My Child Won’t Stop Hitting

In this episode: A parent says she feels helpless because her 2-year-old has been hitting other kids. She says her son loves people and enjoys playing with others, but parents are now keeping their kids away from him. She has tried several approaches, but nothing has worked, so she’s looking to Janet for some fresh advice.

Transcript of “My Child Won’t Stop Hitting”

Hi, this is Janet Lansbury, welcome to Unruffled. Today I am responding to an email from an anxious parent whose toddler’s been hitting and pushing other kids. She’s tried a few strategies to stop the behavior but it’s continuing. She says she’s feeling helpless and she’s looking for some guidance.

“Hi Janet. I’m not sure if this is the right way to reach out to you but I couldn’t really wait any longer to seek your help. My two year old toddler has been hitting other kids since he was twenty months old. I’ve tried staying calm, talking it out, taking him out of the situation, time-outs, etc. He seems to be doing this not out of anger but just as a thrill. He keeps beating kids on their face and pushing them.

I’m really concerned about this now and just don’t know how to handle it. Should I hope this is a phase? He does say “Sorry.” But, after 10-15 minutes he’s back doing it again. This is really worrying me since parents keep their kids away from my little one. My son loves people and enjoys playing with others, but I guess one of his ways is to push and hit, which makes other kids cry. There’s no one particular situation when he does it. He may be playing alone and if he sees babies and other kids playing by themselves or with others, he runs up to them and hits their face or pushes them down. I just feel so helpless everyday when I see him do this at the park or when my friends come over with their kids. Thank you so much Janet. I’m looking forward to your guidance.”

Okay, so a few things stuck out here for me. The first is this parent’s comment, “He seems to be doing this not out of anger but just as a thrill.” I can certainly understand why she sees it that way, because sometimes children do seem to be smiling or excited, you know in a positive way when they do these kinds of behaviors. But, I feel like it’s going to take this parent in the wrong direction completely if she actually perceives this as thrilling for her son, in a positive way. That he’s having a good time when he’s doing this. I don’t believe that’s true. I think he might well be in an excited kind of danger-state because he’s known for a long time that his mother doesn’t want him to do this. That he’s doing something wrong. It’s this impulse that he keeps doing. You know, maybe the way we would be following an impulse to do a behavior that we know isn’t positive. But there is this excitement about, I’m going to eat this really decadent desert, even though I’m on a diet. Or whatever it is. So, this isn’t happy camper, “I’m really having a great time here” behavior.

And the problem with seeing it that way is that it really distances us from our child. We start to see them as somebody that’s just so different from us in what they like and what they like to do. That’s dangerous because children actually need the opposite. They need us to give them the safety of our calm response and our on it response. That’s one thing that I hear in this parent’s note is that she’s letting this kind of stuff go a little bit rather than being on it. And children, they don’t feel safe — like us if we’re in the candy store or the soda fountain and we’re on a diet and nobody’s there to stop us. It’s not a comfortable feeling. He needs so desperately to feel his mother’s protection and to feel protected and safe, we have to feel also accepted and understood in our behavior. Which I realize is hard to do, but it’s especially hard to do if we see him as actually enjoying this icky stuff.

So, that was the first thing that stuck out for me that I would love to help this parent see differently. See the scared little immature guy there that knows very well that he’s doing something wrong. He learned that the first time that he did one of these things by the reaction. Children are very tuned into our reaction. We don’t have to give them the lesson more than once that this is wrong. But, he’s going to do it. His impulse is telling him to do it. He needs his parents to really love that little guy and feel for him and give him that help that he needs.

So, the way that this will look for this parent is being on this behavior in a physical way right away, preventative if possible. That could mean being what I call a buddy guard. Being next to him. Seeing when he’s going up to a child. One of the situations she describes is, he may be playing alone and if he sees babies and other kids playing by themselves or with others, he runs up to them and hits their face or pushes them down. So, seeing when he’s running up to other children and starting to be able to perceive even that energy in him, if possible. That’s not always possible. That excited, “I am in my impulse,” energy that he really needs help with, right away. Ideally she would be there, and that doesn’t mean every second for the rest of his life forever. It just means while she’s helping to give him different messaging here. When she says she’s staying calm, that’s good.

Talking it out isn’t helpful because, imagine you know you’re doing something wrong, but you did it. You ate the chocolate sundae and now the person that you’ve asked to help you with this impulse or that you need to help you with this impulse is now telling you, once again, “Well, chocolate has this many calories and you know, makes you gain weight and this is bad for your body.” And all of that stuff. Talking about it doesn’t help. So, I would talk way less, maybe not even say anything. Just being there. “Whoa, I’m going to stop you. Yeah, I saw you wanted to hit.” While your hand is there … I was describing this to somebody and I liked the way they translated it. They said, “Oh, you’re saying block before talk.” So, I’ll use that.

And then when you talk, just say something that’s really connected to your child. In a positive way. In a helpful way. In a “I’m here to keep you safe” way. Like, “Whoa, I saw you were doing that, I’m here.” Or “Seemed like you wanted to say hi to them, but I’m not going to let you do it that way.” And before you say those things, your hand is there. You’re not picking your child up and taking them completely out of the situation. That’s overkill. That’s an overreaction that just teaches him, whoa, I can’t handle these situations and I’m not safe. And my mother’s afraid of me and she thinks that I’m a bad kid that she’s gotta like, take me totally out of the situation.

I mean if something is rampant and it keeps continuing, then I would say, “You know what, I think we’re going to have to go.” or “I think we’re going to have to go into another room for a bit because you’re not safe here” And then I would consider whether you can go home or have the play date at your house another day. Seeing that he just can’t do it right now, for whatever reason.

Beating kids on their face and pushing them, so none of this is okay to do. And she can’t let it happen. And when it does happen and when it gets away from her. When it gets away from us as parents, instead of going in and now making it worse by telling him how wrong he was, again. And she’s going to make him say he’s sorry, which I don’t recommend. I have an article about that on my website, “You’ll Be Sorry.” That explains my view on that, but it really is not helpful. Again its a … Let’s go back to the chocolate sundae. Now you have to write an essay about how you shouldn’t eat a chocolate sundae.

That’s sort of what were asking them to do. It’s not going to help. It’s only going to make things worse. It’s only going to make him more aware that he has a big problem that you want him to solve. That you’re not going to be there just to help stop him. And he’s showing you that for whatever reason he’s not ready to do it. He’s not ready to solve this problem himself. He’s not ready to stop and this is probably not just going to phase out without some cost in your relationship.

So, I would change to a more protective, caring, whoa, buddy approach that comes from love. That doesn’t see him as this evil animal out there that you can’t relate to. Put your arms around him, figuratively. Let him know that you’re there. You’re on it. You’re not going to let it go for one second. That would be letting him down. So, when something does happen and I deal with this with children in my classes all the time. Something does happen that I’m not there to block or help with or the parent isn’t there to block or help with. My feeling about it is, “whoa, sorry I wasn’t there to help when you were going to that place.”

I realize this could be seen as totally permissive. It is absolutely not. It is not letting any of this get away from us but seeing it for what it is. And when children feel like we see them for who they are, these wonderful souls that, yeah they’ve got a lot of impulsive behavior. And we may be able to figure out other places that it’s coming from. When a child is more tired. When a child is hungry. Going through a big transition or just dealing with a small daily transition. But, another reason it could have been is that the child tried it out once, maybe it was a little bit of a sensory seeking hit or something. “I just want to feel these people’s bodies that I’m coming up to.” Or,  “Somebody’s next to me, what happens if I do this?” And then the response they get turns it into an issue. Turns it into, “Wow, they don’t have a handle on this. I’m on my own in this. I’m not safe.” And that feeling of insecurity inside is what creates more of the behavior.

I was talking to my husband about this podcast and this question this parent asked and he was saying that he remembers when he was younger and he just wanted to see what would happen if he pushed somebody really hard or hit someone. It wasn’t out of anger. It wasn’t … I guess you could say it was like this mother said. It was like a thrill, but it was more just an exploration. So, if children explore this way and the result is that people are talking to them about it, obviously upset. They’re getting isolated in time-out for it. That’s an experiment they might have the impulse to keep trying. To see if they can get that protection. To understand why they have such power.

I’ve worked with families that have children that just keep doing that. They keep out of the blue hitting or pushing and we’ve worked hard on figuring out what’s going on. A lot of times we don’t have the complete answer, but what always works is just to be there for our child. To stop our child right away. More action, less talk. Saying very little about it. Then letting it go right away. Getting ready for the next one, if it happens. If it seems overwhelming and we don’t want to handle that anymore, we leave. We respectfully take our child out of the situation. Respectfully towards our child. Not just carrying them out like a wild animal.

So, yeah, these are challenging situations and I can certainly understand this parent’s concern and it’s very frustrating. I know I work with a lot of parents with this issue and it does go away. And it goes away sometimes immediately when that parent starts to take more calm physical control. Being ready. Being on our child’s team and letting them know that we’re there to help and we’re going to stop them right away. Not expecting our words are going to be able to do that, because they aren’t.

So, I hope that’s helpful. Besides my “You’ll Be Sorry” article, you might also wish to take a look at “Biting, Hitting, Kicking And Other Challenging Toddler Behavior.” And also another article that I have called, “A Toddler’s Need For Boundaries, No Walk In The Park.”

Also, please checkout some of my other podcasts at website. They’re all indexed by subject and category so you should be able to find whatever topic you’re interested in. And remember I have books on audio at, No Bad Kids, Toddler Discipline Without Shame and Elevating Child Care, A Guide To Respectful Parenting. You can also get them in paperback at Amazon and an ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and

Also I have an exclusive audio series, Sessions. There are five individual recordings of consultations I’ve had with parents where they agree to be recorded and we discuss all their parenting issues. We have a back and forth that for me is very helpful in exploring their topics and finding solutions. These are available by going to and you can read a description of each episode and order them individually or get them all about three hours of audio for just under $20.

Thanks so much for listening. We can do this.


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. This sounds so much like something my son was going through at 18 months. I was pregnant at the time and really struggling with my son’s behavior. Janet’s approach and articles on this have helped us a huge amount, and 8 months on, his hitting is a rare occurence. His vocabulary has also developed a great deal in this time, and I believe that has helped him process what is happening too.

    I also want to say that it’s been really important for us to have compassionate friends in our lives. People have found it all too easy to misunderstand and judge our son (and us as his parents) at this age and that has felt very isolating at times. It is reassuring to hear that other parents go through this stage, and that we aren’t alone!

    1. Yay, Nadya! I’m so glad this approach helped you. I also agree completely with having compassionate friends in lives. Children need compassion and we do, too!

  2. This article resonates so much with my stepson however he is quite a bit older, but often acts like a toddler still. Do you think this is possible to teach to an 8 year old? Who seems to be stuck in an impulse control physical pattern with his 5 year old sister…it drives everyone crazy how much he physically torments her, then he gets the negative reaction from her and then his father reacts emotionally, admittedly, on a bad day I do too – as it is incessant some days, seemingly purposeful and cruel. The talking doesn’t work. Consequences don’t work. Asking her to sit with me is the only thing I’ve found to work, telling her I’ll keep her safe – but on a good day she wants to still go and play with him! I’d love to teach them all RIE but they are only with us 50% of the time, and quite active so it’s hard to be physically between them. I also have a newborn due in 4 weeks which I’m planning on implementing RIE with – but with two out of control step children it seems near impossible to help them!

    1. Yes! This is what I also need info on. My six year old is the exact same. He’s so strong that I feel like I’m wrestling him to have a time-in with him- he doesn’t want to talk either. But I so empathize with the seemingly incessant hitting some days. He’ll even chase sister around and refuse to separate. I’ll hold him with me and then as soon as he sees her, he tries to break free to hit her again. I’m at my wit’s end to just get it to STOP with him

  3. It might also be well worth researching Sensory Processing Disorder issues for this child. My three-year-old son was repeatedly pushing other children, despite knowing it was wrong and genuinely feeling bad about it, and thank goodness his school psychologist observed and suggested SPD. Fifteen months later and two rounds of treatment later, he’s like an entirely different person in the best way: he’s able to use words instead of pushing, he’s so much more in control of his self-regulation, and we (his parents) were better able to respond to his physical needs while also using RIE for his emotional ones. I strongly recommend finding a specialist to see if this might help this mother.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Ellie. I agree that it couldn’t hurt to get an assessment. I’m glad you found the help you needed.

  4. What about for a two and half year old who hits mom, dad, grandpa, grandma on purpose when he is mad? If we say no to something or say he can’t do or have something his reaction is to say “No mommy!” and start hitting. I’m at a loss what to do. He knows he is doing it, is very verbal and I put him in time out for hitting. When I walk back in he says “We don’t hit Mommy I’m sorry” and he hugs and kisses me.

    1. Would love to hear Janet’s thoughts on this, as well. My 3 year old does the exact same thing — physically striking me, his mother, uncle, and grandparents when he doesn’t get his way. Not sure when you posted this comment, Coreen, but has any progress been made?

      The best we’ve come up with is to physically restrain him with our hands, holding him and trying to determine if he’s hungry or tired, or if he’s just simply frustrated due to not getting what he wants. Sometimes we can catch him before he hits, and perhaps that’s the best time to hep him work through it — but that’s not always possible. My guess from reading Janet’s writings is that the best we could do is to catch him before he hits, hold him, and let him know that we’re here to help him work through his big feelings? But, I also see her saying less talk, more immediate action — so it’s a little confusing. Wish she’d chime in on this one.

      1. Melissa Bearup says:

        I am experiencing the same thing with our 2.5 year old boy but the hitting also extends to his 7 month old baby sister. He hits when he is told no and can’t get his way. I have done a lot of physically stopping him but it’s hard to do that very gently now with a baby in my arms. He hasn’t stopped hitting and it has been over a year. He has excellent language and can often express that he was sad or mad so he hit. I totally get that it’s just an impulse that he needs help to manage and I do stop him most of the time but it just isn’t possible all the time. Luckily he is not hitting other kids. He seems to know we’re his safe haven and that it’s going to be ok.

  5. Erica Arrias says:

    Hi Janet! I am a new follower of your blog <3 I'm trying to find a way to carry this over to my child's (3 yo) latest um… behavior. He isn't hitting or biting, rather he's too affectionate! He tries to hug everyone at his nursery school, hold their hands, kiss them, squeeze their cheeks-teachers included! Dad and I are affectionate in an average sort of way with each other …. but I would say really affectionate with our nugget..oy! I get a little embarrassed when my sweet boy does this. He makes this face where he grits his teeth.. almost like an adult would do when they say something like, "oh, I just wanna squeeze those cheeks", when they are overcome with love and adoration for a new baby. I'm going to try to step in and "block" before it happens, but I'm concerned because I'm not at school with him.

  6. Hi Janet,
    Thank you for this post and all you do. I am experiencing similar with my nearly three year old. But his impulse is more shouting (though he does hit as well), at close range to other children and to adults that try to interact with him. He sometimes has friendly chats with the same adults but most of the time gives a loud “egh”. I originally addressed it by saying you don’t have to talk if you don’t want to but that noise isn’t friendly. I model what I think he should be saying. I have moved on to ignoring now.

    I am doing my best to be unruffled in the moments. But afterwords I am worrying as is my husband. We worry he will be the kid parents don’t want to be around. We do have a few understanding friends, but are also hearing from family that he is like this because he doesn’t have enough social interaction.

    He is an amazing little guy with a huge vocabulary, he is inquisitive and loves being physically active. He is my only child and I stay home full time with him. I really try to keep a slow lifestyle and after getting household requirements done I follow his lead and interests. I follow a lot of Montessori methods and am open to home education/unschooling. I am confident in our life choices, but this one area does leave me slightly worried. Am I doing him a disservice??

    Sorry this has turned into a long reply, just hoping to find some help.

    Thanks so much!

  7. Hillary Strack-Cheng says:

    Hi Janet, thanks for this episode. I’ve listened to it twice now and I’m trying to figure out how to relate it to my situation. I have a 17 month old daughter and we have two other kids at our house during the day who I watch. The little boy who is 18 months has started shoving all the time almost every few minutes. I’m being there and present for him ‘block before talk’ like you suggest as much as I can however I also need to console the other kids who are constantly getting pushed down and feeling scared/hurt/etc. Basically I’m wondering what advice I could give his parents about how to help him. It seems like this behaviour is the product of a need he has, maybe for more attention? Thanks so much

  8. Hi Janet..
    Can I hug you?
    I have a 3.5 yr old sonwith a 4 month old daughter.. my son who has always been a very easy child, almost never tested limits as a toddler ( though I don’t really know if that is healthy) has this impulsive hitting and ‘hugging too much’ behaviour from the time I discovered I was pregnant with the second.. it dint help that he started preschool at the same time.. but after initial impulsive hitting at school he sort of settled.. but after my delivery it has become much more of a problem.. he also puts his fingers in his mouth which is a new behaviour now, I have noticed that he does so when he is unsure of himself as in a new place or if he wants a reaction out of me..
    I have switched to unruffled responses.. hope that helps..
    I have made many mistakes parenting him like I never let him barefoot or let him explore all rooms of my home as an infant..
    I was obsessed with cleanliness and never let him keep/explore anything with his mouth as an infant.. is that causing his finger in mouth behaviour?
    I have a cousin of mine living in another city, her maternal home is near my house and she brings her kid 4 year old and her brother’s kid 7 year old boys to play in the yard in my house..When the two boys come they keep to themselves and are not open to playing with my child.. they come to ride their cycles but are too fast for my son.. the 7 year old lives near my house all the time.. (but I have not taken my son there to play with him before my delivery, I don know why .. may be I was tired with my pregnancy and I was working full time.. and I dint think a 7 year old would like playing with a 3 year old.. maybe if he was already friends with the 7 year old, then my son could be accepted easily as a play mate?) that is not a pre arranged play date.. just an informal gathering.. she just comes in if she is in town.. my son likes the 4 year old but impulsively Hits him and hugs too suddenly.. the 4 yr old keeps on calling my son bad boy.. my son sometimes is aggravated but mostly doesn’t bother.. he still likes the 4 year old.. once he hit the other boy and I dint press him to say sorry he took his best toy and offered it to the other boy who refused to touch it and so my son was upset.. the other kid was hungry by that time and his mother left with him and after that my son was asking “why did he go”.. I just told him his friend was hungry and so they left..
    And this mostly it is in the evenings.. some days son hasn’t napped.. he is in a nap transition now

    My questions

    1. When my child Hits and then genuinely says sorry or makes amends but is not accepted by the other child and so is upset what do I do..
    2. I have a 4 month old baby who gets hungry now and then during these playdates and I have to go feed her.. during those times I can’t be sons buddy.. what do I do.. sometimes I can’t effectively block the Hits when I am holding the baby.. naturally my reflexes are a bit slow on top of all this
    3. When the other child keeps on calling my son bad boy( under his breath so that his mother doesn’t hear him, she rebuked him once for that name calling) every time he nears my son what to do.. it might be getting to my child..
    5. It doesn’t help that my son is not patient to know the basic rules of playing games like piggy in the middle (he gets angry if somebody takes the ball without him getting it) or football( that is you hit towards an area which is your goal post and not in the opposite direction.. ).. he also is not dextrous enough catch balls.. those kids love ball games and the fact that my son caanot play them well also has an impact probably? I tried teaching but he is not interested.. and he doesn’t wait n observe the rules before going the game..
    Sometimes I am really sad if my not letting him explore has made him physically underdeveloped?.. so wat do I do
    wo months back we had to attend a funeral and because I had to be with my baby I couldn’t be with my son at all.. there were lots of children and my mil was keeping an eye on him.. that was when his impulsive hitting was too much.. he must have been over excited and hungry.. according to my mil he kept on hitting others.. we couldn’t leave as it was a close relative of ours who passed away m we were the hosts.. later that day, after I fed him and made him rest my son was in a good mood and went to play again, he was met with “take him away, he will hit ” from other kids.. you have said that loving your child means seeing to that he s not perceived as a brat.. I feel so guilty.. those are kids we see very rarely, so I guess they would be more accepting when they see him again after months.. but I am concerned about what my son thinks of himself.. I believe in his goodness.. and I will show him that.. but what will peer rejection do to him?

    6. on top of it, we have changed his school this year as I felt his previous school was a lot more stifling and the teachers were making a big deal out of my son’s sudden aggression.. I am going to send him to a Waldorf school run by my friend as I thought it was far more accepting of children as they are.. this is one more major change for him.. but in Waldorf the teachers don’t really block Hits.. if teachers there do not block before he hits, what do i do.. is it enough that I do it.. but in school he will be a lot more unsure and more impulsive

    7. And I live with my in laws so all that I am learning from reading your articles and implementing at home, I can’t make them do too.. will different people at home handling things differently confuse my child?

    Is it enough that I change, or should I press for the same change in my in laws in the way we handle my son.. I am asking this because convincing them is tricky..

    I know the post is long n may be incoherent but that is how I am feeling now.. hope you reply.. thanks already.. I feel around 50percent lighter already after reading your posts..

  9. Hi, This advice makes a lot of sense, yet I don’t see how practical it is for a child who keeps hitting a sibling. I am dealing with this with my 3 yo who keeps hitting his brother, who is 2, on the head or biting him. This goes on at least a few times throughout the day. I can only remove them from each other for so long especially since they both want to be with each other a lot and want to play with each other. I feel like how am I supposed to be watching him constantly at his side the whole day? Is there any other practical tips because I am at a loss!

  10. Thank you for this! I’m curious about how to handle it when your child is on the receiving end of the hitting or pushing. We’re in a situation now where my 5 month old has been the recipient of repeat pushing and hitting from an 11 month old at a weekly class. We all sit in a circle with our babies, and despite efforts to move spots, we manage to end up in close proximity. Sometimes my baby seems a little confused when it happens, other times he cries. I try to anticipate it happening, but I also don’t want to make the other child or his mother feel bad. I wanted to give the other child an opportunity to engage with my baby in a different way, and I’ll encourage him to be gentle and friendly. I don’t believe the other child is bad or mean or doing anything other than trying to express something within. I also fully understand that the tables could easily be turned. I don’t want to shame him or his mom, but I also don’t want to set my baby up to not feel safe. What can I do to strike a balance between the two?

  11. To be honest, I’ve followed your approach for months and it has me in tears of frustration. It doesn’t work. It’s literally impossible to be within arm’s reach of a toddler at all times, simultaneously stopping him from behavior and putting the focus on consoling the victim. The idea that I could just calmly take him away if he can’t handle it – the decision to leave under these circumstances triggers an instant meltdown so if I want to follow through it requires “carrying him out like a wild animal”. Of course, following through is also imperative, so kind of a catch-22. This is a normal, non special needs child who is verbal, totally capable of friendly play, and strongly attached to his closest playmates. Parents, this kind of advice is cruel, and don’t be discouraged by reading it.

    1. Thanks for your feedback. I’m so sorry this approach hasn’t worked for you and that it’s upset you. How have you handled this behavior in the past? In other words, what do you see as viable alternatives? I’m wondering about your child’s readiness for these social situations you are describing. It sounds like he finds them stressful. Do you have a sense of what triggers him to hit the other children? It’s a sign that he is uncomfortable and struggling to contain himself. So, I would perceive actions as “help” and “I don’t think I can be here right now.” I think Mona Delahooke’s work would be very helpful to you in understanding and responding productively to your son’s behavior. She has a wonderful book called “Beyond Behaviors” and she was a guest on my podcast: We can’t make a positive change in behavior until we understand the “why.” Please hang in there. This, too, shall pass.

  12. Krista Kleeman says:

    Janet this is very very helpful. I’m looking through your previously published articles and podcasts and wondering if you have ever addressed this same bx with family pets?
    If you’re unable to respond I will apply these interventions and see how it goes but more guidance would be thoroughly appreciated. Single mama trying to figure this out alone without any like-minded support system- pretty lonely, frustrating and confusing experience.
    Thank you so much either way!

      1. Krista Kleeman says:

        Thank you Janet! Wish you had your RIE classes in Sacramento! Enjoyed them as a nanny for a family in Santa Monica years ago and apply everything I learned now w my own child.

  13. Hi, I really appreciate the thoughtful and respectful approach to this. I have been struggling with my daughter for over a year now and have not gotten anywhere. As someone who has a background in psychology and child welfare, I definitely believe in this approach and that children who hit are scared and very sensitive. But it’s very difficult when you wholeheartedly believe in this and have followed this approach exactly and are still dealing with hitting, kicking and pushing for this long. I know it’s a phase, but it’s hard when none of my friend’s kids have this much trouble or have gone through this difficult phase for as long as we have. Luckily, our friends are understanding and respect that I’m not ok with punishing my child for this, but it’s still very hard. I will add that it worsened after I became pregnant (I’m about to give birth any day now) and I’m sure she feels threatened by our new addition coming . I just wanted to put this out there because I feel that even when we as parents are doing all the things to help our children, it can still persist and it’s not because we are missing something. Hopefully it will get better eventually.

  14. Thanks for all you do! What do you suggest in cases where the violence is more extreme and requires actual force to separate, not just blocking – my 3.5 year old tackles her 1 year old sister, grabs her around the waist and squeezes as tight as she can. She often lays on top her and pushes her head into the ground. I have to really use force to get her off and feel terrible about it.

  15. My one year old hits and has been doing it since 9 months old. She does it especially to me (mom) and it does seem to be when she is frustrated or angry, like especially when it is time to sleep. She is a very sweet and caring baby but does this over and over. I say, “I’m not going to let you hurt me,” and move/hold her hands away. I say, “Gentle. Gentle.” while using her hands to make gentle strokes on my face and even hers. It does no good. She immediately goes back to hitting. Some nights are worse than others. Last night, she didn’t hit once. Tonight she was hitting nonstop. I know it is normal behavior on one hand but on the other I just feel like I’m doing it all wrong and just have to go cry. I don’t know what else to do.

  16. Hi Janet, I have a 3 year old and a 7 month old. The older ones behaviour can be very erratic. lots of energy and tearing around, noisy. Pretty normal toddler behaviour I know. What I am worried about is the way he has so much tension, his jaw is often locked and he shouts through gritted teeth. what can I do to help him release this tension appropriately? He has also started hitting his own head a number of times and without an action say ‘hit, hit, hit’ at the end of speaking when he’s in this super tense place, which is pretty often when were at home.
    I have learned a lot from reading your article and listening to your podcasts, in relation to the hitting himself on the head, he has got responses in the past from me which have been emotional and confused so that is probably why he keeps doing it. I have been inconsistent because i’ve not always known whether to intervene and stop him. It feels like a game and I wasn’t sure if it would contribute to that game. I thought maybe its just sensory stimulation (but then I should still stop him doing it?) and wanting attention (should I ignore it?). He’s not actually hurting himself. But I think I feel clearly now that I should be stopping him whenever I can, would you agree? Its very hard to though, as he just squirms his hand away and does it again, I cant take him away from himself. He’s also just starting to get the idea to do it to his little brother too- whom he’s never responded well too, and expresses a strong dislike most of the time. I’m wondering if the tension and behaviours are all related to that as its come on more strongly since his brother arrived (although the tension and explosiveness was there before too). We talk about how its ok to dislike his brother and I let him express his thoughts and feelings about him verbally. We are also reading books about anger and jealousy.
    Do you have any more advice for us?
    Thank you so much,

  17. What if you aren’t present to stop them? It would be great if I could be nearby to stop every thrown toy or prevent every hair pull (2yr old twins) but it can happen so quickly when watching them while doing something like dishes. If I’m present I obviously stop them from doing it but how to you respond if it’s already occurred? Do you still use minimal to no talking? How would they know the behavior should be corrected? My husband resorts to time outs but I feel conflicted about that

  18. Hello,Janet! What do you suggest when my 2 year old hits some kid in the park (out of the blue I would say, when a kid gets close to her) and after that she keeps telling me “i hit that boy”.. even 2-3 days after. Or she asks “can I hit grandpa? Can i hit my friend?”. I don’t understand this… it’s creeping me out a bit as she shows that she knows what she is doing and sometimes she makes it intentional. Please tell me your opinion. Thank you!

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