This is my advice to all the parents out there who encounter another child who hits (especially when the hitter is a toddler):
Protect your child, but try not to make too big of a deal.
Communicate with the other parent.
Do not scold or shun them. Do not judge or make false assumptions about their child or their parenting. Be kind. Have compassion. Work together. Lead by example.
As long as the other parent is there and trying their best, look out for each other. We all need help sometimes.
It is really hard being on either side of toddler mal-communication and their highly physical way of expressing emotions.
Just because your child doesn’t do this particular behaviour does not make you immune from ever experiencing it. Or ever experiencing your own challenges. One day you might be in my shoes, so why not learn from me rather than treat me like human garbage?
A toddler that hits is not a bully, but a parent that explodes or passive aggressively attacks that child and/or parent is. Toddlers are socially immature. They are learning how to act civilized, we are their teachers. It does not happen over night. Just because a two year old pushes, shouts or kicks does not mean they will always do so. Try to reserve labels for products, not persons.
It’s totally normal to be disturbed when your child gets hurt by another person. But remember that another toddler is not equal to a youth or adult, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
When my son was first pushed around by older kids, it really upset me- mainly if the other parent was completely absent. However, logically I know that this is rather normal behaviour for toddlers who are still developing the concept of ‘a separate mind’.
Mainly I was upset because I realized that like a cold or flu virus, once my son had been hit- he likely would go on to hit someone else. Monkey see- monkey do if you will. Other kids are powerful examples. But, much like a cold or flu, you can’t really fully expect to completely inoculate your child either- without completely avoiding other children forever. So my child ‘caught it’ and now he’s ‘spreading it’- until I can help make him better. You know, with the help of that ‘village’ they’re always saying it takes to raise a child.
It pains me when I see my child physically push someone else around, and we’re fully working on it.
I don’t completely accept the saying that ‘it is just a phase’ that I hear so often, thrown around as some kind of solace. That solace makes me feel helpless.
Instead, I believe this behaviour is a signal that my son is ready to learn about boundaries, emotions and social communication. But indeed like a phase, progress is not going to happen over night. (Hence why people *do* refer to it as a phase for solace, they mean well.)
I will not socially isolate my child, use corporeal punishment or verbally humiliate him for being at the level of development he is at.
I will set boundaries, speak to him at a level he understands, teach him to recognize and respect emotions and the rights of others, work on giving him positive coping skills and praise his good behaviour. I will lead by example. When a parent is upset I will communicate them and try to respect their feelings. I will help your child stick up for themselves and take their side. I do not need you to tell me to ‘get control over my child’ because that is just rude.
I so so appreciate parents who communicate with me, who respect me and draw on compassion first and foremost. It makes the whole thing SO much easier for everyone.
It’s very confusing trying to intervene correctly while also appeasing the many different expectations of parents and caregivers we encounter. From people who view it as completely natural childhood play that they can sort out themselves, to people who it triggers their own emotional wounds and react as though the sky is falling.
Seeing the way different people react in these situations truly astounds me- it is really insightful.
I want to thank everyone who has patience and leads by example out there. You guys give me hope on days when my view of humanity is at a low. So thanks.