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Why is my 15 Month Old Hitting Me?

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Okay okay okay trouble is brewing at home. Kitty is now 1.3 years old, and he’s an energetic young man -the true energizer bunny. Kitty is swift, sly and very calculating –skills that I don’t know where he got them from.

Now, Kitty likes getting his hands on just about everything. And I spend most of my days at home telling him: “no, no, no, no, no, x 300.” Geez! Problem is, when I restrict him from doing something he wants to do (such as trying to climb the window grills, reaching out for anything electrical, trying to remove the keys from my computer’s keyboard, or yanking off the dressing table knobs), he gets really upset. But that’s not the problem. Problem is when I tell him no, he comes right to where I am and smacks me in the face. Ala! Whatisssssss? Isn’t that a reversed role? Who is supposed to be smacking who?

First time it happened I was so shocked my mouth was left wide open and my jaw literally dropped to the ground as I rubbed my check, trying to ease the burning sensation from that smack.

Nowadays when he tries to hit me, I grab his hand mid-air and tell him not to, asking him to instead gently rub my cheeks. But from the look I get on his face when I do so, clearly he feels shortchanged. Sometimes though he is so quick he catches my reflexes down and he smacks me paaaahhh!! and the look of victory on his face tells alot.

Anytime I try to tell him ‘mummy will chapa toto’, he looks at me and giggles. And when I chapa him (using my finger to tap at his hand), he begins laughing. I’m never sure whether he is laughing at me or whether that tapping him is ticklish. But he laughs anyway.

And by the way it appears he only does this with me because when his father cautions him against doing something –baaaaaaass, he drops it right there and then and becomes a mellow sweet little boy and sits down nicely. I have never seen him try to hit his father. Surely is Kitty playing with my psychology? How old is he again?

Now I’m wondering what to do. I mean really, is a child supposed to hit or pinch its mother when she’s trying to discipline him?  I have tried speaking firmly, looking into his eyes and slowly explaining to him that what he is doing is not right. But nothing doing.

So those who’ve been there, please advise because I’m running out of solutions. Right now, what I’m thinking of is getting a muiko and keeping it next to me so that I can use it when need be.

Mama Ajani and Mama Zoe, and are you with me or I’m on my own?

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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.

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  1. Believe it or not mama Kitty this is normal with 1- 2yr olds. He is basically having a tantrum when he hits you. He is also frustrated coz he cannot yet communicate with words effectively. Do not allow him to hit you or do what he is not supposed to. Try time-outs. Find somewhere he can sit for minute quietly. The length of time-out goes with age. 1 minute for every year. For example, 2 yr old for example would get 2 minutes. Avoid the crib as that would bring issues at nap or bed time. Maybe put a mat or chair at a corner. Get down to his eye level and explain to him why he is in time out and when time out is over give a hug and repeat to him what it is he should not do again. He will try escaping the first few times just put him back and avoid alot of talking or contact or he’ll think its a game. The key is to be consistent! Also choose your battles. Sometimes kids do things for attention once you recognize that distract him from the negative behavior. Also, vary your words instead of “no” all the time try “stop” or “handsoff” or “that’s not allowed”, etc.

  2. @Mama Azizi thanks for the tips. Now as you’ve clearly stated, I can already see him escaping from that time out and me running after him to put him back and he thinking it’s a game. *sigh*. I’ll sure try it out though and keep you posted.
    And yes I’ve noticed that sometimes when he’s going about his normal business of walking around the house, he just keeps chanting ‘no no no no no no’ 🙁 so maybe he thinks no is something nice?

  3. What a coincidence that you wrote about hitting with toddlers…my daughter is 21 months now and she does hit me and her elder sister (4year old) at times..

    I came across this article somewhere and thought it might shed some light on this topic…

    QUESTION: My 2-year-old hits me and tells me to “go away” when he’s angry. How can I get him to stop?

    Penelope Leach
    child psychologist

    Children have the right to use their bodies to express their feelings, but they don’t have the right to hurt someone. Even if you generally let other kinds of toddler misbehavior slide, you need to draw the line at letting your child hit you in anger.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that when your toddler hurts you it’s okay to hurt him back. If your child hits you and you spank him or discipline him by force, you’ll only teach him that aggression is an acceptable way to express his feelings or get what he wants. Instead, take your toddler’s hands and say, “No hitting. I know you’re angry, but we don’t hit people. Hitting hurts.” If you can tell that your toddler is about to hit you, stop him beforehand and firmly tell him “no.”

    Some experts suggest that parents offer an angry child a harmless way to “vent” his pent-up fury, such as pummeling a special pillow. This, in my opinion, is a mistake. Anger is a feeling, and feelings don’t get “used up.” In fact, it’s clear from recent research that “harmless violence” is a contradiction in terms. A toddler who’s encouraged to wallop his pillow in anger is more ù not less ù likely to see walloping a person as an acceptable alternative.

    When your toddler behaves aggressively, make sure he understands that it’s not his anger you disapprove of but his violent expression of it. Don’t tell him not to get angry or not to show that he’s angry. Simply acknowledge his feeling ù and perhaps even sympathize with it ù but then remind him that it’s much more constructive to use his words to tell you why he’s upset. Help him practice expressing his anger verbally. Show him that once he can talk about his anger, the two of you can try to come up with a solution to whatever’s vexing him.

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