How to teach my daughter not to hit?

Michelle - posted on 03/11/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )

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My daughter has begun to show frustration when i take something away from her or steer her away from danger, by hitting me or whatever family member is with her at that moment. She hits with aggression, not playfully, and I can see in her eyes that she also is testing the reaction. She's always been a very happy girl, and so easy going - and we have a calm household and obviously don't exhibit any hitting. Any ideas on constructive ways to teach her that's wrong without yelling and/or constantly saying "no!"??

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Tameka - posted on 03/14/2011

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It was a shock to see my youngest hit... I don't smack my children as a form of discipline and she doesn't go to day care so I wonder where she learnt it from??

I taught her "gentle hands". It works really well too!! Whenever my daughter hit, pinched, threw toys etc I would immediately tell her "No, no, show me your gentle hands" in a soft positive voice. Initially I would take her hand and run it down my face in a gentle way. She picked up instantly that this was a nice and positive thing. Then whenever she got carried away again I would remind her about using her gentle hands and she would stop what she was doing and start patting whoever she hurt. Sort of like patting a dog/cat. Now, whenever she gets cranky she starts patting the person she is upset with. Whenever I see this I know she is upset so I pick her up for a cuddle and she is back to her bubbly self in a few seconds. No tantrum, no tears and no one is hurt!

Jennifer - posted on 03/16/2011

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Mine has started hitting and pinching too. What we do is tell her to be easy (much like the gentle hands method Tameka uses); if she does not stop the hitting/pinching then she is put in the floor and told that she has to be nice in order to be held. She may cry and throw a tantrum but after a minute or two she realizes that doesn't get her anywhere and she is a much nicer, gentler little girl when she gets back up to play and/or be held.

Bethany - posted on 03/24/2011

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What we have done at our house is hold her hands down gently and look her in the eyes and say no owies in a firm low voice. That seems to get her attention!

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Jennifer - posted on 04/16/2011

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I say We Don't Hit or That's Not a Friendship Move. I think my son learned it from our cat, as he pats him and just gets too aggressive. We have a really busy boy and despite our "good kitty nice kitty gentle kitty' mantra since he was 6months he gets too enthusiastic. He bites me but nobody else so it has to be my reaction. I've tried firm tones, ignoring, pretending to be upset and he laughs at me. I'm going back to not making a big deal and just say no biting or not nice and putting him down. Here's hoping!

Elfrieda - posted on 04/13/2011

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I think it also depends on the child. My son HATES having his hands touched or held down, so if he hits the cat, I'll (quickly before she can escape!) hold the cat in one hand and hold my son's hand in the other hand, and make him pat the cat nicely while saying Gentle, ah-ah, and then usually he'll give the cat a hug, which is actually more of a head-butt.

Our poor cat is getting nominated for babysitter of the year! I'm amazed that she doesn't scratch him sometimes. I think that having a cat is teaching him to be gentle.



edit: well, actually, she has batted him away several times, and each time I backed her up, letting my son fight back the tears by himself for a bit and telling him, "NO. You be gentle to the kitty."

Allison - posted on 04/11/2011

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I agree with Tameka and Bethany, too! I think it's very important to look your child in the eye whenever you are disciplining them. That shows your child that it is important and you want his/her full attention. I really like how Tameka taught her child to replace a bad behavior with a good one. I usually say, "Be gentle" and try to demonstrate it, but I don't think I've been as consistent as what Tameka describes. I've always heard that when you want to end a bad habit, you need to replace it with a good one and kids respond better to what they SHOULD do than what they SHOULD NOT do. Even though looking him in the eye and firmly telling him to stop has been working OK, I'm going to try some form of "gentle hands" consistently now, and I bet I get even better results!

Stevie - posted on 03/25/2011

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I agree with Tameka and Bethany. And I completely understand your situation. My daughter is a extremely content and happy girl but she sure has a temper when she doesn't get what she wants she bites, scratches and pinches. When you say no no or ouch she laughs. I now say Rowan...Gentle hands. That is a no no. She seems to respond better to that.

Bethany - posted on 03/24/2011

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I also have her give me loves/snuggles to apologize since she can't quite verbalize it yet.

Lynn - posted on 03/21/2011

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I will usually say Ouch loud to startle her and then put her dowmn and telling her that was not nice and then move away from her. She usually comes over nicer unless she is really tired.

Laura - posted on 03/19/2011

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My daughter does the same thing basically as Sasha's son (pinches or bites), and mostly just me. I've also come to realize that she does this when she's either tired, hungry, or I'm not entertaining her. Yelling at her didn't do anything, just made her angrier. I doubt a time-out would work, because I'd have to physically hold her in place. I have tried ignoring her, but usually what works is fixing the reason she bit or pinched me. If she's tired, I put her for a nap, or hungry I give her food. Of course, if it's because she's mad at me for not letting her get into trouble, the only thing I can try to do is distract her with something else that she can play with. But eventually I'm going to have to figure out how to get her to communicate in a way other than hurting me. No where near two and I alreay feel like we're in the terrible two's!

Rebecca - posted on 03/17/2011

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I find with my 14 month old son the only thing that works is picking him straight up and putting him in his cot and walking out, after a few minutes he is calm again and I go get him out...the first few times he would hit me straight away as soon as I put him back in the lounge room but he soon learnt that it was getting him nothing but put in his cot so he stopped doing it. lol Nicole Henderson.....I tried a tap on his hand but all it did with my boy is make him angrier and then he'd hit or pinch me twice as bad...or even go looking for the poor dog to vent his anger lol I guess it's whatever works for the individual :O)

Nicole - posted on 03/17/2011

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I am totally in the same boat with one of my twins. We are running through everything to get him to stop. When I say "no" he just laughs at me. NOT THE DESIRED RESPONSE!!! haha We've tried timeouts in the pack n play but the boy likes it in there (plus his twin will come over and play peekaboo with him). I've tried sitting him down away from me (mixed response there). I've tried hitting his hand and saying "no" and while I know that's hypocritical, it's the only thing that has worked. Now I'll wait and see if I get attacked for that response.

April - posted on 03/16/2011

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Mine little sweetie is there too :( I hate to see her be so mean when I'm use to see her so nice lol but what I do is say no hit no hit and she usually cries but then I hug her kiss her and put her down and she's fine most of the time it work but every now and then i see her reach over to whack her big sister just stay consistent with what ever you decide to do and it will eventually work

Sasha - posted on 03/15/2011

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I'm in the same place with my 15 month old. He doesn't hit but he pinches (harder than any adult I've ever known), he bites and he absolutely looks for a reaction. There are set times when he does it: when he's hungry, or bored or simply wants me to stop doing what I'm doing. My husband ignores him completely when he bites or pinches him and so he rarely does it to him but I try to discourage him and say 'ow, that really hurts' and 'be gentle' or I get up and walk away. It's not working for me though so I'll hopefully learn something from the advice you get too :) good luck with your little one.

Darlene - posted on 03/11/2011

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When my older son started that phase, I'd tell him no, sit him down and walk away from him. Not really a time out, but more that I would ignore him. It took about a week of consistancy and it got better. Every once in a while he would do it again, but much less.
Good luck!

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