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Here's what to do when your toddler starts biting or hitting you

Anger is an emotion all toddlers feel but don't know how to handle. These tips by a child psychologist will help you.

There will come a time when your child will discover they have a temper, and there are ways in which to express it. And most of the times it will be through hitting. Slapping or pinching is a very common toddler behaviour, and there's nothing wrong with it. Anger is just like any emotion that a toddler experiences, and you have to help them learn how to deal with it. Yes, it is very embarrassing and hurts a lot, but before you lose it out on your child, read these tips from Dr Shuchi Dalvi, child psychologist, on how you can help your child correct her behaviour and stop slapping and hitting.

  • Stay calm and controlled: Countering anger with anger will only escalate the whole behaviour. If you can't establish a good example for your child, you should not expect the same from them. When your child sees red, you need to stay calm and help them calm down too. Whether it is taking them elsewhere or distracting, do whatever it takes to help your child calm down.
  • Stop the behaviour: If your child is old enough to understand that hitting is wrong, but does it regardless, then here's what to do. When she hits, get down and look her in her eyes and say 'No. You are not supposed to hit me.' Say this in a firm yet gentle voice. Do not reprimand or scold. Just state the fact that hitting is wrong and definitely not tolerable.
  • Give them a way to vent: Now anger can be suppressed, but you need to help your child find a way to vent. In my case, I ask my daugter to count to ten and take deep breaths. You can also ask your child to punch a pillow to deal with the pent up anger. If joking and making light of the moment works, you can do that too.
  • Appreciate good behaviour: Reprimanding bad behaviour alone will not do, you need to acknowledge and appreciate your child's good behaviour too. Whenever your child does not lose her cool and conducts herself sensibly, appreciate her and commend.
  • Other things that you need to pay attention to is the behaviour of people your child interacts with. Is she learning this behaviour from someone? Do you have difficulty managing your own temper? These are somethings you need to be careful about.
  • Also, the chances of your child snapping back when you are trying to calm them. Being consistent and firm is what will help you drive the message home.

These tips can help nip this problem before it becomes a habit. However, if your child is dealing with serious anger issues, it is advisable that you consult a psychologist.

Read this in Hindi.

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