The Mom With the Mean Kid

Lucas has been hitting kids. I don’t know why or what causes it, but he has been doing it for the past couple weeks. He will be playing fine and then all of a sudden, out of no where and without warning, he slaps a kid or pulls their hair. Sometimes I feel like I can’t (or don’t want to) take him out anywhere because I don’t want him being mean to kids.

Why is he doing this?

I hate it and the worst part is, I don’t know what’s causing it or how to discipline him when he does it. I do time outs at home, but those don’t work very well. I usually tell him that hitting is mean, we don’t hit, hitting made her sad, etc. etc.

This is probably just a stage, and I’m sure it’ll pass within time, but it is not okay. It’s funny, because he rarely hits Joshua anymore. He is generally very sweet with him.  He is a good kid- he does things sometimes that just blow me away with his sweetness. But at the day care (gym) or at a friends house or when we have friends over- he will hit a poor innocent child.

{See. Look at him! He is not a mean child! He is so loving and sweet and gives me 15 million kisses a day and bring his brother blankets all the time! Plus he looks like he’s about 16 in this picture. He is never allowed to move out of my house, ever. Unless he starts smelling and doesn’t do his own laundry. I remember my brother’s football jersey used to smell so nasty, I don’t know how my mom ever did his laundry. Haha. } 

I don’t know if people are going to come back to our house and play after leaving here!

It makes me very frustrated and upset. I can’t catch him before he does it, as there is generally no reason or routine to when or why he hits. I understand that he gets frustrated sometimes and can’t use his words or emotions properly so he will hit, but I want to figure out what is causing this so I can prevent it from happening again.

Most importantly, I want to figure out how and what the best way to discipline him is.

Do I have the meanest kid ever or is this normal for a child this age? I don’t even care if it is normal- I don’t want it to happen. I just get so sad that my sweet boy is being the mean one. 

{Oh, and I just ordered Love and Logic through Amazon so I’m hoping that book will help us!}

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

16 thoughts on “The Mom With the Mean Kid

  1. I've been there – with my otherwise SWEET daughter, and it's startling, embarrassing, and probably pretty normal for this age. What has worked best for us (both mommy and daddy have to be on-board regardless of what you decide to do) is Love and Logic for the Early Years. The book is about $12 and well worth it – we've read it a few times. And there are Love and Logic facilitators throughout the country who teach classes. You're not alone. Hope that helps.

  2. We used love and logic with our kids too. It is SO nice to have a consistent tool to use when dealing with hitting and lots of other things! A suggestions while you wait for your book to arrive. Give him an outlet for his emotions – a pillow to hit, something to jump on….show him whatever it is you come up with for him to release his energy when he's NOT upset and if you are able to catch him before the act, remind him where/what it's OK to hit.

    Our experience has been when a child starts acting out it's a clue that they haven't gotten enough one on one time with a parent. If we are good about giving them individual attention the negative attention seeking behavior is curbed.

    Like you said, this too shall pass! You are a good mom for taking action! I know that when I'm out and about and a child acts out towards my kid as long as the mom is right there to remove the child from the situation I don't hold it against the child/parent. It's when the parent ignores the bad behavior that I get upset.

    Here's an old link – yikes it's been THREE YEARS since I read the book – but it's a post I wrote about what I learned from Love and Logic:

  3. A book I think you'd love in general (just because you have boys), but that I also think would be helpful (in a conceptual sort of way, since it's not about toddler discipline in particular) is “Why Gender Matters” by Leonard Sax. I can't say enough good things about it. Your husband would probably enjoy it also, as it addresses a lot of issues having to do with the classroom and boys' vs. girls' needs.
    Example of something “practical” I learned from it: don't tell a boy not to do something because they might get hurt. The part of their brain that should tell them getting hurt is definitely a negative thing doesn't fully develop 'til mid-twenties. Makes SO many things make so much more sense, huh? =)

  4. When my daugther, 21 months, hits we immediately tell her, “No hit.” And tell her to give a “Nice touch” to whomever it was that she hit. So if she comes up to me and hits me I immediately say, “Lexi, no hit. Give Momma a nice touch.” Usually she will, but often I have to take her hand and place it softly on me to demenstrate a nice touch.
    It has worked really well for us! She has also been going through screaming fits. So when she screams we tell her, “Lexi, no scream. Talk softly.” (While we say that softely).
    This also works when she throws things. We immediately tell her, “Lexi, no throw.” And then we make her go to the item that she threw and pick it up and sit it down nicely. If she will not do that on her own, we take her to the item and make her pick it up and sit in down nicely.

  5. I have read that many people have had success with showing attention immediately to the victim and not the hitter. This only makes sense (to me) if the the victim is a sibling or a close friend's child who knows what you are trying to do. It wouldn't really work to say, swoop in and pick up a child you barely know at the park and ask them them if they are ok while ignoring your sweet but hitting Lucas. Know what I mean?

    Otherwise, immediate respinse and constant communication with any caregiver/daycare/etc to let them know you are working on this and struggling with this at home. They will be much more understanding if you warn them in advance and that you know it is an issue and are working towards a solution.

  6. Everyone is right! He's a boy, he's young, its developmentally appropriate for him to have poor impulse control. What I would personally do is try to prevent situations in which he might get frustrated and hit. We used to stop Jaina in the middle of trying to hit someone and then praise her for NOT hitting, if that makes sense?

  7. Its definately normal toddler behaviour.
    At our playgoup I noticed it was more then boys who did it. They started with pushing and now that they are older they are pinching!
    Having said that my daughter is 2 and 3 months and has started to push other kids when she thinks they are going to take a toy off her which is a bit embarressing.
    I spoke with her preschool teacher (she starts next week) and she said they all do it and to just say no, please don't hurt you're friend and they have to apologise.

    Triggers can be anything from tiredness to just having a bad day!
    It will pass, hope this helps.

  8. Do you use sign language? My son is a bit younger than your Lucas, he's only 16 months, but he has occasionally hit us or other kids & we've been able to curb it by teaching him the signs for hurt, stop, and sorry. If he hits, my dialogue goes like this: “Stop. (with sign) No hitting. It hurts (sign) Mommy. We do not hit. Can you say sorry? (sorry is a hug)” Generally if he does it once, this will keep him from doing it again. I've noticed that he hits when he wants something but doesn't have a word/sign for it. He also pushes (like to knock down or out of the way) when he's playing with his friends & I do the same thing.

  9. I have never been to your blog before, in fact I literally just clicked over while browsing comments on money saving mom, but I saw this post immediately and just had to comment! I went through my oldest (who is almost 3) when he has about 18months. There was one mom I frequently hung out since our sons were right around the same age and we were both at the time pregnant with our girls. It seemed so perfect, until my son started hitting her's. It was seriously one of the worst things I had ever experienced. After a long conversation my friend and I decided it was best to separate the boys for a while. We did lots of research together, and what I found worked best for me was the book “The Happiest Toddler On The Block”. After a few months of using tips from that book and lots and lots of mommy's love I am happy to report that the boys are once again playing happily together. I really do think it had a lot to do with me kind of “getting inside his brain” and trying to prevent his misbehavior before it happens, and also staying extremely calm after it happens! Good luck, I know how stressful it can be mama! 🙂

  10. I'm sorry to say, but you are right, no one will bring their kids over to play anymore. My nephew did the same thing, hit all his cousins! Finally me and my SIL kept our kids away from him because it happened every time. We (meaning me and my SIL) discipline our children totally different than my other SIL who has the hitting child which is much like the style you are talking about and our kids never hit other kids. Mom was too busy and tried to use 'logic' to reason with him for every thing he did wrong. Dad pretty much didn't lay down the law either. This child is now 5 years old and having trouble in school because they have continued to discipline their child the same way and now he is getting ready to get kicked out because he doesn't mind (part of the 'discipline' problem' and hitting other kids. Disciplining *properly* is not easy, but you must set the ground rules at a young age or it will just progress like it has with my nephew.

  11. Wow Negative Nancy above…of course people are still going to bring their kids over to play with your sweet boy! Just remember all of the other “phases” you were hoping didn't stick and soon passed. He will soon learn that hitting doesn't make friends and the fact you are concerned/jumping on this early will only make it pass sooner! Don't stress too much – your boys are adorable and lucky to have you care so much!! They will turn out great!

  12. I would agree with reading “love and logic” We use that and it seems to really make a difference. Also the one-on-one time is really critical. When my daughter is acting out violently I know that she needs some more mommmy or daddy time and that seems to really make the bad behavior drop off. It is a hard balancing act with 2 little ones. I'm right there with you right now.

  13. I hope you review Love and Logic. I'm going through the same thing right now with my son, he just turned two and is also hitting. It sounds just like what Lucas is doing. It's SO frustrating. I don't want to be mean, but I don't want to raise the kid that is a bully. It's a fine line.

  14. Lucas is the cutest thing in the world!!! Seriously, adorable. I bet it is just a stage that he will grow out of! I LOVE your blog….I am about to go through all of your old posts because it is my lunch break:) Have an amazing day!

  15. I had a similar experience. I took my kids to a birthday party (none of the people were familiar to my kids). There was LOTS of people there (adults and kids). At first, they played so well, handed toys over to other kids, took turns, I was impressed.
    But, when I wasn't looking… My 2 year old boy got down in the floor to play with the 8 month old crawling baby… all of a sudden the baby started screaming… When his mother picked him up he had a huge bite mark on his back. SHE FLIPPED OUT! I didn't know what to do?? I told my son “No, that is not nice, we don't bite little babies, you hurt him, tell him you are sorry.” We showed him the mark he had made on the baby.
    What really broke my heart is the fact that my child's feelings were hurt by the other parent's reaction. When I got to him he was hiding in a corner crying for me. He knew he had done something wrong and it scared him! Anyway, the whole time I was telling him that what he did was bad, I held on to him. I let him know that even though what he did wasn't right, Mommie was still there to protect him (kinda like I didn't like the behavior, but I loved my boy).
    I felt like a failure though.. What kind of Mom has kids that do such things? I blamed myself for being divorced, not spending enough time with him, etc.. Now I am less critical of situations like that, it happens.
    *After the biting incident, the other mom handed out popsicles to all of the kids, EXCEPT my 2! Needless to say, we have NEVER been back there anyway.
    **My son has never bitten another child again, BUT, he and his sister continuously bite each other! I have no idea how to stop it. I.Have.Tried.EVERYTHING!

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