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Posted by Dr. Monica Wonnacott | May 20, 2016

What To Do About A Child Who Hits

Thanks for your question, Randie.

Today’s Facebook page question is, “Why does my child hit?”

Having a child who has decided to start hitting can be frustrating for a parent. Why are they doing that? What can I do about it?

Most kids go through a hitting phase, or at least try it once. It typically happens in the young toddler/early childhood stage (15-30 months). It is really common. Kids hit for a variety of reasons.

Why do kids hit?

  1. Because they can
  2. To see what sort of response they will get
  3. Due to emotion (frustration, anger, etc.)
  4. Because they have been hit (and they do what they know).

How to respond when a kid hits

The proper response when hitting occurs is key. Grab the child’s hand when they are swinging (either at you, sibling, or other) and respond “no hitting.” The way you deliver the message is super important. Look the child in the eye. Get at his/her eye level (e.g., if the child is standing, crouch down to the same level). Make your tone of voice low and loud (not yelling, but slightly louder than normal to get their attention). Keep a serious face (one of the worst things to do is smile and laugh). Then put the child in time out. Don’t give warnings before putting a child who is hitting in time out. Just go straight to time out. The child needs to learn that you mean business.

Great question, Randie. Thanks!