Hello my loving parents,

So imagine that you’re playing peek-a-boo with your little 25 month old having a great time, when all of a sudden your tot gets so excited she smacks you right in the face. Ouch!! There are many ways to handle this situation but before we do, lets figure out why exactly your tot insists on hitting.

L.R. Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources and discusses this topic quite frequently. We all know that toddlers are growing beings, but often forget that they are still developing on the inside as well!

They have limited impulse control and still haven’t conquered verbal communications… heck they haven’t even scratched the surface! Now lets add some social norms & expectations to the mix and you’re going to have a very confused and frustrated little being.

why toddlers hit and how to stop it

Why Toddlers Hit

Emotions are something a child is still trying to understand, they are impulsive because that’s what they’re developmentally capable of at this time in their life. Stressed feelings such as anger, exhaustion, and confusion can lead to hitting much quicker than feelings of excitement because those feelings are much more difficult for (even us) to control and hitting is the easiest outlet. It’s important for us to understand that it is actually our conjecture on hitting that needs to be evaluated.

In our home we practice gentle parenting and, like many others with a similar parenting style, puzzle over where the child picked up the physically aggressive behavior. Shane was under the impression that hitting should resort in a punishment such as time out, because it is an undesirable behavior that needs to be corrected. However the more and more I read on the subject the further I pushed that thought out of my head. Some parents try to correct their child by yelling, spanking or hitting. These are neither logical nor appropriate options and will not work, even worse, can backfire on you because you are now showing that hitting is acceptable under certain circumstances (maybe that is why your child hits another child as a ‘punishment’). Unfortunately, the majority still believes and even advises spanking to ’train’ their children not to hit…do you see how counterintuitive that is? (Check out this post > 4 steps on how to stop yelling)

“Responding with counter-aggression by powering-up on a child, whether physically or verbally, merely reinforces the idea that ‘might make right’ and that whoever is the dominant figure at any given moment has the right to force others to bend to their will.”

L.R. Knost

Let’s take a step back from these situations and analyze your expectations compared to reality. Figure out what developmental stages your child is at and what their basic nature is, after doing your research you will see that this is actually a normal reaction for their age. It’s not that your child is choosing over and over to disobey you, the truth is your child does not yet have the function for forethought just yet, which results in the previously mentioned impulses. Reason being is that their prefrontal cortex is still immature, this is the part of the brain that is responsible for reasoning, forethought and logic.

why toddlers hit and how to stop it

How to Stop Toddlers From Hitting

If you correct your child by those listed above, first things to do are to refrain from punishing in that way and instead try these out! Remember to always be calm and collective during these times, step back from the situation for a moment to gather your thoughts and emotions before acting.


  • Get down on their level and address the emotion and verbally try to find an alternative solution, such as “I can see that you’re mad because mommy isn’t playing with you, but use your words and not your hands? Please don’t hit mommy because that hurts when you hit.”
    • Ava will always apologize at this point and give me a few kisses on the cheek.
  • Remind your child to use gentle hands “Can you show mommy/papa your gentle hands?”
    “I can see that you are feeling mad, but we only use gentle hands on mommy. How about you kick this ball as hard as you can!” Have a frustration ball; to kick, throw, etc, outside or in a safe room. This can change a child’s mood almost instantly and can turn into a game if you get involved with your child.

** Remember a child is allowed to feel frustrated and angry, but should know they are not allowed to hit.

If your child hits or pushes another child

  • It’s very important that you keep calm during this time to show both children how to act in stressful situations.

    “What you are actually doing is modeling self-control and coping mechanisms, important components for your child to learn in order to master their impulse to lash out.” first tend to hurt child, address their needs.” L.R. Knost

  • If the child needs a band-aid or an icepack see if the other child will assist you in getting it for them.
    Use this alone time to talk to your child calmly that it’s not right nor nice to hit or push. Make sure that you don’t lash out or blame right away, see what events led up to the aggressive behavior and discuss what other options they could have had, and state that those options should be used in the future instead of hurting someone.
  • See if the child would like to say sorry in a special way such as coloring a sorry card or making a yummy snack for them. Never force a child to say sorry when they don’t want to, as that can lead to negative or empty emotions towards “sorry”.


  • Remind your child to use gentle hands “Can you show mommy/papa your gentle hands?’
  • Giving alternatives to hitting such as “Clap your hands” or “Give me a high five!” so that the hitting can still take place but in a more appropriate way to help express their feelings of excitement.

One thing to remember is that your child still might hit, but you are giving them alternatives for the future. You will notice one day, that they use them and some days they don’t, it’s not that you’re failing but that they are still not mentally capable of holding back at this time. By modeling a calm and collective composure will teach your child how to handle situations like these in the future when they are able to control their impulses.

Be sure to snap a photo & hashtag #omlivin of your family adventures! I would love to see your littles enjoying life!


Question of the Day:

How do you work with your child to get them to stop hitting? What worked for you & what didn’t? Let me know in the comments down below!

Be sure to come back on our next Family Friday for more articles pertaining to family lifestyle & an alternative way of raising children. Don’t forget you can always subscribe to receive weekly emails in your inbox! Comments are always welcomed as well as opinions on my social media pages,  | Instagram | Twitter | Google+. Please try to be open minded towards each other and remember we are all trying to do what’s best. We can only expand our knowledge to those who are willing to hear it. Be educated, be wise and be kind. Thanks for reading and be sure to snuggle extra long with your littles this weekend, they won’t be little for long. ॐ❤

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