How Do I Discipline a Toddler Who Hits?
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How Do I Discipline a Toddler Who Hits?

In addition to cuddling, sharing and being sweet, toddlers often display unpleasant, angry tendencies, such as hitting, screaming and biting. Like many parents of toddlers, you may feel like your gentle baby turns into a tiny monster, wreaking havoc and distress with his bouts of anger. Teaching your child not to hit requires plenty of effort, including speaking to your child in a calm and positive manner. Your own behavior can make the difference between escalating and defusing the situation.

Step 1

Inform him that hitting is an unacceptable behavior. Speak to him with words he can understand. Tell him to use his hands for gentle touches and not to hit others, including you and the family pets. Demonstrate this behavior by not lashing out in anger.

Step 2

Talk about anger. Let her know that everyone feels anger and this is a normal emotion. Differentiate between the feelings and the unacceptable actions, such as hitting and other aggressive behaviors. Help her recognize her angry feelings by verbalizing your own feelings of anger. Let her see how you deal respond to situations that make you angry.

Step 3

Avoid anger triggers. Like adults, children tend to act their worst when they feel frustrated, tired and hungry. Reduce the likelihood of hitting by making sure your child gets adequate sleep and eats a well-balanced diet. Minimize escalating temperaments by reducing your own level of stress, giving yourself time to relax and rejuvenate every day.

Step 4

Suggest acceptable alternatives to hitting and slapping. Let your young child know you understand how frustrating it feels to try to hold your anger inside yourself. Discuss and demonstrate ways to deal with anger, such as squeezing a pillow or walking quickly.

Step 5

Put your child in a brief time-out when he hits. Designate an area, such as a certain chair or rug, as the time-out area. Explain that hitting means stopping all activities and spending time in his time-out spot. Let him take two to three minutes to cool down. After the time-out ends, discuss his behavior and remind him that every time he hits he has to take a time-out. Do not allow him to watch television or play with toys during this disciplinary measure.

Step 6

Notice your child’s good behavior and compliment her on her h achievements. Rather than harping at your child, focus your reactions on her ability to interact in positive ways. Verbalize your enjoyment and pleasure when she acts nicely and refrains from hitting.


  • Watch your own feelings of anger when dealing with your hitting toddler. Give yourself a time out to cool down.

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