My little angel, Elliott, has started to show his little devil side lately through hitting.
I’ve been putting it down to the fact that he’s frustrated and still can’t communicate to us properly. Elliott’s speech is still a little delayed due to having mild hearing loss and subsequent surgery to remove his adenoids and insert grommets late last year. But, I still haven’t been sure if how I’m dealing with the hitting behaviour is correct or effective.
Upon doing some research on toddler hitting, I was really glad to see that I was in fact on the right track in dealing with Elliott’s hitting behaviour during his tantrums. I try my best to be very calm about it when he does it me, I tell him that it’s not a nice thing to do, that it hurts and that we don’t hit Mummy and Daddy. Sometimes I show him my emotions by being upset and saying I’m sore, letting him know that it hurts Mummy when he hits. I also try talking to him to let him know that I understand that he is frustrated and work really hard to figure out what is it he wants or how he’s feeling, this is the hardest part.
It was good to find some other information on why toddlers hit and ways to limit the toddler hitting behaviour, some of the information I found was very reassuring and has given me a sense of relief:
Toddlers are very limited in knowing how to deal with emotions
Toddlers are still very limited in knowing how to deal with their emotions, challenging situations or if they are tired or hungry. I know that when Elliott is hungry, unless he points to the fridge or cupboard, he doesn’t understand the ‘hunger’ feeling and instead throws a tantrum because of it and when I try to calm him, he starts hitting because I don’t understand how he’s feeling or what he wants.
Model the behaviour you want to see in your child
Of course it makes sense that if your toddler is hitting that you don’t hit them back, this isn’t setting a good example and will show them that it really is OK to hit. The other thing that I try really hard to do, even when I feel like I could snap, is to keep calm and not lose my temper. Again, it’s about modelling good behaviour and if we want our toddlers to control their anger, we have to be able to show we can do it too. I must admit there have been times when I’ve snapped and must always try to control this for the sake of Elliott’s development.
Explain to the toddler
I’m really glad I’m doing this one right, explaining the effects of hitting. For example, I usually say “Mummy and Daddy are not for hitting” or “You don’t hit Mummy but you can give her a big hug.”
Explain the effects
Help the toddler understand the effects of their hitting. For example in my case, I say “How does Mummy feel when you hit her?” As mentioned earlier, I also show my emotions and that the effect of his hitting really hurts me and makes me sad.
Don’t take it personally
makes a good point in that we should not take a toddlers hitting behaviour personally and that it is simply a little lost child’s call for help. I remember when Elliott first started hitting me I was shocked, I was really upset and I did take it personally. Janet continues to say that it’s about rising above the fray as mature adults and providing assistance, communicating and following through, such as, “You’re having a hard time not hitting, so I will help by holding your hands” instead of “Why don’t you listen to me?”
One thing I need to remember about Elliott’s hitting behaviour is that it is normal and it’s not naughty or bad. He’s still at a stage where he cannot properly communicate his feelings and this is how he does it. I try to put myself in his situation and how I would feel if I felt a certain way or if there was something I wanted and there was no way I could communicate it, I would feel quite anxious, possibly scared and frustrated. As much as I’m empathetic to Elliott’s frustrations, it’s important that I’m also the support he needs to overcome them.
Have you had or do you have a hitting toddler? How have you dealt with it?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT