What's the best way to teach my 2 yr. old son not to hit?

Dianne - posted on 05/15/2011 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My son Judah just turned two in April. He's a sweetheart but he does seem to have a propensity for hitting. Hitting anyone, including me, his dad, and his two sisters (one of whom is an infant!), etc. He does this mostly when he's angry or throwing a fit, but sometimes just for the sake of hitting. I get that he's "all boy" and I'm not surprised by the behavior; I just want to hear from other moms some of your successful solutions to curbing this behavior. And hey, at least he isn't a biter...knock on wood. ;)

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Jenni - posted on 05/16/2011

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He is a cutie. ;)

Most of the reason for toddlers hitting is lack of language to express their feelings.

My son will be 3 yo in July and we have been working on hitting (when angry/frustrated) since he was 18 months. He use to full out tackle his older sister and hit multiple times a day. Now, he has been hit-free (other than the very odd incident) for 4-5 months. He hasn't hit me or his father at all for about 8 months.

Here's what we did:



Anytime he hit, he was immediately removed from the situation. I would state: "We don't hit. Hitting hurts." When speaking to him always get down to his level and make eye contact. Speak in a low but firm voice (just above a whisper). I don't know why this works but it does! Then give him 2 minutes to calm down.



Next I would speak to him about his behaviour and provide him the appropriate words to express his feelings. Again get down to his level. It would go something like this:

"I know you're mad Kira won't let you play with that toy. It's ok to be mad but we don't hit when we're mad. We say 'I'm really mad right now'. (a sorry and hugs). Now, go so sorry to Kira and give her a hug."

After he says sorry. I suggest how he can appropriately handle the situation. He wants the toy: "Now ask Kira if you can have a turn."



Model behaviour: Identify his feelings, your feelings, others feelings; everyday. "(his name) is happy he gets to go to the park.", "Mommy is frustrated she made a mess!", "(his name) is mad he can't have the candy.) You get the idea. :)



When he does use his words to express his feelings say: "Good job! You used your words. Now tell mommy what's wrong."



It takes time for them to learn the language but once they do you'll notice a massive improvement. The first time my son said "I'm really mad right now!" instead of hitting. That was the day the hitting almost completely stopped. It has only been getting better!



So good luck and stay consistant!!! :))

Rebecca - posted on 05/15/2011

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I have had good luck with teaching my DD “soft” vs. “hard”. As in, she can’t hit “hard” but she can pat “soft”. She really likes it because she still gets to do the action she wants, but just without hurting people. Also, think about getting a foam sword or something so that if your DS really needs to hit something, that he has an appropriate time and place to do it. My DH got my DD a foam sword for Christmas last year (I rolled my eyes, thought it was crazy-she wasn’t even 2 yet!) but that darn sword has worked WONDERS against hitting (she can only hit things WITH the sword and only appropriate things, like her rocking horse or the furniture in her room).

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