Toddlers who hit
Almost every child, at some stage, gets into a fight and pushes or hits a playmate. Knowing how common this behaviour is doesn’t make it any easier when it’s your child who hurts someone. As a parent you feel awful. It can help to look at why children fight and have some consistent strategies to stop it from happening again.
Why does my child hit or fight?
Children may hit others if they don’t know better ways of problem-solving or communicating their needs.
Hurting others may be a way for your child to get what they want from another child, like the toy they are playing with. Children may also learn to fight by watching others, both friends and arguing parents.
To stop the hitting
If the strategy of hurting another child works, and your child gets what he wants this way, that behaviour is more likely to continue. Children need to learn acceptable, non-hurtful ways of getting along with others and solving problems.
- Play more. To learn how to play co-operatively, your child needs to play with friends. Be around, give your toddler praise when they are playing well, sharing or co-operating.
- Talk a lot. Decide on a couple of simple rules for your child about playing with others. Talk about these rules together. Tell your child what behaviour you want to see, for example – share and take turns, be gentle, keep your hands and feet to yourself.
- Choose activities. You may need to set up activities that foster sharing, turn-taking and co-operation, like ball games and board games. Start by playing these games with your child yourself.
- Help solving skills. Step in and help your child solve a problem before a fight occurs. Even older children sometimes have difficulty finding the right words. You can help by suggesting words: “Julia says: “You have had a turn, now it’s my go”. When teaching problem-solving to preschoolers, ask them what the problem is, what each child wants and what they can all do to compromise.
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