Hitting a friend when you don't get your way isn't uncommon at this age. But that doesn't mean it's right. It can help you as a parent to have some strategies to stop it happening again.
But younger children may hurt others without realising what they are doing - they just want to get the toy or their own way. At this age, toddlers are very self-centred and only have a limited perception of others’ emotions and pain. Your toddler may also hit others out of frustration, anger or just a lack of words.
Prevention is the best cure
The best thing you can do is try and anticipate problems and prevent them if possible:
• Be physically close when your child is playing with other children and act quickly if they are about to hurt someone.
• Aim to encourage sought-after behaviour. When you see your child playing well (even if this is by themselves), give them lots of attention and praise.
• Give them some words that they can use: “David, say ‘John, it’s my turn now’”. Remember to praise your child, this time for nicely saying what they want.
• Firmly tell them how to act and how not to act: “Lucy, stop hitting Peter. Ask him nicely for the blocks”.
• If your child is hurting another child, show them how to be gentle (for example show them how to stroke hair instead of pulling it). Get your child to practise being gentle for a few seconds.
Any other suggestions? Share them here!