But while it might be common, does not mean that it is okay. At this age, toddlers are very self-centred and only have a limited perception of others’ emotions and pain. Your toddler may be hitting others out of frustration, anger or just a lack of words.
The Cuddlers team have come up with a few strategies to help you make sure your child learns social etiquette and acceptable behaviour.
Prevention is the best cure
The best thing you can do is try and anticipate problems and prevent them if possible:
- Be physically close when your child is playing with other children and act quickly if they are about to hurt someone
- Encourage sought-after behaviour. When you see your child playing well (even if this is by themselves), give them attention and praise
- Help your child find the words to express their feelings. For example: “Lerato, say ‘John, it’s my turn now’”. Remember to praise your child, this time for expressing themselves
- Firmly tell your child how and how not act: “Mpho, stop hitting Prince. Ask him nicely for the blocks”
- If your child is hurting another child, show them how to be gentle (for example, show them how to stroke hair instead of pulling it). Get your child to practise being gentle for a few seconds.