My 2 year old won't stop hitting & won't stay in time out!

Kelli - posted on 09/28/2014 ( 4 moms have responded )

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I have 3 year old and 2 year old boys. They play together well for the most part but I can't get my 2 year old to stop hitting his brother. Most of the time it's them fighting over a toy or book or something. His consequence for that is time out. The next problem is we can't get him to stay in time out. He just comes out of his room and it just becomes a power struggle. It's really starting to frustrate me. We never went through this with our first son so I'm not really sure how to handle it. I could definitely use advice for both the hitting and the time out issues!

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Chet - posted on 10/03/2014

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We have four kids and have never used time out. I would shadow your sons closely when they play so you can help to mediate when disagreements happen and so you can intervene before things escalate to hitting.

When hitting does happen offer sympathy to the victim first. Next, tell the hitter that hitting hurts and what to do instead of hitting (use words, say you're angry, ask for the toy, use hands for gentle touching, etc). It's also good to get the victim into the habit of saying these things to the hitter as well.

The problem with time outs is that they don't teach kids what do to, and they make it seem like taking a break from a situation is a punishment when it's ideal if kids eventually learn to remove themselves when they need some space.

It's fine to remove kids from a situation when it becomes overwhelming, but it's often more productive if you go with them and talk, or if you tell them they need to play alone until they are ready to play without hitting... not in a critical way, in a, "leave if you think you're going to hit" kind of way.

Your son is very young for any sort of complex strategy though, avoiding the opportunity to hit, defusing situations, diverting the kids to a different activity if they're doing something that has become tense, etc are really the best strategies. For a two year old, when a hit happens I would just say something like, "oh no, hitting hurts, use hands gently" the first time and if hitting continues I would move the kids to an activity where hitting isn't normally a problem (like going from playing together in a confined space to active play outside).

Kelli - posted on 09/29/2014

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Just tried the silently putting him back in time out and it took a couple tries but he did stay. Instead of his bed I switched to the corner and I had to put him back a couple times but definitely an improvement. I also decided for now I'm going to stand in his doorway not facing him. He actually did end up staying put for the full 2 minutes eventually and I think that might have been a first! Thank you!

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