Hitting: How can you stop your toddler from hitting?

My 17-month-old son hits the other children at his day care He sometimes does this out of excitement, which is understandable, but not a very socially acceptable way of expressing himself. He also hits out of anger and when he is not getting his way. I am not sure how to handle this. How can I encourage my son to stop hitting?


It is hard to stop a 17 month old from hitting. He is not old enough to understand time out yet. That usually won't happen until he is three years old.

The best thing to do if your child hits, is to immediately remove him from any situation he is in, while saying the words, "We don't hit." If he's in a sandbox, he comes out. If he's at the snack table in school, he is moved immediately.

Sometimes hitting behavior is connected to a child's frustration with being unable to express himself in words. As your son becomes more verbal, this behavior may very likely wane. Meanwhile, it's important to continue to give him the message that hitting is unacceptable. And, see if you can get him to tell you what is bothering him with whatever words he has. Eventually, he will get the idea that we talk about what is bothering us, rather than hit.

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