Ages One to Three

Physical Aggression in Babies and Toddlers

QUESTION:

My baby keeps hitting other kids! I’m so embarrassed at his behavior. Is there any way to get him to stop?

Answer:

First, this is very, very normal and age appropriate. Please don’t chalk it up to some negative thing about your son. He’s frustrated and doesn’t have the vocabulary to tell you why, or the autonomy to fix it for himself. Some children are more intense than others.

Second, you want to set healthy boundaries and teach what to do.

By not taking it personally and not striking back, you can direct a child to being able to properly express themselves. Hitting can be for pillows and boppy clowns and beds, but not people. Hitting isn’t bad, and children who hit aren’t bad. There are times it’s appropriate and times it isn’t. Having physically aggressive boys (girls too, but it’s usually boys) is a challenge, especially if the parents tend more towards pacifism and equate aggression with negative qualities.

The boundary you want to set very clearly is that hitting is not for people. Hit the pillow, not the person. Tell your child, “I will set you down if you continue to hurt me. Please use gentle hands with my body.”

Also, if he’s really upset and being aggressive you can hold him in the Bear Hug and gently speak in his ear so that he hears you calming him down and assuring him you will set him down as soon as he is able to stop himself from hitting.

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