We try to do it all as parents. We try to raise good kids. Then, we try to keep a house clean, take our children to activities and appointments, make dinner, and more. We try so hard to keep it all together. We think we are rocking this whole parenthood thing until our child goes and hits someone. This makes us sink back and wonder, “Why is my toddler hitting?” Do not beat yourself up. It is not your fault. Instead, it is just another part of toddler life.
If you feel like parents are judging you in this, that is either just a feeling or those parents are trying to move past their insecurities. The fact is, the majority of toddlers go through this at some point in the toddler years, even if for a brief moment.
Why Do Toddlers Hit?
Toddlers are starting with no experiences and building their way up.
Toddlers have their own way of communicating and expressing their feelings. Now, they are learning to talk like us and nd express like us Yet, it is a learning process. Our communication skills do not come naturally with most children. They are not some built-in gene. That’s okay. At one point it was not natural with us either, and our parents worked with us on this.
There is a huge learning curve for children learning to handle their emotions
Toddlers are navigating a new journey where they are able to do things on their own now. They want to get to know the world in a whole new way. Sometimes, this can lead to a child communicating to us in a way we deem inappropriate simply because the child does not yet have the best way to explain their feelings. We end up reaching out to others asking, “Why is my toddler hitting?”
Even if a toddler can talk very well, it is important to remember that they may still struggle to appropriately express their emotions. You may have a toddler that is very advanced in verbal communication. However, sometimes they are put at a disadvantage because we forget to still treat them like their age. This means to have a huge amount of patience for them when it comes to this subject.
Why Is My Toddler Hitting?
This still brings us to the root question though. Why is my toddler hitting? Sometimes when we can identify the reason, we identify the solution at the same time. Other times it leads us to the solution a lot faster. Below are possible reasons that your child may be hitting. See if any may personally speak about your toddler to you.
Unable to Appropriately Express Emotions
Learning how to appropriately express emotions takes time. It also takes a lot of trial and error. A child who is excited can hit just as fast as a child who is frustrated. Learning how to express emotions is an important skill for toddlers to learn but it can be a difficult one for us grown-ups to teach.
One key thing to remember is that a child hitting does not always mean that they are unhappy. Kids may be happy and simply not know what to do with their hands.
Teaching a child to express emotions can be a huge challenge if we cannot control our emotions ourselves. My suggestion for this? Take one week and try to monitor your own emotions before you try to spend focus time and energy in teaching your child. You may actually surprise yourself with what your child models instead of picks up naturally.
Why is it so Hard to Teach?
It is harder for us to teach how to handle emotions because we are human. To us, we get lost in the “what on earth was that for” thoughts when it happens.It is easy to flip a switch and treat them like they are an adult instead of a child learning all of this. Sometimes, lose the opportunity to get on their level and help them identify their emotions.
This one is tough. Why? Because many times kids are hitting because they are following examples they have seen. Slow down here: I know what you are thinking. This doesn’t mean that they see hitting (or being hit) as a constant thing in their lives.
Toddlers often times can’t separate a game a tag that the big kids are playing at daycare from a high five (that we often time ask for). To them, it is all the same motion. Trying to get them to understand that those are not the same as hitting a friend (or adult) with their hand or a toy is very difficult. It takes time and patience to explain in their words why hitting is different than anything else.
This one is hard for me. It is important to remember that sometimes children that are acting out (even if not on purpose) are simply after the attention. Somewhere along the way, they do not get the attention they crave. So, hitting gets them that attention. Even if it is negative attention.
Testing the Waters
The toddler years are all about learning. Along with learning things like letters and colors and numbers, they are learning to navigate this journey that is life. They are learning what is acceptable behavior and what is not acceptable behavior. All of this learning takes time and patience. Time and patience are required from our end as much (or even more) than from their end.
Toddlers are smarter than we will ever think them to be. They will not only test this with their caregiver but, they will also test this with everyone else that crosses their path. They are constantly learning what is okay with one person may not be okay with another. All too soon, they know what they can get away with and with who they can get away with it. So, hang in there and be consistent with telling them that hitting isn’t an appropriate action.