Beaten up by my toddler and so down about it(56 Posts)
I feel like I'm constantly being beaten up by my own baby! Not really, but I would like advice from anyone who's been through similar.
My DS is 17 months and every day he hits, slaps, pinches, bites, scratches me. A lot of the time it's when he's breastfeeding. He'll just casually lean an arm back then slap me full-force in the face or neck. If I tell him no he thinks it's hilarious and repeats it with gusto. Once he hurt me enough to make me cry, which he thought was hysterically amusing and an invitation to pull my hair and hit me harder.
I'm also having a horrible time with him hitting other children at soft play/on play dates etc. No provocation is necessary; he'll just reach out and casually slap the face of a passing child. Again, if I tell him no he finds it funny and is even more keen to go on the offence. I'm so embarrassed, and always apologise to the por child and other parent. Parents tell me it's a phase and it will pass, but my DS seems rather more into this phase than his peers. It's so frustrating as I just don't understand why he does it. Can anyone offer advice?
If it helps you to know: he's an extremely attached baby. Breastfeeds every 2-3 hours day and night, co-sleeps, very clingy to me. I'm a full time mum. He's only ever spent a couple of hours at a time away from me, and only then with my DH or family. He's very distressed if he's not with me. He breastfeeds to sleep and only I can put him to sleep. He had a very traumatic start to life and endured a lot of horrible, painful medical procedures. He's also had some ongoing health issues, and has experienced a lot of pain through these. I don't know if any of this is relevant to the hitting, but it may help to explain why he is so attached to me.
DH and I are very quiet, non-aggressive people. DS has never experienced or witnessed any violence, or even any raised voices at home.
The whole thing - him hitting both me and his contemporaries - is really getting me down and I'd appreciate any advice or words of wisdom.
I think you need to start being firm and removing him from the situation that he is in - he is old enough now to learn.
So, if he hits you when breastfeeding, stop breastfeeding him immediately and explain why. If you do this every time he hits you, he will soon get the message.
Ditto with the soft play areas/play dates - as hard as it may be, I think you need to give him a warning the first time that he does it that you will go home if he does it again and follow through with the threat if he hits/bites a second time.
He does it because he is getting a reaction from you...don't react, stay calm but firm and he will soon learn the consequences of his actions.
I agree totally with ceebee. He is certainly old enough to be taught that this behaviour is not acceptable.
I can empathise with your feelings about being hit - DS1 used to think it was hilarious to hurt me by hitting or pulling my hair, at around the 17mo mark funnily enough. He doesn't do it any more (now 21mo), hasn't for a few months in fact. I used to resent having to stay quiet and not give him a funny response when he hurt me because I knew that would just egg him on. I used to detach him from my hair with a firm NO and he would go in the playpen for 2 minutes. I'm not sure the playpen method worked tbh - it's more likely he just grew out of it.
Hopefully yours will do the same soon!
I get the impression (and I could well be wrong) that your little one has a very strong character. I think you are enabling his clinginess by notbeing more firm with him. He probably thinks that he's in charge. He want to posses you (suckling like a new born) and is getting his own way at bed times and throwing a tantrum if you go out.
Imagine him at 3 when he is louder and bigger and able to use even more demanding and beguiling language to bend you to his will.
As for the lashing out at you and other kids. Do you physically restrain his arms when he is lashing out? Obviously not with an aim to hurt him in any way. Just to limit his movement.
Do you remove him from the situation immediately if he has hurt another child?
Are you using a low clear voice when you tell him no. Make eye contact and be dominant.
Hope I don't sound harsh. This will be a disappearing problem. And if you are happy with doing everything for him and being there 24/7 for him then fine! Will you be having any other children? Bear in mind that if the answer is yes, he will have to share you one day. Helping and allowing him to become more independent of you will be in his best interests and yours.
Calmly pick him up and put him somewhere else safe when he does it, like a naughty step or his cot. This worked to stop my DS pulling my hair at a similar age.
DS is a similar age and horrible as it sounds we've found he needs to get upset before things sink in - if he hurts me I give a sharp, quite loud NO, take his hands, look him firmly in the eye and say "you must NOT hurt mummy. Do NOT pull hair (etc)". He usually cries but that's the only way it seems to go in. I leave him for a minute and then go and give him a cuddle and say calmly "please don't pull my hair, it really hurts" and them move on.
I think you do need to be quite firm about some things and hurting for fun is one of them.
Oh and we also model 'gentle hands' and show how nice it feels to stroke each other if he starts to seem a bit slap-happy.
Thanks for all replies. DH and I have read through and discussed them all. DH feels like there is no real solution and we just have to wait for this to pass, and I am leaning towards that way of thinking too. He is only a baby, and most definitely would not understand being given a warning etc., or an explanation. I always show him gentle stroking, and make him stroke gently any child he has hurt (if said child hasn't run screaming in the other direction!), but now I've started to notice that he'll hit a child then immediately start stroking him/her. So he's got one half of the idea but not the other.
I'm a bit stuck between giving him no reaction and being firm with him. They seem to me to be opposite actions. I do agree that he is hitting for attention, and when I'm at home alone with him I don't react at all when he hurts me, as I've found that even grabbing his arm and/or saying no seems to encourage him further. However, this isn't an option when we're out, as it's just not fair to other parents or children if I totally ignore him hurting his playmates.
Oh, and no, we won't be having any more children. We've been to hell and back over the last year and a half, and the whole experience is not one either of us wants to repeat.
How about no reaction, but removing him from the situation? So if he hits you, maybe don't say anything at all but silently put him in his room / playpen etc for two minutes? I see the point about not reacting but he also needs to see some disincentive for doing these things. Sorry you have had such a bad time in general.
My almost-2yo is similarly clingy, co-sleeping etc. He went through this stage too, finding it hilarious to pull my hair, stick his fingers up my nose etc while bf. I think it was mainly a phase that he grew out of naturally, although I would say to him, as calmly as possible, "mummy sore, not hit mummy" etc.
You may find this book useful
If your child doesn't understand "no", I think he may need a developmental check up. Usually a baby understands "no" very young, as long as they are taught it. Please don't allow him to hit you and hope he will grow out of it, you will end up with a six year old who still lashes out for fun.
I meant to say- in my case it was clear my DS enjoyed having an impact on the world. He was definitely exploring his capabilities and toddlers will touch reach other through interest- but within a few months (I can't remember exactly) he now understands more about gentle touch etc. He also had a brief phase of practising "kiss it better" by bopping me then kissing my arm or whatever better, again just something he had to practice.
I kinda agree with Colditz, no stops any undesirable behaviour immediately here.
If he doesn't behave while breastfeeding then remove him, do not continue when he is hurting you.
I am usually very much of the "oh, they are too little to understand" camp, but this time I am very much with colditz and other posters. A calm but firm "no" and either holding his hands or putting him down the first time he hits you is required imho. It will be harder for him in the long run if you let him get away with behaviour that leaves you in tears. You won't do him any harm if you just calmly put him down or hold his hands. And if you start doing it now it will be much easier for you to bring yourself to do it more effectively when he is 4 and having real strops.
Agree with those that say stop BFing, and just put him down somewhere safe and walk away for a minute. Totally ignore the behaviour. At 17 months he's too young to understand anything else really.
ou do need gto perfect your stern face.
if he grabs you
if you do nothing you are asking for trouble later imo. if you do nothing you are effectively telling him its ok to hit out.
you are the parent. you should not be allowing your toddler to hit and bite with no consequences. yes he is a baby - but a baby old enough to start to push te boundaries and old enough to understand where the line should be drawn.
if you do nothing i think you will make a rod for your own back.
you do not have to react with anger - simply stop what you are doing and remove him - actions have consequences. he needs to learn that.
my DS has aspergers, but there is no way i would ever be a punch bag for him. In no other walk of life are you allowed to hit out - so you are doing him no favours by doing nothing and expecting it to pass.
you need to actively seek to stop this.
if ge grabs you then pull his hand away and say "don't do that" or "stop that".
I've taken to wagging my finger at dd to show I mean business.
it's really hard to do stern without sounding angry though
My dd was a bit like this at one stage. I found that immediately ignoring her helped. If she was on my lap I plonked her down and walked off. She didn't like that one bit. She worked it out eventually. It's a bit like dog training, ignore the bad behaviour and reward the good! I don't mean ignore him if he's hurting other children obviously, you need to remove him from the situation.
Well at that age my DS wouldn't have properly understood no, I don't think.
So I made sure I was always always within reach of him while in a situation with other kids so I could intervene before he could whack them. I'd catch his hand, tell him 'no, we don't hit' and then immediately distract him with a different activity.
When it came to breastfeeding, he was more of a pincher / biter. There is some good stuff on kellymom.com about nursing manners and the general recommendation is when they are rough, tell them no biting or whatever, put them down somewhere safe and walk away for a minute. Then come back and start again. And repeat.
For us the key has always been keeping it very low key so as not to be entertaining whilst ensuring that we take responsibility for not allowing him to hurt anyone (including ourselves) while he learns not to / grows out of it.
Babies and toddlers understand far more than we generally give them credit for, they are young, not stupid. Say "no", remove him from the situation and give minimal attention. Either he will learn because he understands or he will learn by conditioning. If a dog can be trained then a toddler certainly can.
Also, I don't quite see the logic in getting him to stroke the kid he has just whacked. I think this is a complicated and confusing message - so he thinks that the process is hit and then stroke.
I would think it might be better to drop that altogether, prevent the hit in the first place (yes it means you'll hardly ever get to sit down when he's with other kids) and then show him that its much more interesting to do this thing over here...
At 17 months he is well able to understand a firm NO you don't need to shout but you must remove him from the situation.It is NOt funny and you are doing him a disservice by 'waiting for it to pass'. You are just reinforcing the sense that his behaviour is acceptable. Quite soon other mums will be avoiding your son-no one wants their baby hurt and if you wont stop him they will by removing their children.
I realise that saying no and disciplining your baby can be very difficult but if you don't act now, you are storing up a whole heap of problems later on. 17 months is old enough to learn consequences of actions and much easier to do it now than when he is older and it will be more difficult.
He is only a baby, and most definitely would not understand being given a warning etc., or an explanation
I disagree... Babies much younger understand a "no".
If he laughs when you tell him off then you are not telling him off firm enough.. Low clear voice, stern face, removal from situation. I have a son who needs a really clear message too.
This will get only worse the older (bigger, stronger) he gets.
VicarInATutu said it very well.
What everybody said, really. Also, good point that other parents will start avoiding. There's a bully in DS nursery who pushes and shoves other kids a lot and I wouldn't really hang out with them although he has a lovely Mum.
Having said all that, there is still everything for you to sort this out and if you. Are consistently not tolerating this behaviour then he will actually grow out of it. Good luck!
Agree with pps, you need to remove him when he hits. If he hit one of my dc more than once I would be having a word with you. My dd went through a pushing stage at similar age and I had to stalk her when we were out, never had a warm cup of tea!
I know where you're coming from and it's no joke, scratches to the face, nips and bites get you down. My toddler was the same. He is much better at 2 but sometimes reverts. I actually resorted to hauling him up like a cub and plonking him in time out which seemed to work, giving zero attention. At 17 months though it's so difficult, try not to react, no squeals or even an ouch which can be a fun reaction for the child. Place at arms length and say we don't hit/scratch etc. But i think it might take months to sink in.
Agree with other posters, you really need to start being much, much more firm. There is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with saying "no" to a 17-mo and carrying out consequences like stopping BF any time he is violent, removing him from any setting where he is violent (after a warning) and removing him from you any time he attacks you. Plus, of course remember to heap on the praise and rewards whenever he is kind and gentle.
It's best if you are not angry or upset, just firm, matter-of-fact and consistent. Toddlers need this - it's not cruel, and he will understand. You're the big, surrounding, authoritative figure in his life ad it is from you that he needs to learn what is and isn't OK and how to behave - otherwise he'll be floundering around and get more and more like this in an attempt to get a response and boundaries from you. I know this sounds like psycho waffle but I've seen it happen with parents who don't want to say no and who think toddlers are too little to learn to control themselves. They end up being a punchbag for a 4, 5, 6-yo instead.
Stop feeling bad about being the boss and laying down the law - IME he wants you do to that.
Do think you need to nip this in the bud. I have a very good friend whom I no longer see because I got fed up of her ds being aggressive to mine. A firm but not harsh no and just putting him down and walking away worked wonders with both of mine at that age and we also ebf'ed and co slept. Letting your son know what is acceptable and what is not is an important part of a loving and nurturing relationship.
btw I should have also said - I feel for you as I know how horrible it is when a baby/toddler hurts you badly enough to make you cry. DS pulled my hair once in a shop, very, very hard and I'd had a tough day and I burst into tears, it was awful. But the firm approach people on this thread have been describing did work, over time.
First tackle the hitting at home, and stop going to playgroups for a while until the hitting at home has stopped. otherwise it is too much to tackle at once
When he hits you when breastfeeding, remove him calmly from the the breast and put him down, look away from him and say calmly "no hitting". If he is just crying but not hitting, give him your attention again after only a few seconds and show him how to touch you gently when breastfeeding.
He may get upset and try to hit you again, if he does this turn your back and refuse to look at him. When he stops hitting you can give him your attention again and how to touch gently. Put him back on the beast. If he hits again, repeat etc.
Use a similar technique when he hits you at other times. He wants your attention or reaction and hitting is working, make sure it doesn't.
As well as doing this technique I would look into a play therapist. Your son has had some traumatic events happen to him and he has no verbal skills to process his feelings about this. He can do this through play. He needs help to process with his emotions and he also needs firm but gentle boundaries from you to help him feel safe. In time and with effort this will resolve but it won't if you just ignore it.
I have one almost the same age. I am a softie with toddlers but the following 2 things persuade me that it is important to be firm:
1. Toddlers' understanding is many months ahead of their speech so he may understand a lot more than you think; and
2. It vital to teach them to do what you say as soon as you can or they won't listen when they are in dangerous situations eg running towards the road. So it's really about keeping them safe.
I agree with the stalking Alan. . Still do it, up on the play frame with the toddlers. I feel like doing a David Attenborough commentary at times.
Ps also agree with other posters that play dates may become a problem. I would be ok with my son hanging out with a hitter perhaps if I felt the parent was taking appropriate steps to prevent it. I would not be happy with it if I felt not enough was being done to stop my Dc being hit.
How will he ever understand no if you never say it to him?
Presumably you and dh have been speaking to your ds for 17+months already. If you think he can't understand what you're saying - why bother?
I think you are heading towards a hard few years if you continue on the path you're on. Yes, kids grow out of things but, usually with guidance from their parents. They don't bring themselves up. That's your job.
I know he's had a very hard start in life and I'm sorry for all of you for that but it doesn't mean you have to compensate by being soft with him. You are really not doing him any favours. He won't just magically 'get it' if you don't teach him.
This is the link for Kellymom nursing manners
Both of mine were biters while bf for a short time at around 9-10 months. While not old enough to appreciate they were hurting me, they certainly understood it meant they lost the boob and were placed on the floor every time they bit me.
I think the same should apply when he hurts you.
Unlatch, say 'no hurting' and place him on the floor - turn away and give no other reaction. If he is doing it to explore your reaction then don't reward it! I don't think you need to shout or scare him, just a firm 'no hurting', loss of the pleasant snuggle, and mum busies herself with something else
Thing is, what does NO mean, really? He's hearing "blah blah blah" because there are no consequences to his actions.
When he bites or hits or whatever, either plonk him down on the floor (if you're BFing for eg) or if he's at a play date shut him away/naughty step or whatever.
It always amazes me the number of parents who wring their hands and say "I always say NO but it doesn't work...."
Of course it doesn't if it isn't accompanied by some sort of consequence.
Oh and if your little menace hit my child and instead of you doing something constructive you tried to make your child STROKE mine I'd be less than impressed.
I think that you do have to do something to show him that this isn't acceptable. I am also an attached/gentle parent and I thought that it would pass as DS got older and was more able to understand his actions, how to get stuff across better etc, but this wasn't the case. I wish I had started showing him some kind of consequence for his actions. Luckily he never hit other children, but it's still not great that he is hurting me.
It doesn't have to be harsh - I'm not advocating banishing him to another room - just something which gives him a clear message - this is not OK. Something that has worked well for my AP friends is having a "calm down" or "thinking" chair, corner or step, so that the emphasis isn't on "naughty" or it being a punishment, just that the child needs to be removed from the situation to give them a chance to calm down without hurting anyone. And referring to it as the thinking chair/calm down corner etc means that they can go and use it for themselves too if they want to because it doesn't have a negative connotation. You can make it cosy with blankets etc if you like.
I also agree with withdrawing the positive attention e.g. playing/nursing etc if he is hitting or scratching you. Again this does not need to be done harshly/accusingly, but if he hits other children, they won't want to play with him. You're just showing him that he needs to behave respectfully towards people when they are being nice and spending time with him.
YY I don't agree with the logic of replacing hitting with stroking - it's not a natural response. That works for tiny babies who don't understand how to vary the force by which they are grabbing someone, not for toddlers. Toddlers need a way to express their frustration without hurting.
Of course he is old enough to understand 'no' and being removed from the breast if he pinches or hits you.
Don't make the mistake of thinking 'he's only a baby, he's only a baby'. He is a baby, but they understand an awful lot by this age and now is when you need to introduce a little gentle discipline to steer them away from undesirable behaviour.
Otherwise in another few months you will be 'that mum and toddler' that people start to avoid.
I'm sorry that your experience of motherhood has been so traumatic, and I can understand why it has made you feel as you do about your son - that you can't discipline him.
But please do, for your own sake, otherwise you are in for a tough few years of trying to control his behaviour.
My daughter went through a phase of biting me or trying to bite - think she was about 9 months? I said no! Very loudly, very firmly and put her alone in a cot or five mins. She understood 'no' perfectly well.
I have other friends who refuse to discipline a 3 year old because he is 'too little' to understand. I think they are very wrong, but I know their intentions are good. But there is no magic switch in his brain that will make him 'old enough' at 4 or 5 to understand. He has been allowed to be aggressive for a long time now and I worry for him and how this will impact on his relationships with other children.
Maybe the problem is that you have a child who is not merely a toddler with toddler's energy, but he is developing into a person who is temperamentally very different to both you and your husband? He may react in ways differently to your understanding of the world and that can make it hard.
But I agree with everyone else - he has to understand and conform to the rule that you don't just whack others when you feel like it, or this will bring serious problems all along the line.
My ds went through the same stage at around this age although it was just to me. We found that by putting him on the floor without saying anything or racing and ignoring him until his behaviour changed (ie when he came over and was gentle, brought a book). We then praised the positive behaviour.
We found alot of the time his behaviour was attention seeking or him clumsily trying to learn how to socialise. By making a big deal if the behaviour it gave him the attention he wanted.
(this is what the hv also recommended)
As he gets older and develops speech we then got him to apologise for any hitting etc but we still use the controlled ignoring for temper tantrums etc
I understand your thoughts that 17months is to young for no etc but you really aren't that far away from terrible two tantrums and whilst not everyone suffers them if he is already hitting its likely to get a lot worse once he reaches that stage.
My daughter is a biter/ kisser - to begin with the kissing was cute but randomly it would turn into a nasty bite. The same with if we were out and she went to kiss someone else and they pulled away it would become a bite. Shouting or getting cross did nothing for her, we through trail and error came to the tactics that if we realise which way its going in time say "no biting mummy only likes nice kisses" which normally changes the bite into an over the top sloppy kiss or if it doesn't or if she catches you by surprise I immediately get up and walk away from her. It's the one thing she really hates.
In public it's keeping constant attention and interrupting before it happens or grabbing her straight away and making her say sorry to kid and parent concerned and then out of play area. She learnt sorry and that it means she's done wrong at 19 months because of this.
As someone else has said they understand an awful lot more than they can say.
How about seeing if there's a Toddler Calm class near you?
I agree that you do need to say something to him, otherwise you're giving out the message that it's ok to hit and ok to be hit. I don't like the idea of ignoring though - he's obviously acting out big emotions, possibly due to whatever happened early on, like you suggested. My DS is also 17 mo and bites/hits/hair pulls most days, though not excessively. I also practice attachment/gentle parenting and when he does bite or hit, I firmly say "no biting/hitting, biting/hitting hurts mummy" if he's bitten, ill say "you can't bite people but we can find something you can bite", then we look for something together, like a think wooden block or something. If he bites me while breastfeeding, he comes off straight away but I don't ignore him. With hitting I say "gentle touch" and he does the face stroke thing too, it wasn't intentional but it does stop him hitting/grabbing. Hair pulling is a new one, we're still working on that!
With gentle parenting (or any parenting) it is important to set boundaries - he needs them to feel safe.
Oh, I meant to say, he might need another outlet for his anger/aggression. Check out "roughhousing". A friend's little girl was hitting and they started roughhousing or play fighting and the hitting stopped because she had an outlet for her aggression.
When they slap put them down and walk away for thirty seconds. It's the lack of attention which will make a bug difference IMO (parent of a biter)
My DS does exactly this but is only 9mo. He is doing it more as a habit of feeding though, he's trying to get more milk/faster flow and he's extremely strong so it hurts. He's been walking for ages so we had to teach him 'no' early on. He went through a stage of finding it hilarious, but now will walk away from whatever I am saying no to 60% of the time, so they can understand 'no' very early. With the bf I would say 'no' calmly 'it hurts mummy' or something similar, take him off and wait for it to register. When you put him back on, say 'gently' or similar and lots of praise when he does it right. Don't give much attention when he hurts you, just repeat the same steps, I think anyway!
Lamazeroo - I think some of the posters here are being a bit harsh to be fair. You sound like a lovely mother and have obviously had a rough couple of years. Watching your child be unwell and in paincan not have been easy. It is totally understandable that he wants and needs you.
Having a child that hits is very hard, but he is still so little that I very much doubt it's 'aggression' or anything to worry about. He does need to know that behaviour isn't nice and some of the suggestions above are great - staying calm, removing from situation, stopping a feed. He will get it. And you're not alone!
Rednellie, infants do feel anger, just as they feel hunger or joy - it's perfectly normal. And toddlers do act out these big emotions, sometimes by being aggressive. It is nothing to worry about because it's totally normal.
No I know that, what I was saying is some posters were sort of implying the behaviour was out of the ordinary and that this boy was somehow aggressive, using that word as a label.
I have a daughter who gets very angry and can be very physically aggressive but she's not defined by that. And we are working on it
IME & IMO We, as parents, need to begin to instil the morals and values we have at an early age and the first 3 or 4 years are crucial for beginning to set boundaries for our DC.
I don't think any of the pp's have been harsh or needlessly blunt. I think you've had a lot of sound advice.
It's yours and your DH responsibility as loving parents (and it's obvious from your OP, that you are) to begin to mould your DS into the person he's going to be, now. He needs your guidance and that means being firm in these instances. That's good parenting.
You could continue to do nothing in the hope he grows out of it but you seem really quite upset by this already. Alternatively, you could decide that now is the time to take positive action and show him how to grow out of it.
Ultimately, you'll do what you feel is best and that's ok. I hope whatever you choose sees an end to this behaviour, soon.
Afternoon! I have 3 DSs. The older two (DS3 is only a few weeks old) definitely went through rather 'Physical' phases. DS1 (now 6) was a real shover and used to push other children while DS2 (now 3) used to hit. I say 'used to' because from an early age they were taught that this behaviour was not ok. Like many of the previous posters have suggested, when the pushed or hit other children they were removed from the situation with a very firm no. They are happy, well adjusted boys and although aren't little angels, play well with lots of different children. I believe that children are not born understanding what's acceptable behaviour, it's up to us as parents to teach them. This is just as much a part of their education as learning to read and write. OP - you sound like you've had a tough time over the last 18 months, best of luck with it all and you're definitely not the only one who's had to deal with this situation!
Our DS went through a hitting phase at the same age - it lasted a couple of months and was horrible (especially when other parents think that saying no firmly a few times should sort it!) It's hard to know how much he just grew out of it and how much the things that we did helped.
You have the big advantage at this age that you can physically stop them repeatedly hurting people fairly easily. They take more notice of physical actions than words when they are that young, so absolutely definitely put him down or face him away from you if he hurts you while feeding. The thing for us that made the biggest difference with other toddlers was teaching him what 'gentle' meant, and then rather than telling him 'no', telling him to be gentle. It didn't have a 100% success rate but it prevented repeated hitting more than anything else we tried.
I'd suggest minimising interactions with other toddlers to what you feel you have the emotional resources to cope with and planning in advance what you are going to say/ how you are going to deal with hitting. I found the book Easy to Love, Hard to Discipline by Becky Bailey useful for giving me 'scripts' to use that I felt happy with, that came from a loving rather authoritarian approach.
There's also dealing with the root cause of the problem - he's probably hurting other because he's got big emotions (which may or may not be partially caused by the medical stuff - you'll never know) rather than because he doesn't know that he shouldn't hit. I found the Hand in Hand Parenting site useful for this www.handinhandparenting.org/articles along with Janet Lansbury www.janetlansbury.com/tag/hitting/ . I also found the books Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen were also quite good at dealing with ways to make life less stressful for a toddler and deal with underlying emotions.
Good luck! It's a tough stage to get through, but may well make you a more confident parent in the long run.
I agree with snazzy earlier on - remove him from the situation, stop feeding, say no very firmly and sternly and don't lose the plot or, at the other end of the spectrum, appear too passive. You mentioned that you and your partner are both quiet and non-aggressive. If toddlers are being a bit wild and uncontrollable then that can be ineffective when trying to teach right and wrong behaviour. Whatever age, a toddler needs to be taught what is naughty and wrong. I know he is young and won't fully grasp discipline and certainly explanations will go over his head, but don't underestimate what he can learn at that age. We started using the naughty mat (I expect some would tell me that 'time out spot' would be a better term but hey too late now!) with ds1 at 2 years, and it has worked brilliantly. He has never attempted to get off it (I know that this isn't universal and it doesn't work for some, but I think 2 years was a good age to implement it) and it has deterred bad behaviour as he got older due to the threat of going on it. Just to clarify, he only went on it for the same number of minutes as his age in years, not exactly a long time. But I do think that little ones start to understand boundaries and consequences from a young age.
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