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I've got a hitter....

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  • I've got a hitter....

    Hi ladies!

    My name is Corrina. My daughter, Maeve, is just about to turn three. We're having some ongoing issues with general aggression toward other children. Most recently we left a friend's home after Maeve repeatedly hit my friend's one year old son. I tried distraction, engaging her an activity that we all participated in together. I tried traditional timeouts. I tried simply removing her from the play area to spend some time with me. The last straw occurred when she struggled to get away from me to hit Charlie again! At that point, I just put her in the car and went home, both of us in tears. We talked about it at length and she responded well to an additional consequence at home (denying her a particular activity for the rest of the day). She seemed sorry and seemed to understand the consequence but we've been through this before.

    We just signed her up for a soccer class she'll attend with Daddy which we hope will help. I think the root of the issue is a combination of her personality and under socialization. But I'm fearful to participate in activities with others' children as I'm always so mortified when she strikes other kids.


  • #2
    hi corrina,
    hugs to you! it can be rough when our LOs act out in socially unacceptable ways. it's embarrassing and often times leaves you feeling like you're doing something wrong. but rest assured, hitting is really pretty common among toddlers, so you are not alone!

    the first thing to remember when our children act out-of-sorts is to try to identify what need they may be trying to fulfill. sometimes it's connection w/parents, communication w/others, trying to meet a physical need like tired, hungry, etc. it sounds like in this situation maybe she was over-stimulated and really needed to leave and you were able to help her.

    the other thing is when we use positive discipline, the goal is to maintain a healthy attachment with our children. by using positive means of connecting with them, they are able to learn far more than from the use of punishments. they learn to trust us and trust themselves.

    the Positive Discipline Principle goes into great detail about this. it is here:


    • #3
      Thanks Dedra. Sometimes the best support is just hearing reassuring words and reminders like yours! When we got home from that terrible playdate she ate her WEIGHT in noodles then went straight to bed. When I reflected more on the situation it seemed likely that hunger and fatigue definitely played a part in the whole thing. That being said, it's still so helpful to hear other mothers give advice that doesn't involve spanking or something equally awful.

      Thanks again!


      • #4
        Yes, I always try and remind myself constantly..."Those who feel bad, act bad!"

        I did have a son who hit a lot too though when he was younger (1.5 - 2.5) and I understand the frustration. We had to leave events a lot for a while! I tried my best to just not allow it and I would tell him that hitting was not allowed. I'd pretty much have to hoover around him and when he raised his hand to hit I would stop him and tell him, hitting is not allowed, I will not let you hit. If he was mad because a kid had a toy he wanted I just explained to him he couldn't play with that toy and tried to find something else that would interest him. If he continued to try and hit I would make him sit in my lap for a while. If that didn't work then we would leave because he obviously wasn't having fun and something bigger was going on! It took a while and lots of consistency but we rarely have occassions when he hits now and now its only when he's provoked. So its at least not random hittings like it use to be! LOL It will get better!


        • #5
          We have been through the same thing repeatedly with our 5 yo DS and 3 yo DS. I'll share what works for us. We have a system that if someone is being hurtful, whether it's verbal or physical, they need to go away and be alone for a little while until they cool off enough to be rational (usually their bedroom). We try to make it very clear that it's ok to be angry (and we empathize) but it's not ok to hurt others. We don't call it "time out" and we don't give them a set time - we let them determine for themselves when it's been long enough. They can play or throw a fit or whatever they want to do as long as they don't hurt anyone or anything. When they were much smaller and learning how to hit I would hold them still with the offending arm pinned to their side and explain that hitting is not ok. I would ask them if they're angry in an effort to provide them with a word to express their feelings rather than having to use a hitting gesture to express themselves. I felt that passive restraint for just a few seconds made more sense than hitting them back and was more effective than trying to rationalize with an 18 month old. Hitting is really not an issue for us anymore and it's easily curbed when it does rear up.


          • #6
            Hitting should be a developmental stage in my opinion. I know that not all children go through that but it is definitely more common than not (IMO). Here is a post that has some ideas that might help:

            Mama in PA, I can see that you're in tune with your children and I hope you don't mind my stepping in and offering a couple of suggestions on what has worked well in our house. Instead of having the child go to his or her room (even though you don't enforce a time limit, etc) perhaps have a "time-in" with them instead. When the child is angry and acting out, it might help to have a little one-on-one time with you or your spouse and the two of you can sort out the feelings together. I have found that this method works to such a level that we rarely have any hitting any longer.

            One other point I wanted to make, for clarification's purpose, is that restraining a child doesn't really fall in line with API's Positive Discipline principle. Of course if the child is a danger to him or herself then restraining is a safety measure but as a discipline tool it is something that is discouraged. I understand that your method was gentle but part of the purpose of the forums are to help offer clarification on API's Principles and how they apply to certain situations.

            I hope that you understand I am in no way singling you out, etc. Just wanting to offer some insight for others that may be reading on how a Principle-based approach to the situation would look.

            Thank you for being such an active member of our message board in our opening week, it is great to see other parents so passionate about parenting.


            • #7
              my second child hits, started when he was 6 mos! it's a spontaneous reaction for him, but began doing it more deliberately recently. something we do (more for the other child at this point, but beginning to be for him) is when he hits someone, i make it a point to model empathy toward the other child. i say, "oh, so and so is so sad. that must have hurt him. is there anything we can do to help him feel better?" and then i apologize to the child that was hit. this models empathy to both children and my older child (who has hit maybe 5 times in his life) is starting to act this way to other children who are hit, too.

              the goal of discipline is to teach, so i try to treat even tough behaviors as an opportunity for EVERYONE around-including myself-to learn.


              • #8
                Originally posted by PaxMamma View Post

                the goal of discipline is to teach, so i try to treat even tough behaviors as an opportunity for EVERYONE around-including myself-to learn.
                Thank you Dedra..
                and Dedra does do this very well too btw


                • #9
                  thanks, traci,you're sweet, but i REALLY do struggle w/it,just like everyone else.