Discipline Approach for Dealing with Toddlers Hitting

sad toddler

Steps for responding to toddlers hitting:

1. Express empathy for the child who hit using words like "You were angry and decided to hit." Avoid acting in ways that draw the child's attention away from his poor choice:
  • Yelling at the child or showing anger.
  • Giving a mini-lecture about the problems with hitting.
  • Hitting the child back.
2. State the consequence using words like "Time for a little bedroom time" if the consequence is a brief timeout or "You hit, you sit" if the consequence is sitting down.
  • Guide them to sitting down nearby (this will probably motivate them to quickly change their behavior in order to rejoin the fun) or have them go to their room.
  • Let children decide when they are ready to return. Tell them they are welcome to come back as soon as they decide to play without hitting.
  • Stay calm and avoid showing anger or disappointment. By keeping your emotions under control, children can focus on their behavior and the related consequences.
  • Use this time to comfort the child who was hit.
3. Welcome the child who hit back using words like "It's great to have you back!" Things to avoid:
  • Warning the child: "You know if you hit again you'll be in timeout again."
  • Explaining why he was in timeout.
  • Scolding the child: "You should never hit. Hitting people is not nice."
4. Repeat these steps if the child hits again. The child will soon learn that hitting is never acceptable and results in removal from a fun situation.

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