What can I do if my toddler hits me when he's angry?
My toddler hits me or my husband whenever he gets angry. What can we do?
Submitted by Parents.com Team

Toddlers are very vulnerable to frustration -- whether from not being able to tell you what he really wants for a snack, or because he's struggling to figure out how his new toy truck set works. And when the frustration reaches his personal tolerance level (some cope better than others), your kid may explode. Some kids have tantrums, some bang on the floor or throw things, and others hit their parents. The first line of defense in dealing with a toddler's anger is prevention. When you can see that struggling to open a toy box is no longer teaching your son manual dexterity, but is instead driving him crazy, offer just enough help so that he can succeed on his own. And when he's playing with other kids, don't leave him to navigate tricky social situations all alone; hang around to offer a diversion if it's needed. Hitting is never useful or acceptable, so the more you can avoid placing your son in situations where he becomes upset, the better.

When your kid does explode, the fact that he comes to you, even to hit you, is a sign that he wants your help. He wants you to take charge until he can regain his composure, so try to be empathetic (which we know is hard after you've just been whacked). The last thing your son needs now is to be pushed further over the edge with a time-out. Instead, try holding him and talking softly, while reminding him why we don't hit -- because it hurts Mommy and Daddy.

Copyright 2002. Updated 2009

Answered by Parents.com Team
Community Answers (17)

There's no better 'Toddler Whisperer' than Chris Thompson, for helping you learn how to speak effectively to your kids. (His gentle techniques even work for husbands!). Check him out here: http://www.gomommygo.com/Help_for_problems.html
Submitted by gomommygo

When my 20 month old hits me I say, "No hitting, only hugging" Then she hugs me and I say something like " I am sorry you are unhappy, Momma will fix it". I want her to know she can come to me or her Daddy for help and not get frustrated when she can't. I know she is only a year and half, but they do start to understand. Always best to talk it out and never hit/pinch back and I don't think time out is effective for that behavior.
Submitted by laurenkemp773115527

When my 20 month old hits me I say, "No hitting, only hugging" Then she hugs me and I say something like " I am sorry you are unhappy, Momma will fix it". I want her to know she can come to me or her Daddy for help and not get frustrated when she can't. I know she is only a year and half, but they do start to understand. Always best to talk it out and never hit/pinch back and I don't think time out is effective for that behavior.
Submitted by laurenkemp773115527

My 19 month old hits me sometimes too. Sometimes out of frustration, sometimes for attention. It is very normal for toddlers to hit. I tell my daughter, that hurts, no hitting, be gentle. We taught my daughter to give a hug and or kiss when to say sorry. At the toddler stage the best you can do is talk and show them the right thing. Depending on personality hitting or other aggression is the norm until they can communicate moe effectively.
Submitted by jic0930

My son is a REALLY good baby, but does hit from time to time. I tell him "No hitting. That hurts." and set him on the floor. He definitely gets it. But, he rarely gets that upset b/c we taught him to say "help" early on. He says it ALL the time when he needs help, and fully understands its meaning b/c we are right there to help him each and every time. He knows he can count on us.
Submitted by paralegal910

When you state a rule or give an action command, use the correct words.Positive-Your feet must stay on the floor.~~OR~~ The rule is:_____. When you use the word PLEASE when stating an action command, it gives the child THE IDEA that there is an option to the command. Ex.of a correct statement:It's time to put yur toys away. Also, young children DO NOT UNDERSTAND contractions. Ex.Don't, Can't,etc.~~~Instead of saying, "Don't hit me".~~~SAY, "YOU MAY NOT HIT Mommy" or "HITTING HURTS Mommy". EYE CONTACT is very important. Speak in a kind, firm voice. Also, when a child is playing, be sure and state, "I LIKE THE WAY YOU ARE TAKING TURNS WITH YOUR TOYS".~~~~YOUNG CHILDREN UNDERSTAND take turns better than the word share or sharing.
Submitted by

You can stop the hitting while it is occurring my softly holding/grabbing your child's hand when they are about to hit. Get at their eye level, then in a calm, but firm voice verify your child's feelings by saying something like "I know you are angry (sad, frustrated, mad, etc), but hitting hurts my body and makes me sad. Let's not hit when we are angry." You should put words to the child's feelings, then explain the effect their actions cause to others. .
Submitted by farmerson12

You can stop the hitting while it is occurring my softly holding/grabbing your child's hand when they are about to hit. Get at their eye level, then in a calm, but firm voice verify your child's feelings by saying something like "I know you are angry (sad, frustrated, mad, etc), but hitting hurts my body and makes me sad. Let's not hit when we are angry." You should put words to the child's feelings, then explain the effect their actions cause to others. Most children don't want to make their parents sad.
Submitted by farmerson12

my son is about to be three years oild an a couple more weeks and he a picky he only it freach fries and chicken tenders,if is not that he does not want it .he dont want me to feed him anything and when i do he takes off and runs and the room and slams the door. but when dad comes home and try to feed him he eats well. im worried about him not having a good diet.what can i do that will help.
Submitted by shrondabell1

We taught our 20 month old daughter "nice touches", that helps devert her negative energy to positive energy. It works EVERY TIME!!!
Submitted by muliz24

After he hits put him in time out. Once he has calmed down talk to him about why he is in time out and that hitting is not acceptable behavior. If you give him kisses and hugs after he hits you then he will think that to have affection from you he must hit you first.
Submitted by metzgermelissa

We are working on his vocabulary and whenever he is around something harmful, we say hurt i.e. the stove, hot food, etc. When he hits, we say hurt and make sad faces. I think that this will help him to connect the word to the feeling. So far, it's working, as soon as we say it, he stops.
Submitted by tonyandnakia

When our 17 month old hits us out of anger or frustration, we hold his hand down and speak to him in a loving voice, "no hitting please, only kiss and hug mommy/daddy!" Then we hug and kiss him afterwards and ask him to do the same. This works for him everytime as normally kids his age just crave for attention.
Submitted by teetat13

u must put him on a time out and him know what he is doing is wrong if u don't then he all alway do it even when your out so you have to put a stop now befor its too late.
Submitted by crj912

If he keeps hitting while you are holding him put him down so he knows that you are not going to let him hit you then follow the experts advice. If you are not holding him get his hands in yours then follow experts advice.
Submitted by tamiturner2

potty training
Submitted by hilikass