When toddlers hit

Learn about: When toddlers hit from Barbara Olinger, MSW,...
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When toddlers hit

Toddlers are basically ruled by their physical impulses. That can lead to a lot of hitting and pushing. This is normal. We often have to set a limit with the behavior, but it's important to look at the motivation. If the child is hitting or pushing and doesn't seem upset, it might be that they are doing it to get a social connection. In that way, step in and say, "Hitting can hurt, but I'm wondering if you wanted to say 'Hi.'" You can say, "hi" and wave without hitting. We practice this. We model this for them. If the child is feeling angry and frustrated and hits or kicks, we might have to do something else. We have to set the limit, but we can also gently move them over and let them hit the pillow, stomp the ground, or tear up newspapers. We don't expect toddlers to stop their impulses, but we want to teach them safe ways to express them. Remember the learning curve with toddlers is very long and they need a lot of practice.

Learn about: When toddlers hit from Barbara Olinger, MSW,...


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Barbara Olinger, MSW

Parenting Consultant

Barbara Olinger has her master's degree in social work and has been working with children and families in both therapeutic and educational settings for over 30 years. She is currently Director of Family Development at the YWCA Santa Monica/Westside and has a private practice focusing on parenting education and teacher training.  She is the author of the parenting book, Growing From the Roots: A Practical Guide to the Art of Parenting, now on DVD along with Welcoming Your Second Child. She has two sons, ages 23 and 20 years old.  

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