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When Toddlers Are Hitting: Behavior Modifying Educational Activities for a Toddler Who Hits

written by: Sylvia Cochran • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/17/2012

Temper tantrums are a part of life with little ones, but toddlers hitting and biting are displaying aggression which must be discouraged early and decisively. Read on about some educational activities for a toddler who hits or otherwise acts out in an aggressive manner.

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    Recognizing the Aggressive Toddler

    Although it may be obvious to other parents who observe young children playing games, the mother of a little toddler with an aggressive streak is usually the last one to admit to it. Fortunately, there are educational activities to discourage toddlers hitting, such as interactive games that help to lessen and eventually completely modify this behavior. Of course, prior to seeking out such educational activities for a toddler, aggressive toddler behavior must first be clearly defined.

    Generally speaking, toddlers hitting or biting are displaying signs of aggression. The same holds true for kicking and head butting. At the same time, these are also signs of extreme frustration from an as of yet largely non-verbal child. They can also be the symptoms of severe sleep deprivation. It is simplistic to assume that a little child with flailing limbs automatically falls under the umbrella of being an aggressive toddler.

    Before planning on integrating educational activities for a toddler who hits into everyday interactive play, one must honestly and thoroughly assess the child’s level of aggression and its triggers. One must also determine whether there is any parental responsibility for some of these actions. For example, a child who hits because of severe or continued sleep deprivation needs to be placed on a workable nap and sleep schedule, not be subjected to behavior modification.

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    Educational Activities for a Toddler Who Hits

    Keeping an aggressive toddler behind closed doors is not a long-term solution for dealing with the behavior. In the same vein, avoiding play dates and whisking away the little toddler from the areas of misconduct for a trip home only yields temporary results. Instead, there are some educational activities for a toddler that hits which promise a more long-term behavior modification.

    Remove the Child from Interactive Games

    As soon as the child acts out, remove the aggressive toddler from any interactive games where other children might get hurt. Verbalize a firm “no hitting” or “no kicking” (depending on the nature of the offense) and place the child away from the other children, but not completely out of sight. As educational activities for a toddler are concerned, this one teaches a clear cause and effect. Hitting is the cause; being removed from interactive play is the effect. “No hitting” is the verbal clue.

    Return the Little Toddler to Interactive Games after a Cooling Off Period

    When you are confident that the tantrum is over, and the child is calm, ask if s/he wants to rejoin the interactive games with the other kids. If the answer is affirmative, make eye contact and verbalize “no hitting!” Let the child rejoin the other kids.

    This and the prior educational activities for a toddler who hits may have to be repeated quite frequently for the cause and effect to sink in. Consistency and parental calm are the key elements in the behavior modification.

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    Caveat for Parents Implementing Educational Activities for Hitting

    Bright Hub’s own Rosy penned an article entitled “Behavior Therapy for Students with ADHD,” pointing out that consistency is a staple of behavior modification. The same holds true for children who do not suffer with ADHD. The parent and all those entrusted with the care of the child must be on the same page when it comes to consistently applying educational activities. For a toddler dealing with aggression, this is the surest way of nixing the behavior quickly.

    Moreover, inappropriate parental behaviors – such as screaming at the child, berating the little toddler, or physically shaking the child – are harmful, and will negate the efforts of behavior modification. Avoid these angry outbursts at all costs.

Aggressive Behavior in Preschool Children

Aggression in preschoolers is a common sight and usually continues on from toddlerhood. It is not always automatically outgrown but instead requires teachers and parents to offer hands-on assistance.
  1. When Toddlers Are Hitting: Behavior Modifying Educational Activities for a Toddler Who Hits
  2. Aggressive Behaviors in Preschoolers