A Toddler Hitting Parents is very normal behaviour. Most parents who try to discipline their toddlers will experience this type of aggressive behaviour.
However, problems can occur when your toddler is so frustrated and is in a temper rage, a mini-meltdown or having an extreme temper tantrum when they decide to hit you.
This is when it can become both unsafe for you and your child as they will choose physical expression for forceful behaviour.
Related: Toddler Hitting Self
Learning how to stop a child from hitting a parent can take time. You may need to redefine your approach to discipline and really get to the core reason for the behaviour.
Toddler Hitting Parents: 6 Effective Strategies
1. Understand & Evaluate
The first thing to do is put yourself in your toddler’s shoes. Ask yourself:
What has forced them to be so frustrated that they want to lash out?
Is it a particular time of day?
Have them been experiencing any healthy issues (like teething) or they frustrated whilst watching TV or mimicking something they have seen?
You need to evaluate where the frustration is coming from and then draw a realistic conclusion on how swift your action you take will be.
Next, think about why your toddler would hit you in the first place. What are the reasons that has lead up to this aggression? Maybe it was a one-off, and your toddler did it by mistake.
In most cases however toddlers hit their parents as a means of expression a last resort, as they feel they are not being heard.
Remember that the toddler hitting phase usually only last a few years. As your toddler gets more developed and is able to express themselves better this type of aggressive behaviour should stop.
2. Be Calm
The most effective way to handle a situation like this is by remaining calm. Toddler hitting parents during tantrums can be a very intimidating action.
When you show no signs of extreme angry or stress, your toddler will not mirror your reactions. Staying calm doesn’t mean you cannot be stern and direct.
Keep a strong and firm but polite tone and remind your toddler that it is not OK to hit. Also, remind your toddler that hitting will not solve the problem.
Also, keep in mind that toddlers sometimes don’t realise that they are causing you pain or discomfort. You must remind your toddler that hitting your, or anyone else hursts. This will help you learn how to stop a child from hitting a parent.
Listen to your child, and let them vent their anger. You can use other items to give to your toddler to do this. For example a toy hammer, or a soft pillow.
A toddler needs to express themselves and sometimes that means physical expression. However, hitting parents is not a normal form of expression and you must nip this behaviour in the bud as soon as possible.
Sometimes just by taking that extra few minutes and really understand what your toddler is frustrated about can help. Primarily, your efforts should be aimed at curbing aggressive and disruptive behaviour from happening at the outset.
When you totally understand what your child is upset about you can proactively find a solution. Sometimes this will mean that you can solve the problem in question. Other times it may not.
Importantly showing your child that you hear and understand their concerns may stop the aggressive behaviour from ever occurring.
Remember, your toddler is at a very key developmental milestone. At this crucial stage, they are able to understand more then they can express vocally. Normally hitting your parents is a sign that they are not being heard and they feel they have no other way to make their point be seen.
4. “1-2-3 Method“
This is a very simple, yet effective method that many parents successfully use. Here, you would give your toddler 3 chances to do something. Once you have given them enough warnings and they still don’t comply you enforce an appropriate punishment.
For example: taking away a toy, naughty step, No dessert etc
This is a very simple way to create a disciplinary foundation for when rules get broken. It also provides a clear framework to follow for your toddler.
Toddlers crave structure and repetition. If you are able to frame your discipline in this way it will become clearer for both you and your toddler. Consequently, this will make the day to day household routines smoother.
Ultimately toddlers hitting parents is just a way of expression and like other disruptive behaviours should be handled swiftly and calmly.
5. Establish Clear Rules
One of the household rules to establish in your house is respect. This will, of course, include the rule of no hitting, biting, kicking, or any other forms of physical aggression. If possible, have them printed and framed where the child can read them.
Also, remember that children do not fully understand negative commands. Instead of using “do not hit,” use “only use a respectful touch.”
Now that you have the “no hitting” rule create a definite consequence for when the rule is broken. Anytime the child hits you, do not spare him or her, but let them face the consequence.
Most parents give their children a time-out when a rule is broken, as it gives them time to calm down. Sometimes it might require withdrawing some privileges like screen time, or playtime, among others.
For those times that the children do not hit you hen mad or frustrated, use a reward system. This will encourage positive behavior and make it a routine.
6. Teach Anger Management Skills
As mentioned earlier, toddlers mostly hit parents when they are angry, frustrated, or to manipulate. When it comes to manipulation, you need to put your foot down all the time so that your “no,” always means “no”, and the child knows it.
Anger and frustration, on the hand, can be controlled. Start teaching your child anger management skills that they can use when they are angry. Instead of hitting you, they can either read a book, take a time-out in their room to keep calm, drawing, or even taking deep breaths.
When it comes to toddler’s hitting parents, one should not feel like failed parents. Take time to teach the child about feelings as well as how to deal with them. Also, establish rules about not hitting. With time, your child will learn better ways to approach you when mad.
For parents, the hardest part to get over is the shock that your child has just hit you and sometimes this can be too overwhelming. This is especially true for a toddler hitting parents during tantrums.
Remember, this behaviour is not personal and is a part of normal developmental growth. The worst thing you could do is respond with excessive force or excessive punishment.
Hopefully these “toddler hitting parents tips” will help eliminate aggressive behaviour. Usually, this type of behaviour is a phase and it will soon pass.