When Your Toddler Starts Hitting

When Your Toddler Starts HittingI remember the scene like it was yesterday. I was pregnant with my son, and my daughter was 1. I was leaving a large women’s Bible study and attempting to put Johanna in her car seat. She wasn’t a fan of this idea and as I leaned over to buckle her in, she smacked me in the face. I remember her hitting me in my glasses and me becoming very rattled. Did she really just hit me? My sweet, loveable, little girl just hit me in public and other moms had to be judging. I got in the driver’s seat, cried the whole way home, and questioned what I had been doing wrong.

Newsflash: That was me with one kid. Now, I am pregnant with my third child, and I have learned that toddlers at an early age start becoming aggressive. It’s not me. It’s not something I’ve not done right. It’s just something that can happen. My son Levi is 1, and we’ve been through phases already. For some kids it is hitting. For us, that has been the case. For other kids, it may be biting or pushing. Early toddler aggression is real. And it’s not your fault.

So what causes our sweet angelic little ones to be mean and lash out? Many children become aggressive because of strong emotions coupled with weak communication skills. For me, this has been the case. When a child can’t express themselves in words, they may become aggressive. For Levi, this is when he has a toy taken away from him by his sister. Self-control is also still being learned, so young toddlers may hit, kick, push, or bite.

For my family, these aggressive behaviors have come and gone in seasons. Johanna is now a happy, energetic 3-year-old who doesn’t show aggression. When she is mad, she cries. It is almost humorous to me to hear her tell her little brother to stop hitting. I mean, what about all of those times she hit me? For me, teaching my children to touch gently and modeling behavior with their lovey teddy bear has been helpful. Time-outs work for older children, but a 1-year-old doesn’t get it. Removing them from the situation while reminding them we don’t hit or kick seems to work.

Children tend to exhibit these behaviors when they are tired, hungry, or overstimulated. My kids are much more tempermental at nap time or before bed.

I don’t have the answers on how to handle early toddler aggression. I can only to tell you that you are not alone. Reminding myself that some of this is normal kid behavior has helped. It doesn’t last forever. Lean on other moms. I have gotten some good advice from gentle mommas who can hold it together in these time much better than me.

Our little ones love us, but they need us to teach them, lead them, and show them the way.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana where she is happy no one has hit her in a long time.

 

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