by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
"Smack!" With your mouth wide open, you ask "Did my toddler just hit me?" As strangers and friends look on, you struggle to get the situation under control. Feeling the sting of the hand from none other than your own precious little toddler can be hard. It's even more difficult when you're in public. I've dealt with this situation both as an onlooker, as well as from a personal standpoint.
Act immediately. The most important thing you can do with a behavior like this is regain control as soon as possible. As soon as your toddler hits you, there needs to be an action from you. This could vary, depending on your child, the severity of the incident, and your parenting methods. Whether you put your child in timeout, leave the location, or something else entirely, it needs to be done right away. Let your toddler know you mean business.
Toddlers like pushing buttons. This is how they learn how to interact with people. Remember that while very smart, this is a stage where kids are trying to understand which behaviors are acceptable. They will be very persistent and will also test you to see what they can get away with. Some may do it more in public because they feel you are more vulnerable to quickly placating them. Whatever you let them do is what they will believe to be correct. If smacking you gets a giggle or a request, this behavior will be repeated. I once had a friend who unintentionally taught her toddler to hit her on the leg every time he wanted her attention. If she didn't comply, he kept at it until she gave in. She would joke about how cute it was. It wasn't cute anymore when he attempted the same trick with a teacher.
Toddlers repeat what they see. If you use spanking as discipline in your home, your toddler could be repeating the behavior. They also could be repeating what a friend or sibling does. Perhaps she saw hitting on TV. Just because your toddler is hitting you, it doesn't mean she hates you. She may simply be repeating an action she saw elsewhere. If you don't want your toddler to hit you or anyone else, do your best not to let her be around that behavior.
Everyone will know best. If your toddler hits you in public, be prepared for advice from all sides. Any and every one will have their thoughts on the matter. It's a natural instinct, especially for fellow parents, to speak up on such matters. Some thoughts may be lighthearted. But other words may sting. For your toddler's sake, keep cool. If you see things are headed in the wrong direction, it's best to leave the scene. The worst thing you can do when your toddler is hitting is to cause other negative behaviors, such as arguing.
Emphasize the pain. Even if it doesn't hurt much when your toddler hits you, he needs to know that it can. Now this does not mean you should hit him back. That's not a very positive thing to do and if you're in public (or even in private) it could land you discipline time, instead of your toddler. There are other ways to model feelings. Make sad faces and also ask your toddler what it feels like when he gets hit by someone. Make it clear that hitting gets the bad attention, not the good attention. Compare hitting to hugs and ask your toddler which one he likes better. Answer with a "me too" when he chooses hugs. Then, give him a big hug and tell him you hope he gives you lots more of those every day.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
No one is a perfect parent, not even me, as a parenting expert. There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to raising kids. However, there are certain parenting mishaps we just shouldn't do or let our toddlers see. As a veteran parent and former nanny, I've had plenty of experience with toddlers who hit. It's not always something the parent is doing. But there are at least 5 parenting no-nos that could teach toddlers to use violence to get their way. Are you unintentionally participating in these parenting no-nos that may encourage hitting in toddlers?
Fighting in front of toddlers is a big parenting no-no. Arguing in front of your toddler can cause him stress, frustration, anger, and other issues. When this fighting is physical, it is even worse. Domestic violence is never appropriate. But it's especially inappropriate in front of a toddler. By hitting each other in front of watchful little eyes, you are encouraging hitting in your toddler. Counseling, separation, or even jail time for the offending party may be the best option for a couple that takes this route. Seek authorities and a professional's guidance right away if there is any physical violence in your home.
Being physical in anger can encourage hitting, even if you are not directly hitting anyone. Slamming items down, throwing things, or hitting things when frustrated teaches your toddler to be physical when upset. While you may not be hitting a person, you are still acting out your anger in a negative physical manner. Parenting behaviors like this encourage hitting in toddlers. If you feel like you need to do something physical to express the anger, try jogging, yoga, playing basketball, or another form of exercise.
Treating animals poorly can encourage hitting in toddlers. As the parent, you are supposed to be a positive example. Animals are living beings, just like you and I. Mistreating animals not only teaches your toddler to do the same. But it also teaches him to use violence when annoyed with something. Children, especially toddlers, follow the lead of their parents. They learn by observance. Even when you think they are not watching, they are. If you can't have a pet in your home without hitting and other negative treatment, please find a new, more loving, home for the animal. This will be good for your toddler, as well as the pet
Laughing at violence is never good. Certain television programs and movies may make a mockery of violent acts. While older children may possibly understand the difference between movies and real life, a toddler may not. The same is true for video games that encourage hitting and other violence as a way to get ahead in the game. Then, of course there is reality. Never, ever laugh about violent acts in your toddler's presence. While it may not be intentional, by doing this, you are encouraging hitting and other forms of violence. In a toddler's eyes, laughing may mean that the violence is OK.
Spanking can also encourage hitting. Yes, I know I am going to upset some people by saying this. I respect that not everyone has the same disciplinary methods. But in my experience, toddlers whose parents used spanking for discipline hit far more than those whose parents used other methods. If you think about it for a moment, it makes sense. Spanking is the act of hitting someone for an undesired behavior. In a toddler's eyes, this may send the message that when they don't like a behavior in another person, they should hit that person. There are more positive forms of discipline than spanking that still teach your toddler effectively.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans network. She is your brand healing, soul healing, marketing & content superhero to the rescue! Running a network of websites, tackling deadlines single-handedly, and coaching fellow writers, brands, & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is her top priority.
While rescuing civilians from boring content and brands, this awesomely crazy family conquers the world, managing Intent-sive Nature while going on Upstream Parenting adventures & lessons, sometimes in an RV. They strive to cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they settle for rescue dogs and cats.
By supporting us, you support a single parent, healer, and minority small business that donates to and/or stands for several causes, including homeless pets, homeless people, trans youth, equality, helping starving artists, and more! A portion of all proceeds from our all-inclusive store, Intent-sive Nature goes toward worthy causes.
For guidance in the world of freelance writing or for advice on her specialty topics, Ask Lyn.