Tuesday 12 November 2019

Dear David Coleman: My two-year-old has started hitting us, how do I get him to stop?

Photo posed
Photo posed

Q My two-year-old son has recently started hitting and pinching us. It is very out of character for him, as he was really easy-going until he started back in the crèche in September. I tell him to stop, that it makes mammy sad, but he pays no attention to me and is just as likely to hit out again later. Any advice?

A Often when children's behaviour changes it can help to work out if any other significant changes have happened at the same time, as it can sometimes help to explain why their behaviour shifts too. So, perhaps there is something different about crèche now? Maybe new carers? Being in a different room? New children in the room with him?

Irrespective of the reason why he has started to hit, though, the key to stopping the hitting is to be able to back up your verbal direction to him to stop, with some physical action. So, as well as saying "Stop, no hitting!", you need to be able to hold his hands gently, or move him away from you so that he can't actually strike you. He needs to get the two-pronged message that you don't accept his hitting and that you will prevent it from happening. Consistency with this approach at home (and if necessary, in the crèche) should help him to stop.

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