Tips on stopping toddler hitting(17 Posts)
My almost 3yo has starting hitting other children more and I'm desperate to stop it.
Most of the time it's not in anger and he's not actually showing any aggression. It's almost to get a reaction eg he'll go up to his friend and if they don't respond to him immediately he'll push them (whilst smiling or laughing). Or he does it on impulse, he'll have something in his hand and hit with it.
He doesn't do it all the time and plays nicely a lot of the time too. He doesn't seem to do it to children he doesn't know, just ones he sees regularly.
I want to stop it before it becomes more of a problem. I usually do the warnings and remove strategy.
So yesterday for instance he pushed his friend so I told him "that's not nice, we don't hit or push." Then he hit his hand away from something so I told him "if you hit again, we are going home", he hit him for a third time with a toy he was holding later on so I said "right, we are going home now as you hit again" and I took him home kicking and screaming. This was over the space of 2.5 hours.
I told him once we were home that it is not nice to hit and he wasn't to do it anymore. He remembers the incident as he mentioned it to my mum this morning.
What else can I do? Any tips that have worked for you?
Is he old enough now to stop the warnings all together and just remove him straight away? He still seems like a little baby to me but he's almost a pre-schooler and I don't want to be the mum that can't see her child being a wee terror.
I should think at three years old you can just remind him whenever you arrive at a social event that if he hits someone even once then you will go straight home. Then be consistent. Just make sure you communicate the warning as you arrive every time, and go home again immediately.
Don't say, "if you hit again...". Say, "don't hit/do that again or we'll go home". Small children don't fully understand.
@Damntheman that's a good idea, so he still gets the 'warning' and someone doesn't have to be hit more than once for the consequence ￼
@wowfudge good tip about being more careful with the language I use.
He does seem to 'get' things after consistent consequences. He used to hit the tv with his toys if it wasn't on something he liked, I would warn him then remove the toy each time until he stopped doing it. I also hear him reminding himself out-loud to be careful with things that I've told him not to break etc. Or reminding himself he's not allowed to throw a certain thing etc.
I just don't understand why he's doing it. These are people he likes and actively seeks out.
I should add that sometimes his friends hit (and bite 🙈) him but I'm only focussing on his behaviour obviously as that's what I can hopefully change before he gets much older.
Oh I could have written your post about a year ago! What worked for us was a sticker chart for 'kind hands' which we would do every day after nursery. You can then spin a positive - rather than 'don't hit or we go home' it becomes 'remember to use your kind hands or we go home'. I also used to helicopter him all the time so I was right next to him if I sensed anything might happen and used that opportunity to model how to play nicely. He still has his moments but mostly is lovely and gentle now.
Do you use a naught step/spot? This worked brilliantly for all 4 of my DC.
As soon as they hit, get down to their level and tell them firmly that they mustn’t hit, it’s not kind and it will hurt the recipient. Tell him that if he hits again he will go on the step. This is his warning and has also provided a clear explanation for what behaviour is unacceptable and why. As soon as he does it again, put him straight on the step.
You MUST be consistent with returning him to the step for his 3 mins if he gets off (1 min for every year old) even if this takes 45 mins!! Once you win this ‘battle’ a few times and he knows you won’t back down, you should find that more often than not he stays there for 3 mins and after not very long, it will hopefully only take the warning stage to stop the behaviour happening again. It also deals with it in a quick manner and you can hug him when he’s finished, ask him for an apology for hitting and move straight on with your day.
I would say that at 3 he is well old enough to understand all of the above concepts and I’ve found that putting the effort in at this age pays off massively as they get older. I hardly ever have to use the step anymore, just issue the warning.
@whoami24601 how old is your child now if you don't mind me asking?
DS has absolutely no interest in stickers unfortunately, I think he's still at the stage where things need to pretty immediate to have any affect at all. It couldn't do any harm to try though with a similar thing (maybe cheap toy cars or nice shells / stones in a box).
Maybe I could bring a toy car in my pocket and tell him he can get it on the way home if he doesn't hit anyone?
I wouldn't mind helicoptering but when I've done it in the past I've been scoffed at by people (whose children I'm trying to protect lol!) so I feel a bit silly.
@Malteserdiet I don't use a step as I'd read it wasn't recommended for small children. Although they're all different aren't they. What do use a step/spot when you're out and about?
He's still 2, but almost 3 so I'm starting to get stricter and feel he doesn't have the 'excuse' of being a baby anymore (although I know he's still only little).
I used the step from when I knew they could comprehend what they were doing. For most of mine that was actually from around 19/20 months but all kids are different. When out and about you can use anything to hand instead, a rug, a chair, a random spot on the floor etc.
I found it an excellent tool and can be used for most unwanted behaviours. It also got me through the toddler years and I really hardly needed to use it since past about the age of 5.
The reason I like the method so much, besides it working well, is that it does not drag the punishment out and affect the mood of the day for any longer than the time served on there. It also leaves no room to escalate tempers on both sides and ends with a positive ‘right that’s it over with, done and moved on from’ opportunity. In the wider world as mine have got older, this ability to move on from moments of unhappiness or difficulty has served them well in other aspects of their lives too.
The problem with using going home as the first consequence is that he isn't then getting the chance to change his behaviour whilst the consequence is still in his mind.
I think you would be better using a time-out whilst still in the situation. I would also drop the warnings.
So if he hits, immediately pick him up with a firm "No, do not hit" turn him away from you and give attention to the child he has hit. Then something along the lines of "Charlie doesn't want to play with children who hit her, come and sit on the chair until you can behave nicely." Then after a few minutes "You can go and play again now once you have said sorry to Charlie, if you hit again we will go straight home it is not nice behaviour."
I think it sends the wrong message to have let him hit another child three times before there are consequences.
I have a 3 yo, there are some behaviours that result in immediate action, either going home or time out on a thinking spot. They include any kind of physical aggression (which thankfully is once in a blue moon) and running away/towards the road when we’re out.
I would probably limit play dates with a child that got away with it twice before anything was done as I wouldn’t want my child thinking it’s acceptable and only punishable on the third occasion. I think Adelino’s suggestion is a good way of handling it as then you don’t have to spend your life leaving play dates after five minutes!
I'll look into time out again, as far as I knew it wasn't recommended anymore but might be a good solution.
I would probably limit play dates with a child that got away with it twice before anything was done as I wouldn’t want my child thinking it’s acceptable and only punishable on the third occasion.
Totally agree btw and it is hard when he is hit and pushed too as he obviously has me telling him it's not allowed. I wonder sometimes if it's confusing for him. Anyway he's the only child I'm responsible for and I don't want him being 'that' child!
I think helicoptering him for a few weeks is also a good way forward as a preventative measure, to get him out of the 'habit' of being physical.
Maybe me being right next to him saying 'say hello and wave' to your friend (instead of bloody bumping into him and pushing him over as a greeting) would be a good start!
When he has a toy in his hand, being next to him reminding him how to play with it before he hits with it etc.
I like time out, my 3yo mainly hits me and his baby brother. Time out helps me cope and not shout, and there’s no reasoning with him while he attacks me (no special needs). However, since 3.5 he often just ignores time out, and I don’t really know what to do.
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