Toddler Trigger: He Doesn't Feel Like Himself
When your toddler has an off day, he may simply lash out because he's cranky and doesn't have many coping skills. "Even kids who don't hit or bite often can lose control when they're stressed or at the end of a long day," says Dr. Schechter.
WHAT TO DO Paying attention to when and why your child has outbursts is one of the best ways to prevent them. If he hits when he's tired, have him take a nap at least an hour before a playdate, and put him to bed at the same time each night. Or if he bites when he's hungry, stick to a regular meal schedule and take snacks with you to the playground or on errands. When you notice his frustration level is rising (for instance, he can't get his favorite train to stay on the track), offer to help or get him involved in a new activity. You may be tempted to let hitting and biting slide when he seems out of sorts. But you should treat the incident as you do on any day -- otherwise, he may conclude that it's okay to act up in certain situations.
Originally published in the February 2010 issue of Parents magazine.