially on the days we don't get outside or to the park.

                I can't say for sure of course, but I wonder if your son is doing this drumming behavior for the sound effect and physical sensation rather than out of frustration or anger. If you can re-frame this in your mind, perhaps it will be less frustrating for you.

                Good luck! I know the breastfeeding slapping is the hardest! We find a nursing toy or necklace to be helpful for those moments. Tobin also likes those little squeak toys while he is nursing. So he has something to do with his hands that makes noise! That seems to really meet that need for him.