Children tend to hit when they are younger. It could be that they’ve seen you do it, even just a slight tap for fun, or it may be their only way to letting you know that they’re frustrated. They don’t mean to hurt and aren’t doing it maliciously most of the time but it’s important to get them out of the habit. This means teaching them different ways to show their frustration and affection.
You need to start this as soon as possible. Don’t let them continue to hit, believing that they will grow out of it. The chances are that this will not happen. You need to let them know, even as babies, that hitting isn’t something they should do.
Teach Them Alternatives
Instead of hitting, teach them how to stroke or pat. This is especially the case with pets and other children. They won’t realise that there is a difference unless you teach them how to do it. Get down on their level, grab their hands and teach them how to stroke or pat gently. Eventually, they will realise that that is how they are supposed to act.
Be More Affectionate to Them
The hitting may come from you, so you need to be more warm and affectionate with them. Spend some time at their level, playing with them. The more love you show, the less frustrated and angry they will become. They’ll also learn other ways of interacting with you and others, so hitting isn’t the way to get your attention.
Help Them Develop Words and Understanding
Babies don’t understand that hitting isn’t the answer. If you let it continue, children believe that that is the only way to do it. You need to help them understand more about their actions and help develop their words. When they are angry, you need to help them understand that feeling and find another way of releasing it. The same applies when they need something, want a cuddle or are just happy to be around you.
Listen to Them
Hitting out of frustration is often because they can’t talk to you. While some children feel like they can’t, it can be partially the parents fault for not listening. You need to show that you are there for your children to talk to you. Have some one-on-one time on a night to talk about the events during the day and how they made their children feel. The more they feel like they can open up and you’ll listen to them, the more they are going to want to talk to you.
Be There to Keep Them Safe
Children want to feel safe and if they don’t, it will affect their actions. Be there and make it clear that you are there for their safety. It could mean using a band-aid on their boo-boo, but it could be just to reassure them that nothing is going to happen. Children get hurt, they make mistakes and they have nightmares. That’s part of being a child but you can make it much easier.