Skip to content

How to Stop a Toddler from Hitting


How to Stop a Toddler from Hitting Siblings and Others

Have you encountered the problem of seeing your child hit another child or even a sibling? Perhaps while playing with your child, he or she suddenly hits you. Do not worry. This is not a sign that you are failing as a mother or dad. There is also nothing wrong with your child. You do want to stop your toddler from hitting and that will take a little patience on your part.

Emotional forces are at work when your child hits another person. You may see a silly look on your child’s face, or he or she may be laughing while hitting another person. That aggression in your child is compelled by emotions. That emotion is usually fear. To stop your toddler from hitting, you cannot add more emotional feelings to their fears by yelling at your toddler.

Your toddler does not want to be a bad child or hurt another person. Toddler’s do not need punishment when they hit, what they need is you. If you give them a punishment for hitting, they are more than likely to hit again in the future. Sitting in a corner or taking away a child’s playtime is not a way to stop toddlers from hitting.

A Toddlers Experimental Hitting Will Subside

Toddlers experiment every day. They get enthusiastic about learning and want to see how things work. Toddlers are curious little people. They store up their understanding of playmates, parents, and their whole world around them. Hitting is one thing that most toddlers will experiment with at a very early age.

When you see your child hitting another person, do not get all upset. Simply remove the toddler’s hand away from the person he or she is trying to hit. This way the toddler cannot hit again. You can let the toddler try and hit again, but just keep his hand from landing the hit on the other person or yourself.

To stop toddlers from hitting, they need some instructions. Do not give the toddler a loud reaction. Tell the child that hitting does not feel good, or hitting is not something you like him or her to do. A tiny instruction may be a helpful touch that your toddler needs. As long as the toddler is not seeing a lot of hitting going on in the house, his or her hitting experiment will end up playing itself out. After a few times of trying to hit someone and not succeeding, the child will lose interest and move onto something else.

When Responding with Harshness, It May Trigger Your Toddlers Hitting to Continue

Toddlers and children will bottle up feelings when parents show that they are upset. This builds up in a child’s mind and it frightens them. When your toddler feels the fear, he or she will want to start hitting again. The toddler or child does not understand you yelling, grabbing his arm, or hitting back. The toddler’s mind cannot make any logical meaning for your actions.

The child becomes scared and the only way to make any sense of it is for the child to start hitting again. This begins to form a pattern. When the child is scared or alone, he or she is in fear, then the child’s mind says to hit, in order to feel better. The child has now learned that when you feel bad, you hit. Parents who discipline their toddlers and children with harshness and yelling are building up fears in their children. The hitting pattern develops stronger the more the child is in fear or not feeling good.

A Child’s Fear Causes Hitting

Not every child will start hitting when they are scared. Hitting is not the only reaction that the child may have when feeling fear. It is, however, the child’s natural response. If your child is hitting with a smile on his face, or looks unemotional, or hits only when he is upset, it usually means it is because he is scared.

Laughter releases feelings of fear that the child is holding inside. The child puts the two together. Laughter and hitting to release tension. Most of the time laughter cannot take away the tension or fears fast enough, so the child starts hitting.

Hiding fear comes at an early age. We all try and stop our child from crying by soothing their feelings. The child picks up on our uneasiness and that creates a fear in the child. We want our children to be safe at all times and take away their feelings of being upset.

Repressed Feelings Do Not Go Away

Parents are often giving their children signals that they are not interested in how the child is feeling. What the child does is hold all those feelings inside and sooner or later those pent-up feelings come out in misbehavior. Some of the misbehaviors are, hitting and biting or pushing other children for no reason. Hitting is just one example of a child with feelings that are bottled up inside. These hidden fears can show up in many different ways. You know your child is dealing with troubling feelings if;

  • they begin to sleep walk
  • start having temper tantrums
  • thumb-sucking
  • reject new things
  • behavior becomes picky

These are signs that your child has built up feelings that he or she is holding inside. It is hard for them to manage all these emotions but it is not hard to stop toddlers from hitting.

Offer a Gentle Barricade to Stop Toddlers from Hitting

As a mom, you are always keeping an eye out for the impulsive toddler who has a hitting problem. It is really somewhat simple to stop your toddler from hitting. By anticipating your child’s moves, you will be one step ahead of the outburst that might have happened, when your child goes to hit someone.

Your mind will be ready with a quiet solution as to how to handle your toddler’s situation. Instead of your mind wondering if he or she is going to hit another child, you will be able to stay calm. Being prepared before you need to stop your toddler from hitting someone else will help you to handle the problem safely.

The Friendly Patrol

When you need to stop your child from hitting another person, get up close to your child and be friendly. Do not give your child a verbal warning. Warnings do nothing to end the fear inside of your child’s mind. That fear is what is making your child want to hit someone.

When your child reaches out for another child or person, catch your child’s arm and gently hold onto the arm or hand. Hold on gently as he or she goes towards a sibling or playmate so the child cannot strike a hit all of a sudden. You are the friendly patrol that stops the hit from landing on another person. Keep good eye contact with your child, and let the child know that you cannot let him or her hit another person.

Speak gently and softly. Stay with your child and do not scold or punish. Keep holding onto your child’s arm or hand and be with your child for as long as it takes to calm your child down. Always be gentle and stay in eye contact. This is a good way to stop your toddler from hitting and staying calm yourself.

The Child’s Fears Will Find Another Way Out

Because you have stayed calm and quiet, you have prevented your child from hitting someone. The feelings that are making your child hit someone are now going to start bubbling up inside your child. He or she will become extremely uncomfortable. Your child will cry, tremble, fall down in a tantrum or sweat. This is what you want to happen. You want the child’s feelings to come pouring out so they are not bottled up inside the child. It will be a big emotional wave when all those negative feelings leave your child mind. This is one of the steps to help stop your toddler from hitting. You want to stay calm and hold your child and talk gently.

Listen to Your Child and Give Support

Support your child by staying calm and loving to your child. When you are calm, your child does not have to be afraid of your disapproval or you’re becoming loud. This way your child can let out all their tensions and fears. You might experience your child throwing him or herself on the ground, arching his or her back while in your arms or even screaming. It is all ok, as long as you stay calm. This is another step to help you stop your toddler from hitting.

The more the child pours out in distress, the more the child is getting rid of his or her fears. All the bad feelings are being expelled and the fears are slowly leaving the child. By staying calm, the child reacts to your sense of love and compassion. The child feels free to let out all his or her fears.

What You Need to Say

You need to let the child know that you are understanding that he or she is letting go of all the fears that have built up inside. Be supportive by listening and talking gently to your child. You could state that you know he or she likes this playmate and that you are not going to let him or her hit anyone. Reinforce that you are not mad and that your child is special to you and you will stay right there with him or her until the fears pass. Remind your child that you will keep him or her safe and everyone can have a good day when everything calms down.

1 thought on “How to Stop a Toddler from Hitting”

  1. If your baby won’t sleep, check out the sleep method from – Thank you SleepBaby for this brilliant method! My daughter now sleeps from 7pm to 6 or 6:30am every night with almost no night wakings. And even if she wakes, it’s usually just for a second and then she falls back asleep all on her own.

    Most nights I get my 8 hours of sleep and it’s just wonderful! I really feel like I understand her little body and mind and can address her sleeping holistically. I can’t thank you enough, Kacey and the team!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.