How To Make Toddler Hitting A Thing Of The Past In 10 Simple Steps

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toddler sisters hitting and fighting each other

Inside: While toddler hitting happens to even the sweetest of children, it doesn’t mean you should brush it under the carpet. Keep reading for ten strategies to stop your toddler from hitting.

Does your sweet, kind toddler have a tendency to turn into a fist swinging bundle of rage from time to time?

Yeah, mine does too!

Toddler hitting isn’t an uncommon thing. In fact, I think you’ll be hard pushed to find a parent who says that their toddler has never hit anyone (without it being a lie!).

While toddler hitting happens to even the sweetest of children, it doesn’t mean that we should brush it under the carpet. Toddler hitting is one of the lesser talked about child development subjects that I feel needs addressing.

Maybe parents don’t like to talk about toddler hitting because they feel embarrassed, but everyone’s child does it!

By talking openly about this topic, we’ll be better able to tackle it within our friendship circles so that we can one day have toddler hitting free playdates.

Keep reading if you want to understand why your toddler hits, how to prevent it, and healthy strategies that you can implement to help your toddler cope with this phase.

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Toddler Hitting Might Be Normal Development – But That Doesn’t Mean You Should Allow It

Just because your toddler might hit another and then they might hit back doesn’t make it even. Yes, toddlers hit, but you shouldn’t allow them to continue to hit, or worse still, turn a blind eye and wait for them to grow out of it.

You need to help your child in this vital part of their development by teaching them right from wrong and helping them to learn the skills they need to identify and cope with their emotions.

Toddler hitting can begin from as early as one year old and can be prevented even if your child doesn’t fully understand why the behavior is wrong.

Related:12 Lessons About Raising A Strong-Willed Toddler You Need To Learn

toddler girl with angry face and pursed lips

Why Do Toddlers Hit?

First and foremost, toddler hitting isn’t the result of something you’ve done ‘wrong’ as a parent, no matter what anyone says. Instead, this is the result of a child feeling frustrated, impulsive, and unable to voice their feelings all at the same time.

Toddlers aren’t yet in control of their emotions or impulses. And to make matters worse, their language skills aren’t fully developed.

The good news is that you can teach your toddler that hitting is wrong before they’re able to understand the reason why fully.

Things like moving to a new classroom and being introduced to new peers. Changes at home such a new baby. Or a change in a parent’s work schedule can easily make a toddler feeling overwhelmed.

These kinds of feelings and the inability to express and cope with that can all lead to a toddler physically acting out.

How To Prevent Toddler Hitting Before It Starts?

Toddler hitting is inevitable, and it will happen to every child at some point. Instead of waiting for it to happen, here are some proactive things you can do to prevent toddler hitting before it has the chance to start.

  1. The most important thing you can do is teach your toddler to tell you how they’re feeling. Then validate their feelings while showing them how to take appropriate action.
  2. Redirecting your toddler when they become frustrated will give them time to calm down before they become aggressive.
  3. Give them alternative ways to let out aggression, such as physical activity.

In an ideal world, we’d always be able to stop toddler hitting before it starts. But that’s not the reality of it. Children can be unpredictable and explosive in their behaviors. So don’t beat yourself up if you don’t catch them before they lose their temper.

You need to remain calm and follow my next piece of advice to stop your toddler from hitting. Especially if it’s already started.

angry toddler boy covering face with arm hand in fist

How Do You Stop Toddler Hitting?

 With the right strategies in place, toddler hitting can be stopped relatively quickly. If your toddler hits, you need to remove them from the situation while staying calm and in control.

It would help if you were supportive of your toddler during this challenging time. The best way to do that is to tell them that you understand why they’re feeling the way they are. But at the same time, help them to know why you stopped their behavior.

Kids learn by watching others’ social behavior, so don’t just tell them what to do. You need to show them too. Once they’ve done the right thing, you need to praise them for it immediately.

10 Strategies To Stop Your Toddler From Hitting

  1. DON’T spank or slap a toddler for hitting and don’t punish. While their behavior is wrong and needs to be corrected, they don’t yet understand why it’s wrong. So punishment won’t help them to learn the correct behavior.
  2. DON’T worry about other people’s opinions. Every parent has been or will go through this stage with their child at some point.
  3. DON’T force the child to apologize. This will only make them even more upset and frustrated as they won’t understand why they have to apologize.
  4. DO supervise closely and remain calm. You must keep an eye on them to try and step in before toddler hitting happens. At the same time, remain calm because your child will feed off your emotions. If you remain calm it will help them to be calm.
  5. DO provide empathy and set boundaries. It would help if you validated your child’s feelings while setting boundaries at the same time. Tell them it’s okay to feel how they feel then show them the appropriate action to take.
  6. DO help your child to calm down. Toddler hitting happens which they’re frustrated, so helping them to calm down is vital.
  7. DO practice alternative strategies for them to let out their aggression. Use physical activity or activities that require them to focus, so they become distracted from their aggression.
  8. DO give logical consequences. If your child begins hitting while at the playground, remove your child immediately. Sit with your child while you watch other children playing nicely. Explain he can go pack and play when he is ready to join the fun without hitting others. 
  9. DO reinforce good behavior. Rather than your child only receiving attention when misbehaving, try to catch him when he is playing nicely. Reinforce his good behavior with your attention with a compliment or an offer to play together. Soon he will see the pattern that good behavior is rewarded.
  10.  DO ask for help if you need it. Some children’s aggression is too much for a parent to handle alone.

    Talk to your child’s doctor if you feel your child’s aggression is beyond what is “normal”.

Such as:

  • unusually aggressive for weeks
  • frightening other children
  • your efforts to diffuse his behavior have had little effect

There you have it! 10 strategies to stop your toddler from hitting.

Preventing Toddler Hitting

Just remember, that despite hitting being a normal phase in your toddler’s development, it doesn’t mean you should ignore their aggressive behavior. Make sure your toddler knows that hitting others is unacceptable and show him other ways to express his feelings.

Related: 24 Activities For 1-Year-Olds That Spark Imagination

Your Turn

Do you have tips or tricks to end toddler hitting? I would love for you to share in the comments below some techniques you have used to deal with toddler aggression!

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