At 20 odd months old, Lil Mochi is now picking up new tricks like a pro. Unfortunately, the ones that are most interesting to him are almost always the most inappropriate ones. Just because they will solicit attention from anyone.

His latest trick? Hitting.

Most of the time out of frustration, but some times just for the heck of it. He will say “hit” while doing it too. Needless to say, I am not happy about this new trick, so I have been thinking about how to counteract it.

DEFLECT THE ATTACK
The reflex reaction — gently holding his arm and saying “stop” in a firm, but calm, voice. If I cannot get a hold of his arm, then I will at least block the hits, with a plan to do something else about it really quickly.

REDIRECTION
This is probably the best way to go, in my book, especially when there is no clear reason for the attack. Switching to high-5s or to start singing and getting his hands clapping should do the trick. I will need to come up with more alternative actions so they do not get old.

SHOW HIM HURT
(I don’t mean hitting him back, if that’s where you’re going. See below.) Make a sad face and tell him that it hurts (and it does!) so that he will start to understand the effects of hitting. And show him how to console me, by saying “sorry” and giving me a hug or kisses. Of course he will get a hug and a kiss in return for soothing me. So, this should be a win-win.

BE STERN
This may only work some of the time. He does not seem to be intimidated by me, but I do not really need him to be. Looking serious and explaining that hitting is not acceptable is essential in getting him to understand the gravity of the offense. Although this may not seem to have much effect at first, he should start to understand the gist of it after repeated “lectures”.

ANTICIPATE THE ATTACK
Most of the time, I know when he is going to hit because I can tell when he will get frustrated. So, in preparation, I will show him ways to alleviate the frustration. There is an app I downloaded that has a short bit about a monster doing deep breathing after being frustrated because he was unable to put his shoes on. Another way is to tell him soothingly that I understand he is frustrated and let him cry to release the anger. It is unhealthy to hold it in anyways.

YELL AT HIM
(Ok, I am just being the devil’s advocate.) This will probably scare him a couple times. He may momentarily stop hitting, but this will not help change the behavior. If anything, he will probably add yelling to his repertoire. And I do not need that.

HITTING HIM BACK
(Devil’s advocate again.) Just don’t do it. There is no benefit with this action. Plus, DO NOT DO WHAT YOU DON’T WANT HIM TO DO.

REMOVE BEHAVIOR MODELS
I believe this is for the best, but sometimes is difficult to put into action. His caretaker, fellow toddlers and their caretakers he comes in contact with daily makes the biggest impression on him, just for the sheer amount of time he sees them. I know that there are behaviors in his caretaker of which I do not approve, but she is relatively better than other ones I have met. Possible solution would be to change caretaker, minimize his exposure to aggressive children (and their behaviors), or quitting my job and just take care of him full-time. All of these will need extensive consideration on feasibility.

I hope that this is just a phase he is going through and it will go away soon. One thing I learned from this is that I have to seriously begin some gentle discipline to guide him in the right path. The challenge of parenting is finally here.

The above list is just what I got off the top of my head. I am sure there are many more effective/interesting/traumatizing suggestions out there. (And I’d like to hear them.)

Share with me: Are you dealing with similar hitting or other aggressive behaviors? How are you handling them?

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Further Reading:

  1. Biting and Hitting: 16 Ways to Stop it | Ask Dr. Sear’s
  2. 5 Steps to stop your toddler from hitting | Mommy Shorts
  3. Toddler Hitting: 5 Strategies to Handle It | PhD in Parenting
  4. Toddlers and the Hitting Stage | Positive Discipline
  5. We | The Honest Toddler
  6. Toddler Tantrums… Ways to Deal | Toddler Approved