2 year old hitting - FamilyEducation
2 year old hitting
09/22/2009 at 13:03 PM

Hello, I am new to this site and thought I would try it out.  I have a 2 year old boy who is wonderful most of the time, very friendly and outgoing.  However (as with most 2 year olds) he is very impatient and when my wife holds him or is working on his meal or getting him a snack he tends to slap her and this morning gave her a real whollop in the face (made her start to cry!).  I do not know where he picked up this behaviour but I need this to STOP asap.  I do not want him to think this is acceptable behavior and obviously the knee-jerk reaction is to yell stop it or no - not nice!  PLEASE can anyone offer advice??  He won't sit still in a chair if I try to put him there, but perhaps when he does this or something unacceptable to place him in his crib and walk away for a few minutes (obviously then telling him that was not nice and time for a time out)?  If so, how can I prevent him associating his crib with punishment?  PLEASE HELP!!  Thanks

My little Zach wouldn't sit still for time out, so I would sit with him on my lap, but I would ignore him.  No eye contact, I wouldn't respond to the sounds he made.  About 2 min time out for a 2 year old, 3 min for a 3 year old... like that.  I also think that an occasional genuine response, like yelling "Knock it off!"  is kind of good for a kid.


Hi there!  First of all, try not to completely stress about it.  This is normal for this age.  My daughter is 2 1/2 and still does this at times.  When this happens with us, we get down to her level; tell her there is absolutely no hitting; we tell her that hurts us; we have her apologize to us; and give her another way to get our attention or express her frustration.  She tends to respond well to that. I find that she thinks time outs are a game and she does better with the conversation and the redirection.  We also try to watch for the cues that may set her off.  If you know your son gets impatient during meal time, make a point to recognize his frustration and say thank you to him for not hitting and tell him he is doing well using his words.  I do think most of these things are phases and with time, patience and consistency, they will go away. Good luck.


I had another thought, too.  If this does happen mostly at meal times it could be a blood sugar problem.  Try giving him a protein snack about an hour before meal time, that way he will be hungry enough to eat something, maybe, at mealtime, but he won't be operating on low blood sugar.  2 year-olds and food,  I think that's the BIG battle.


Ian's Dad -
I have 4 grown children, have a degree in Early Childhood Education and 22+ years in the Childcare field.
Please believe me when I say....be careful of all the "techniques" out there.  The best very basic advice I have for you is to remember above all else - YOU are the parent and he is the child.
At this age you can not, must not, try to be his friend and try to win his love and acceptance.  It is your job to be his  authority.  Authority with love and respect, but he  needs to learn to respect and listen to you. We are all afraid of two words in this present generation and those words are "NO" and "obedience".
Parenting can be easier if you show unconditional love to your child and give him strong and consistant boundaries and insist that he obeys  you.

It is NOT acceptable for a child to ever hit his mother.It's really strange in today's society that spanking is taboo but children get away with hitting their parents all the time. Ian cant hit his mother or father. He needs to learn respect. Remember that a 2 year old's world revolves around him. He did not learn hitting from anyone except his own human nature. You need to train that nature to know where the boundaries are, and one of those boundaries is to never hit his parents. When his attitude is getting to that point, first try to redirect his attention to something he likes, not as a reward but a dirversion. If he is persistant, and he begins to hit or does hit mom. Grab his hand firmly (not hurting him) get down to his level and say "NO, you may not hit mommy!" and then turn him away and let him cry or direct his attention to something else. If he repeats the hitting, do the same. This time after telling hime "NO, you many not hit mommy!" put him in a chair. If he leaves it put him back. Repeat as many times as you need to until he stays. Remember that you can not reason with a 2 year old. He doesn't care if it hurts mommy. He doesn't understand a speech about hurting the world. He just needs to know that that action is unacceptable and he can not do it. You do not need to give this a title like "time out". Just do it. Do not use his crib because that should be his comfortable little safe haven at bed time.
If you need more information on exactly how to do those basic things, I would be glad to elaborate via email


I also have a 2.5 year old daughter that is in a hitting and hair pulling phase. She was a dream baby, great, sweet and for the most part is still the same. The hair pulling started at daycare. There was one day she was just going right over and pulling the hair of other children that were busy playing. So hard that she would actually grab hair and pull the other child right out of their seat. This does not happen every day, but maybe once every two weeks. The teacher claims it is unprovoked and for no reason??? When she pulls hair or swats at home it is usually when we have told her she can't have something that she wants. She reacts and says no with a swat. We have tried the time outs, we immediately get down to her level and tell her we do not hit other people and that it is not nice. We ask her to apologize and hug whomever she hit. Now she will hit and automaticallya sk for a hug before we can even react to the hit. My husband took her out to the mall today and a stranger walked by and rubbed my daughters back to pass her. The woman sat down on the bench beside my husband and my daughter reached over and swatted her face and knocked her glasses right off. My husband was so emberassed and apologized profusely. And did the same speal to my daughter that we don't hit. We went to the wiggles concert and were in a crowd of people holding kids. My daughter was pulling anyones hair that she could reach. She seems to find it hunuous?? I had to physically hold her arms down. What am I doing wrong and how can I get this to stop??

Sounds like she likes the attention, even if it's negative. Have you tried positive reinforcement? Also, start taking things away from her if she hits/pulls hair. Expl: Your daughter grabs hair at Wiggles concert, you leave concert. Daughter gets upset and hits you, you take something else away, and so forth. You may want to supply your daughter w/ as many things to keep her occupied as you can. The distraction may keep her mind off of hitting or pulling hair. Maybe get her a doll w/ hair she can brush, rather than pull. It cld teach her how to better treat others by learning to care for this doll. Hope this helps.

Thanks for this information MBeth. I have been going through the hitting, kicking, spitting right now with my 2 1/2 year old. I agree with everything you've said about the tough love. I have been working on it right now and hoping that the firm/strict time outs would help. We use to spank him, but we found that he would hit me back if I spanked him. So we have stopped that and just started sticking with the time outs. If he got up, we put him back. It's a tough time right now but I know that it takes time, but I've noticed a big change this past weekend from him. It's going to take more to change his ways and I don't expect him to be 100%. He is a 2 year old. But I just want him to respect me and the ladies at the day care. Thanks for your guidance MBeth, I thought I was doing everything all wrong but know I know that I may be on the right path with him.

Hi My 22 months old Son take revenge when me and my husband scold him for some wrong act. He comes back to us to take revenge and tries to slap us.Sometimes he is sitting on my stomach or on his father, he starts slapping us intenionally if we scold him. Dont know where he is learning all these things.He wants us to look at him when we slap him so that he gets concentration while crying. He really tries to use his nail to give us pain.. Kindly provide way to make our son come to normal behaviour.. sometime we slap him so hard as told by doctor but of no use.

Hi MBeth Please tell us how to stop him hitting to us..We will so embarrased in front of whole world Regards Renu

MBeth- I've been researching this subject since my 2 1/2 year old daughter has been hitting and biting her 1 year old brother. I am very interested in hearing more of your advice. I am at my wits end, honestly. I've been doing the "time outs", but I believe she thinks it's a game, she even laughs when I put her there. She says "I'm sorry" to her brother per my request, but does it again and continues throughout the day. I just need good, helpful advice and it sounds like you may have the answers I'm searching for. I don't normally post on sights so I'm not sure how this works, just need serious HELP! Thanks!

We have worries about our two year old daughter. She is not speaking clear words. She gets frustrated when she can not say what she wants. She is in a bilingual family. I am American and her mother is Japanese. My wife speaks Japanese to her all day and I speak english in the evening. Should we seek professional assistance or be patient? v/r Ivaparents.

I think this is pretty common w/ children in bilingual homes. Did your daughter just turn 2? At this age, you can't expect kids to pronounce words perfectly. However, if your daughter's only saying a few words, or she seems to have a problem understanding things, then I'd voice my concern to her dr. Down the road, if you don't see any improvements, you can always get a speech eval. You might also want to get your daughter's ears ck'd to make sure there's no problem w/ her hearing. I wldn't worry too much, though. Most likely the issue is w/ the different languages spoken at home. This can be confusing your daughter, and therefore it may be slowing down her speech development.

But do continue to have both parents speak their native language. I grew up not far from a reservation. The children who spoke Navajo at home spoke better English than the children whose parents spoke broken English in front of the children. These parents who wanted their children to learn English did their best, some of them stopped speaking Navajo when their kids were very small, which meant that their children learned that "movie Indian" staccato style of speech.

A child would have no idea what hitting is at 2 unless he was hit