What To Do If Your Toddler Keeps Hitting Others
What causes a toddler to hit?
Toddlers hitting is more common than it is not. It’s completely normal, but that doesn’t take away the feeling of uneasiness and want to research for more knowledge. Hitting can have different causes, and it’s a good thing to identify what it’s all about.
Toddlers go through a rapid and comprehensive learning curve through the toddler years. It’s a time where most things are new, and a will and determination emerge or enhances.
In this period in life, toddlers encounter new things every day and learn multiple things simultaneously. They are in the process of learning a language, understanding how things work, and deciphering why some things are approved, and others are not. Not being able to understand or getting others to know what they want, getting the toy they want, or trying something that grownups don’t allow. It’s frustrating.
Imagine being in a situation where others don’t speak your language, and you can’t communicate effectively, you are continuously being corrected or don’t understand what’s happening.
That is your toddler’s everyday life. They are in the process of learning, and it’s been said that all learning involves some level of frustration. Frustration is the feeling of trying without succeeding.
According to the frustration-aggression theory, aggression is often a result of frustration. Frustration isn’t always followed by aggression, though. But to hinder aggression, one needs to be able to control emotion, something that few toddlers are able to do yet.
Frustration is a necessary part of every learning process, and childhood is one long learning process.
– Jesper Juul
Sometimes you can also see a toddler seemingly happy hit someone or something. It can seem strange since most people associate hitting with anger and aggression. Children are small scientists. They don’t learn in a conventional school setting only. They experiment with something and observe what happens. This is due to curiosity and a wish to learn and understand.
You hit when your needs aren’t met
Generally, children hit or misbehave in our eyes when their needs aren’t being met but are unable to communicate more constructively. This isn’t strange nor abnormal. It’s a process of learning.
Your and other people’s response to your child’s hitting
What is problematic, though, is often adults’ response to a toddler hitting. We tend to feel as bad parents when this happens and feel pressure from others to make it stop. When feeling pressured, we worry more, and it quickly occupies our minds. When pressured, we not seldomly act harsher when dealing with hitting.
Of course, hitting isn’t okay, and no one should accept it, but understanding your own emotions and the stress that you might experience will help reduce the pressure and possible harsh reaction.
It’s also good to know why it’s happening, to have an action plan if hitting happens, and to be prepared for what to say and do to others if it happens.
How to handle it
What not to do
I’ll start with what not to do when a toddler hits. That is to yell and punish him. Treating a child poorly usually results in the child treating others poorly. It easily creates a downward spiral.
What if my toddler hits often
Hitting isn’t acceptable, and of course, others shouldn’t be scared of being hurt when playing with a specific child. If your toddler often turns to hitting, biting, kicking, or pushing others, it’s good to keep close and observe your toddler as he interacts with others. Watch for triggers, what anticipates hitting, and how he acts and behaves. If you see a pattern, you can start to predict when it’s about to happen, interrupt a blow, name his emotions, and have a ready self-control technique.