Tough Toddlers: 4 Common Triggers for Hitting and Biting

Toddler Trigger: He's Trying to Defend His Turf

You've probably noticed that your child hits and bites more often on the playground or at a playdate than at any other time. The reason? He's surrounded by a bunch of kids who grab his toys, push him down, or simply invade his space -- and they don't necessarily listen when he tells them "Stop!" or "Mine!" Not acting out in anger requires impulse control, which kids don't fully master until they're older.

WHAT TO DO If your toddler hurts someone, take time to cool down and give him the "no hitting/biting" speech. You can also ease tension by introducing another toy or game. "Distracting the kids with a new activity is often the easiest way to diffuse a dispute," says Dr. Floyd. If they're fighting over a toy, give it a minute to see whether they can resolve the conflict on their own. But when it looks like it's going to escalate into hitting or biting, say: "If you can't take turns, I have to take the truck away." And don't let your child keep a plaything that he's snatched aggressively. By making him give it back, you're letting him know that being rough won't get him what he wants.

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