Hitting and Your 2-Year Old

January 29, 2013

…a flashback of days gone by!

I had a hitter, and it was a bitter pill to swallow for a person like myself who prided myself in the non violent and well researched techniques that I was was using to raise him.

Last week, while shopping at a local bookstore, I witnessed what could have been, for me, a flashback from thirty years ago.

A young boy of approximately 2 years old walked up to a like-aged girl in the children's reading section and hit her over the head with a book. What ensued was exactly what you would guess. The mother of the boy, obviously embarrassed, apologized profusely, while reprimanding her son and putting some distance between the children. The girl who was hit over the head was screaming loudly while her mother hovered over her, obviously upset…and so on.

Any of us who can relate to this incident are probably reliving a barrage of memories at this point, and are delighted that we no longer have a 2-year old hitter to deal with.

The simple truth is that most of them grow out of this stage fairly quickly, and that even with all the advice available from professionals and friends, there are no definitive answers to dealing with this issue. But there are some things, having been there, I know to be true:

  1. It is important to stay calm and consistent in your reaction
  2. Hitting or any other kind of aggressive behaviour is not ok
  3. There are often common elements found in these situations:
    • children are tired
    • children lack the language to deal with something
    • children are often over-stimulated or over-excited
    • children do not share favorite toys well at all (and shouldn't have to)
    • children lack the concept of sharing (develops at 3)
    • children have more aggression in small spaces and private homes

Your responsibility, obviously, is to react quickly, sternly and consistently when your child lashes out at another child , whether he has been provoked or not.

Do not retreat from social situations as this is what your child needs to learn the 'right' way to socialize with other children.

Be advised, some play groups will never work, and that's ok.

The key, as I experienced it, is patience and keeping your sense of humour. Although we all think that we are raising the perfect child, when the inevitable fall from grace happens, we have to realize that they are just 2, and that this too will pass.