Written by Olivia Arrow

Parenting is a tough job and it comes with its own set of challenges. One of the most difficult situations that parents may face is when their toddler starts hitting them. It can be a confusing and frustrating experience for parents, as they may not know how to handle this behaviour. It is important to remember that hitting is a normal part of a toddler’s development and it is their way of expressing their emotions. However, it is crucial for parents to address and correct this behaviour in a way that is both effective and gentle.

The first step in dealing with a toddler who hits is to understand why they are doing it. Toddlers are still learning how to communicate their feelings and they may resort to hitting as a way to express themselves. They may be feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or angry and hitting is their way of letting out those emotions. Toddlers also imitate what they see, so if they see someone hitting, they may think it is an acceptable way of expressing themselves. As parents, it is important to be patient and try to understand where your toddler is coming from.

One of the most important things to remember when your toddler hits you is to stay calm. It can be tempting to react with anger or frustration, but this will only make the situation worse. Toddlers are sensitive to their parents’ emotions and if they sense that you are upset, they may become more agitated. Take a deep breath and try to remain calm. This will help you to handle the situation in a more effective manner.

The next step is to address the behaviour. It is important to let your toddler know that hitting is not acceptable. You can do this by saying something like, ‘I can see that you are angry, but hitting is not okay. It hurts mommy/daddy.’ Use a firm but gentle tone and make sure to maintain eye contact with your toddler. This will help them understand that you are serious. It is important to be consistent with this message, so your toddler knows that hitting is never okay.

After addressing the behaviour, it is important to teach your toddler alternative ways of expressing their emotions. Toddlers may not have the vocabulary to express themselves, so it is important to give them other options. You can suggest that they use their words to tell you how they are feeling. For example, ‘Instead of hitting, you can tell me that you are angry or sad.’ You can also encourage them to use other outlets for their emotions, such as drawing, dancing, or playing with toys. This will help them learn healthier ways of expressing themselves.

Another important aspect to consider is to be a role model for your toddler. They learn by watching and imitating their parents, so it is important to model appropriate behaviour. If you hit your toddler in response to their hitting, they will think that it is acceptable to use violence to solve problems. Instead, show them how to handle their emotions in a calm and respectful manner. This will not only help them learn appropriate behaviour, but it will also strengthen your relationship with them.

It is also important to set boundaries and consequences for hitting. Toddlers need structure and consistency to feel secure, so it is important to establish clear rules and consequences for their actions. Make sure to explain the consequences to your toddler in a calm and clear manner. For example, ‘If you hit, you will have to take a break from playing with your toys for a few minutes.’ This will help them understand the consequences of their actions. Consistency is key here, so make sure to follow through with the consequences every time your toddler hits.

Lastly, it is important to seek support if you are struggling to handle your toddler’s hitting behaviour. Parenting can be overwhelming and it is okay to ask for help. Talk to your partner, family members, or friends about your concerns. You can also reach out to a parenting support group or seek the advice of a professional. They can provide you with helpful tips and strategies to handle your toddler’s hitting behaviour.

Dealing with a toddler who hits can be a challenging experience for parents. However, it is important to remember that hitting is a normal part of a toddler’s development and it is their way of expressing their emotions. As parents, it is crucial to address this behaviour in a calm and gentle manner. By understanding the reasons behind your toddler’s behaviour, staying calm, setting boundaries, and seeking support, you can effectively handle your toddler’s hitting and help them learn healthier ways of expressing themselves.