The Parenting Clubhouse Podcast Episode 15: Why is My Child Hitting?!

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Hi there and welcome to The Parenting Clubhouse Podcast! I’m so happy you’ve joined!  

Recently, a parent asked me why her son is hitting others, including herself. I know this mama is not the only parent who is currently experiencing a child who is hitting. That’s why I’ve dedicated this episode to explain why a child may hit (and the reasons may surprise you!).

In today’s episode I will cover three main reasons for why your child may hit others. It’s gonna be a doozie. Let’s jump in, shall we?

The question “Why is my child hitting?” is a question that a lot of parents ask for obvious reasons:

  • They don’t want their child hitting or hurting other people or himself;
  • It’s simply not “good” to hit; and
  • Hitting is not an appropriate social behavior.

And many children, even starting in the toddler years, may go through a phase of hitting. Why? Because hitting “works” for that child.

I know that you hear me say that a lot: “X behaviors works for the child, that’s why they keep doing it.”

But what do I exactly mean when I say a behavior “works” for a child?

It’s easy. The child is hitting for a reason, most likely a “social” reason, meaning that the reason for the hitting somehow involves other people. For example, a child may hit in order to get a specific type of attention from an adult… this is social since it involves another person.  

But ultimately, your child probably continues to hit because when he does, he continues to get the same result he is looking for.

What are those results? Let’s jump in to the three main reasons for why a child may hit.

#1 To get attention 

Your child may hit because he likes the attention of being reprimanded or questioned or yelled at.  Remember, children LOVE attention. They want to get attention whether it's good attention (like praise statements, hugs, high-fives, or thumbs up) or negative attention (like questioning statements, threats, reprimands, or being yelled at). So, it is a possibility that your child may hit in order to get some sort of attention from you.

#2 To get out of a task

Your child may hit because he wants to get out of a task that he doesn't want to do, like picking up toys. It could be that every time your child hits when it's time to clean up toys, he gets sent to his room and DOESN'T have to pick up the toys.  In this situation, the hitting "worked" for your child. He didn't want to pick up the toys, he hit someone, he got sent to his room, and he didn't have to pick up the toys. The scenario ended the way he wanted it to.

#3 To maintain access to toys/things

Your child could also hit because another sibling or peer is playing with the toy that he likes or wants or the sibling or peer is trying to take his toy away from him. In this situation, your child may hit in order to prevent that sibling or peer from messing with his toys. For the same reason, your child could also hit you if you are restricting his toys. Ultimately, your child is hitting in order to maintain his toys so that his toys aren't restricted from him.

While I just outlined three major possibilities for why your child is hitting, there is another possibility: your child may be hitting for more than one reason, for a combination of reasons!

In one scenario your child may hit to get attention but in a different scenario your child may hit in order to block others from taking his toys.

Or, in one instance your child may hit to get out of a task that he doesn't want to do but in a different instance your child may hit in order to get attention. 

So realize that your child could be hitting for more than one reason.

Once we attempt to determine the reason for why our child is hitting, we can then do something about it.

As a refresher, your child may hit in order to:

  • Gain attention
  • Escape from a task that he doesn't like
  • Maintain access to his things, like toys

If your child hits, why do you think he's hitting?

My hope is that with this new knowledge you feel empowered in your parenting. If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe, leave a review, and share with your friends!

 If you found this information helpful, come check out The Parenting Clubhouse Podcast where I provide daily inspiration and insight all about parenting and your child’s behavior!


Let’s connect!

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On Instagram: @lauralynnlapointe

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