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2 year old hitting other kids PLEASE help me!!

(24 Posts)
mamaJK Thu 04-Nov-10 11:22:37

My little boy is 26 months and is hitting other kids - not usually so bad it hurts them seriously but enough to shock them into crying which he seems to think is funny.
Lately if they get too close he will stick his hand out and grab a handful of hair.

I'm getting to the point where i don't want to leave the house. I took him over to my neighbour's house and he pushed or hit her little boy (about 18 mths) 4 times!!
It seems to be worse with kids he is bigger than (nice).

I got down on his level and told him very loudly don't hit and after the 3rd time said if he did it one more time we would go home. It wasn't very hard but obviously he is much bigger and it was enough to make the other little one fall on his bottom when he pushed him but what really upset me was the last time he took a toy and smacked him on the forehead with it. This was the 4th offence (in under an hour) and this time we did leave. I am sure I overstayed my welcome but it's a really hard thing to follow through on because that threat hurts me more than him as I am left stuck in the house with a boisterous 2 yr old!

Plus I feel I need to get out and tackle this by seeing other people - he starts nursery next year and I'm terrified he will still be doing this or it will get worse.
Or maybe nursery is exactly what he needs - no doubt there will be some kids who push or hit back.

Please help me with some discipline techniques I am terrified I'm not coming down on this hard enough and am at a loss what else to say.

Thanks very much for ANY help or past experience or advice you could give me...

doittomorrow Thu 04-Nov-10 12:17:26

It is awful isn't it, but I really think it is normal. My DS1 who is now 3.7 started doing this from about 18 months. Mixing with other children was an incredibly stressful experience as I had to watch him like a hawk ready to intervene if he looked like he was going to bash someone. I used to warn him several times, remove him from the situation for a minute or two and then if the behaviour continued we would leave (I always warned him in advance this would be the result if he continued with the bad behaviour). I think you are dealing with it in the best way, telling him it is not acceptable and then following through with consequences by leaving. It is a phase and it will not last forever.

mamaJK Thu 04-Nov-10 12:25:17

Thanks so much!! so has your little one outgrown it and if so when did it happen?
do you just have to wait it out or did you do something else? just keep telling them? i really feel like i should be doing more!!

You have described what it's like perfectly - hovering like a hawk. Not relaxing at all i have to psych myself up for every visit!

doittomorrow Thu 04-Nov-10 12:41:27

Fingers and toes crossed, yes he seems to have outgrown this phase. Although thats not to say there are not times when I have to pull him to one side and give him a talking to about pushing/not talking nicely or being a general pain in the bum. I can't remember exactly when things improved, and there was certainly no overnight change in his behaviour, gradually things got better, but I think by about 3 I was feeling more relaxed at playgroups! He is now at pre school, happy, sociable and gets on well with others. He has a younger brother who is 2 and they are often at each others throats - but again I'm praying thats normal!
I just kept telling him the behaviour was not acceptable, watching, trying to intervene before he lashed out and following up with consequences. Oh, and I did keep taking him to playgroups, soft play etc, it was rarely enjoyable for me and I would eye the other mums sitting sipping tea with great envy while I hovered close, but not too close in the event of an incident.

mamaJK Thu 04-Nov-10 14:00:00

you sound exactly like me looking at the other mums with envy!
Thanks for this - it does make me feel better that it's 'normal' and will improve but I wish other parents could know just how much hard work it is looking after a boisterous boy - it is not always because the parents aren't trying which is I'm sure what they are thinking!!!

del1 Thu 04-Nov-10 21:11:00

I think they all go through it. I still meet with the other mums from the baby groups, and my lad was the quierter one. One lad used to pull his hair, and neck, ending in my lad moaning and crying. The other mum used to be embarrased and constantly tell him off.
I wasnt bothered by it, I just wanted mine to toughen up and do it back.
Now the tables have turned. The other lad is a little angle, and mine is a horror!
No matter how old, or big the child is, mine will hit, jump on or grab at them! Great!
I am now the mum who is hovering over him telling him every 5 minutes to stop, whilst the others carry on talking I miss out on the gossip.
Your right though, when I follow out the threats of leaving, it feels like I'm getting the punishment because I was enjoying the adult company!!
Fingers crossed they will grow out of it, like the other boy did?!

MogTheForgetfulCat Thu 04-Nov-10 21:36:00

My DS1 did this from about 18 months, and he did grow out of it! Like doittomorrow's DS, he was a LOT better by 3ish, and is an absolute sweetie now (although can still have moments when he is tired and grotty - he is 4.8).

I recognise so much of what has been said - looking enviously at other mums nattering and drinking tea while I fielded DS1 around the room, psyching myself up for trips to soft play, toddler groups etc. Have left many things like that in tears, in despair that he would ever stop it. I found it utterly mortifying, and felt convinced others were judging me. But, he has grown out of it. I just had to try to remain calm, but firm and consistent.

DS2 has (touch wood) not (yet) been any trouble in that department! Good luck, he will get there!

BlueberryPancake Thu 04-Nov-10 21:53:15

I don't think there should be any warning. Warnings are for 'minor offences'. When your son hits, you have to make sure you pay lots of attention to the other child immediatly, take your child away from the situation and stop him playing, leave him apart from the other children for a set amount of time - maybe one minute - and then he has to apologise to the other child and to the parent. As many times as you need to. He'll get it eventually, maybe quite quickly. Just getting told off without any consequences will not work in my experience. Also I don't think that saying 'if you hit one more time we'll go home' works, it's not an immediate consequence, and it's not going to help solve the problem just avoid it.

I do not tolerate hitting from my children and have a zero tolerance. Sorry but that's the one think that is an absolute red card for us. I have two boys 18 months apart in age and I absolutely do not want them to start hitting and pushing at home. As soon as they hit, and it hasn't happened very often, they are immediatly taken apart and have to stop playing for a time. and they have to apologise for real.

Both my kids have been hit at playgroups and I don't think it's right if a parent just says 'hey hon, it's not right to hit, don't hit other children' and they just carry on as if nothing happened, it's not acceptable. It does hurt other children, affects their confidence, and they don't enjoy the playgroup anymore. I have had to stop going to a playgroup when DS was 3 because of one little girl who was constantly pushing and pulling hair, and DS got scared of her and scared of all little girls as he thought they were all like her.

mamaJK Fri 05-Nov-10 17:17:38

BlueberryPancake - I totally sympathise. It used to be the other way around when my little one was the victim and now he's the perpetrator I know how the other parents feel because even though they are 'just kids' you can't help that feeling of protectiveness over your own child and anger at the child in question or the parent!
Especially if it's a repeated problem that's not on at all.

What i don't understand is how you get the kid to stay in one spot to have these time outs when you're out.
If i were to try that I would have to physically restrain him (pram?) and he would absolutely lose it and draw more attention to the situation when all i want to do is crawl in a hole and die! If I didn't restrain him he would ignore me and just try to keep playing. Also, i can't imagine the parents around would think that was brilliant parenting although i could be wrong.

I totally agree that empty threats are not the way forward so i would seriously be interested in how to punish effectively at the location without having to leave but at this stage all i can do if it's a serious offence is to leave.
To make it quite clear, the first 3 offences in this case were little 'pats' or a soft push rather than proper whacks and even the 4th didn't seriously hurt but was enough to warrant leaving.

I am wondering if my reaction to him hitting is adding to the problem. I've probably helped make the other child cry by shouting my "no"! a bit too loudly.

I have also tried to just remove him from the situation and talk to him in the corner but back to the point in this rambling response. How do you actively make a time out work?

I have never seen it in action!!

Thanks in advance... and thanks to all you other mums who've been through this - it's nice to know it will pass but would be helpful to know how to get through it while this awful phase lasts. You have given me hope!!

mumbar Fri 05-Nov-10 17:35:03

mamajk thats an excellent question about actively enforcing a time out and I used them(still do occassionally for DS now 6).

I guess for me it was the fact I did it from the word go, removing from situations, then the you need to stay here thats unacceptable to the warnings of time out when DS was old enough to understand. He then just did it when I said time out, he knew where the spot is and went no fuss.

Maybe consistency is the key?? I do know DC's however who do create merryhell at punishment/ time out - will not stay and scream etc (they are 5&6). This isn't a judgement just an observation but their mum is not consistent so I think they know they'll get away with it.??

When out a timeout was by my feet, by someones front door, bench in shopping centre or taken to a spot where it could happen. Its not easily and can be damn right embarrassing if they argue about it but I just remind myself its not about me but about teaching him the acceptable behaviour, therefore adjusting better socially.

MadamDeathstare Fri 05-Nov-10 17:42:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

purplepidjin Fri 05-Nov-10 20:12:16

I saw a mum time out her small DD in the middle of town the other day. I wanted to cheer and congratulate her - the kid had run out towards the main road!! It reminded me that there are well brought up kids around, not just the scrotes getting drunk on cheap cider in the park lol

mamaJK Fri 05-Nov-10 20:45:08

mumbar - so what did you do if they fought the time out? as MadamDeathstar said I don't want to make it into a physical battle?
I am prepared to be consistent but what if you can't get them to sit still at the beginning?

MDS how did you do it if you were out?

If I'm at someone's house or in the supermarket should I just say time out or we go home? or physically hold them down for 1 minute?! (seems unlikely to help any situation)

I'd love someone to complete this sentence: 'sit down and have a time out for one minute or ...'

I really don't get it - sorry if I'm a bit thick... I think if I have a clear plan then I will be able to be calm and consistent!!!
As it is I think I would just take him home if he kicked up a fuss with time out which brings me back to square one - it inconveniences me and I'd love to have techniques to deal with it 'on site'

MadamDeathstare Fri 05-Nov-10 21:41:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ZombiePlanB Fri 05-Nov-10 21:44:46

mamaJK - I have an active boy who hits, It isn't at all pleasant, and he has got better (3.5 now).

I don't think time out works. We tried it and it made him crosser and more angry in general.

In the end I was just firm about consequences 'if you do that again we will leave' and we had to leave. There was no 'time out' onsite. I couldn't enforce it. He wouldn't sit still.

Some children are just more hardcore than others. Nursery school will help, as does getting outside every day.

'How to talk so children will listen' book really helped, timeout didn't.

good luck. It is very hard but does get better. Just decide what you can live with, and what you'll do if he doesn't comply. But in the short term you will suffer. They always play up worse when you are having a good time.

whoknowswhatthefutureholds Fri 05-Nov-10 21:52:04


I went through this for years with DS1.

we tried everything (time out, star charts, talking, shouting, not going out, threats)

after along struggle this is the only thing that worked (and still does at 5).

Ignore the bad
Praise the good

he hits: (I go over to the child he has hit, not even looking at DS and say, that was really horrible wasn;t it. I'm so sorry, DS will say sorry soon too, then walk away, talking to the parent if neccessary apologise and explain am ignoring his bad behaviour)

I then ignore him for one minute for each of his years.

I also praise him a lot for any nice, gentle behaviour, loads of attention for this.

Try it for 2 weeks. Don't get cross/shout etc. My ds loves attention of any sort. He also gets sad with himself after he has been naughty if I really tell him off, and after a bit sadness becomes anger, which leads to violence.

Good luck. I know it's hard, but he is so lovely when I stick to these rules. (it does slip, esp now we have 4 DC)

thatsnotmyGUNPOWDER Fri 05-Nov-10 22:03:36

I have a 22month old and he is turning me into a hermit with his behaviour. It is only really bad when he is tired and he does not oknow the "other" child.

Just marking my place and really really taking on all this advice

FlamingMagnaFlow Fri 05-Nov-10 22:16:27

Being cheeky and doing the same as thatsnotmy. Going to sit and read in peace in a bit as DS2 just starting to go through this stage.

BlueberryPancake Sat 06-Nov-10 16:34:00

I did time out in Tesco the other day, as DS1 opened a packet of pancakes and tried to eat one without me seeing. He has now discovered that I HAVE eyes at the back of my head!

It's really hard to do time out when there are lots of people about. It doens't have to be for a long time, even 30 seconds is fine, but he will know that he will have to stop playing for a while. I hope that makes sense.

WHOKNOWS, I understand your method and agree with it to a certain extent, but I've seen other children pushing and kicking, and then getting nothing from their parents. DS1 was kicked the other day in the tummy, we were at the swing park, he was kicked by a boy his age (5) really hard enough to be crying in pain on the floor with a blue face. What did the other boy get as a punishment? His dad said "Sam, you musn't kick. It's not nice." and that's it. The boy just continued playing like nothing had happened. It's just not right not to punish a child if he doesn't something deliberatly naughty and that hurts other children. If you let them hit at 2-3-4 year old, they will still do it at school.

omnishambles Sat 06-Nov-10 16:42:32

When we are out and about we have always done time out in the buggy - you carry them over telling them why and put them in and they will scream - leave them for a couple of minutes, pref where they cant see anybody then let them out and tell them why you put them in there and go and apologise to the victim.

I think more tolerance is required generally though - not of older dcs obviously but some toddlers are just more aggressive than others - it doesnt come down to bad parenting, just the luck of the draw. And you cant change that you can only change how you deal with it.

oh and if they are going through a biting phase then you really have to hover over them - you cant parent from any distance away at all - tiring but necessary.

mamaJK Mon 08-Nov-10 14:43:43

I tried removing him from the situation 3 times on the weekend when we went to visit a friend and he DID calm down and was generally better behaved for the whole time we were there but wasn't perfect by a long shot.

Thank you everyone - you have made me realise I just need to keep it up.
I certainly don't want an older child who thinks he can get away with it.

My friend told me an awful story that her 2 yr old was beaten up by a 5 yr (stamping on his back til his lip bled) and all the parent / carer said to the 5 yr old was to tell them to 'say sorry'!!
Ridiculous. I don't know what I would have said or done had my child been the injured party!

Anyway - thanks everyone. I am sure it will pass and for now it's also a lesson to me not to judge other children or parents who are misbehaving (as long as they are making a decent effort to discipline) as you never know when you'll be in their shoes!!

deaconblue Mon 08-Nov-10 16:04:11

Gosh I know exactly how you feel. Ds was exactly the same at that age and I had dd as a newborn to contend with too. We left coffee mornings, parks, playgrounds etc etc always in less than an hour for the same reason. Nothing I did made any difference until he grew out of it at about 3 1/2

Mobly Mon 08-Nov-10 16:08:12

I would also add that it's OK to call 'Time out' 'The naughty step' instead. It is more clear to a 2yr old- naughty behaviour results in sitting on the naughty step. I think this has worked best on my 2yr old more than anything.

However teaching not to hit can be a lengthy process. DS1 is now 2.9yrs and the improvement in his behaviour has been gradual.

Consistency is key. I don't give warnings for hitting for anymore- I agree with the other poster that this doesn't work for some children. Zero tolerance is the way forward.

I think if you don't feel comfortable carrying out this discipline at Toddler group than maybe miss out on toddler group for a little while and go to friend's houses who are more understanding.

hillyhilly Mon 08-Nov-10 16:29:20

I'm afraid I'm with the growing out of it school, my DS is the total opposite of DD, time out involves a physical struggle - pointless as he has 100% my attention and it makes me more frustrated, he always refused to say sorry, would even laugh when he had hurt other children (he was a biter too) he gradually grew out of it in the second half of his second year thank heavens and at three I can finally relax a bit although he can still be too boisterous and rough.
I did all the say sorry, attention to the other child, naughty step/ corner stuff with my 1st child (DD) and it worked a treat and I'm afraid I probably assumed that the parents of naughty boys were not being firm or consistent enough - I now realise that that is not always the case.
In all truth as he has an older sister, I went to far fewer playgroups and things like that with him as it was simply too stressful.
Like so many things, it will pass!

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