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What to Do When Your Baby or Toddler Hits You

Laura Kuehn, LCSW
Written by Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Limited language, sleep deprivation, poor frustration tolerance . . . any of these can be an underlying factor for an act of aggression toward you by your little one. Slaps from babies and toddlers may be more reactionary than intentional, but don’t let that keep you from addressing it. Here are some tips on how to nip this behavior in the bud:

1) If you are holding the child during the incident (the most likely scenario), gently hold his hand and say, “No hitting.” If it happens again, repeat your statement and put him down.

2) Get to eye level and calmly say, “Hitting hurts. Please show me gentle hands.” As you say this second part, stroke him gently to demonstrate.

3) Have him show you gentle touch and then say, “Thank you! That touch feels very gentle.”

4) Do not simply say, “That’s not nice.” Words mean very little at this age, actions mean everything. Take it seriously (even if it didn’t hurt).

5) Don’t hit back to “show him what it feels like.” This will only muddy the waters and confuse the little one.

6) Repeat this process as often as necessary. For some children, this behavior may take some time to dissipate.

7 ) Point out gentle hands whenever you notice them. Kisses, hugs, gentle pats are the kinds of touches you want to encourage. Verbally label them as “gentle touches” when you see them happening so he knows what they are.

Image by Ratna Fitry from Pixabay
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed therapist who offers parent counseling services to families in Connecticut. She loves to equip and encourage parents of kids of all ages. CfP is the place she combines some of her favorite things: writing, parenting and God's word. She is happily married to a wonderfully supportive husband and is the mother of two delightfully inspiring teens.

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