Young Child Has Started Hitting Parents and Pets?

My 22 month old has done a drastic personality change! The lovely little darling has been hitting us and our pets. And not just when he is angry. He beats on our cat and dog for just recreational fun and I've tried scolding and taking him away from the pet and he just keeps going back to hit more. He has also been hitting us when he is angry or when he gets overexcited during play. How do I change this. One day he hurt the cat so much that I gave him one swat on his little diapered butt and he thought it was so funny! Help!


Pattie from Bridgton, Maine

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December 13, 20070 found this helpful

call your pediatrician or family doctor, get help NOW before he really hurts someone or a pet!! do it a.s.a.p.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 519 Posts
December 13, 20070 found this helpful

I agree - you should get a full checkup, including consideration of neurological disorders. This will only get worse if you don't begin to treat/deal with it now.

By Sue (Guest Post)
December 13, 20070 found this helpful

ok take him to the doctors. If nothing is physically wrong he may be spoiled. Put him in a time out chair. Let him know its not cute and dont allow him to play with his favorite toys for a while after hes misbehaved.

December 13, 20070 found this helpful

The terrible 2's are approaching. Find a punishment that works for him and stick to it.

December 13, 20070 found this helpful

Most little ones will do this until they realize that they are hurting someone. I worked in child care for 8 years and this is pretty common. i doubt that you need to do more than get a regular checkup at the usual time.


Keep repeating don't do that it hurts. My little boy didn't get it until his sister punched him back and then the puppy bit him. Hitting hurts, but at his age it's fun..go figure.

By Melinda. (Guest Post)
December 13, 20070 found this helpful

Hi In Australia there has been a preservative that is put into bread that stops the growth of mould. It is called preservative 282 it causes mood swings and very bad behaviour such as you are describing there is a major push to get it out of bread and it is noted on the bread packets. 90 percent of companies do. Buy some from a bakery that doesn't use it and ask them. Or make your own. It is a preservative in most baked goods. i stopped using it and my son stopped having serve attacks of asthma and no more mood changes and jumping around the room. Much happier child. Hope this helps.

December 13, 20070 found this helpful

I really don't think there is anything to be concerned about. I have a 13 year old and a three year old. My three year old did the same thing with our cat and dog. He would put the cats tail so hard, the cat would turn around and bite him in the head (the cat didn't have claws) Noah would have terrable marks on his head all the time. Someone even said to me one time "you should get rid of that cat!" But I knew Noah would finally learn not to do it anymore. He used to laugh at me and my husband when we would try to scold him also. Your's too will grow out of this stage and go into another bad one.


Noah now feels sorry when he does something wrong. He cried so hard one day when he playfully pinched me (it hurt and I let him know it) As far as getting him checked neuologically, don't. My 13 year old has a serious emotional disablity. Bipolar, ODD, ADHD and OCD. Beleive me, you don't want a child like this. At age three he had problems emotionally (talked of hurting people for fun) He wasn't anything like Noah. Like night and day. But if this is something that keeps you awake at night then by all means go to your doctor but I have a feeling your doc will say it's just a stage.


Bronze Request Medal for All Time! 87 Requests
December 13, 20070 found this helpful

it is 1 thing he is hitting people. but your pets need your help and protection. people can defend themselves and scold the child.


the only scoding a cat or dog can do is bite or scratch. you would then blame the animal so protecvt them.


Bronze Request Medal for All Time! 59 Requests
December 13, 20070 found this helpful

What does his pediatrician say??

By coolgrammy (Guest Post)
December 14, 20070 found this helpful

Get help NOW. I know a little one who was a normal sweet little boy and exhibited the same symptoms. He was diagnoised with autism and is now in treatment and on meds. He was about the same age and changed completly in a matter of days. So don't may be nothing but why take chances that there is something wrong.

By judy (Guest Post)
December 14, 20070 found this helpful

PLEASE DO SOMETHING TO PROTECT THOSE PETS WHO CAN'T PROTECT THEMSELVES. You need to take your son to be evaluated by a neurologist or psychiatrist now.


It could be a serious medical condition that could be treated before it worsens.

By Cathy (Guest Post)
December 14, 20070 found this helpful

It wouldn't hurt to get the pediatrician to check him, just to rule out physical causes. That done, and he has been cleared by the doc, increase your discipline. At that age, kids can start a new "kick", and it could last a while, and then suddenly disappear as quickly as it appeared. The key is to continue to teach him that it is wrong to hit, to be consistent with discipline EVERY time he hits, and if worse comes to worse, show him what a hit feels like on his un-diapered bottom with the flat of your hand. You are not being mean to do this, and his tushie has it's own protection layer anyway, so the flat handed slap with only sting enough to show him what a hit feels like. I've seen the same type of "experiential therapy" help with other preschooler/toddler problems, such as biting.

December 14, 20070 found this helpful

I wanted to tell all of you that I called and talked to my grandson's doctor. She didn't feel there were any worries at this time. The baby was tested for various things such as autism at 15 months and everything was normal. I'm going to take the advice of Malinda and cut out the commercial breads and flours in favor of organic and also limit any sugar, which we are pretty good about right now.


But I'm still watching his behavior and trying not to get too emotional when the baby hits especially as I noticed he is eager to see the reaction from me! Thanks for all the wonderful advice, I'll be reading any more that come my way.

By Jazzylazzy (Guest Post)
December 15, 20070 found this helpful

Ask yourself what triggers this behavior? Is he tired? Hungry? Bored? Needs to get more of your attention? I am the mother of 7 children and I have been a child care provider for 20 years. I have found that children of this age need you to constantly talk to them so that they can make sense of the world that is so fascinating to them. When they misbehave, I have found a firm tone of voice in correcting them (not yelling) to be the most effective. If a young child does something he knows he is not supposed to do, correct them and then take a few minutes to hold them and let them know how much you love them. Praise every good behavior you see so that they learn it is easier to get your attention when they are behaving well. I often exclaim,"Oh, that was perfect! Good for you!"

Do not allow your child to torment your pets! What will happen when he innocently tries the same tactics with an animal that is not the family pet? Hospital bills and stitches are not the result you want to deal with. Aggression toward you, the pets, and other children must be dealt with immediately.
Please know that this behavior is fairly normal and that your love and diligence will help him through it. My observation is that children's behavior travels through 6 month cycles. Very sweet for 6 months then very challenging for 6 months. Pray for confidence in yourself as his divine mother and shower him with love and joy.

December 15, 20070 found this helpful

Me again! Wanted to let you know that my pets are very important to me, they are members of the family. All of us guard the pets when Jack is around them and let him see that we shower them with love and gentleness. We hope he will go back to his old self of being caring once he sees the good example continued as we always have. We never let him wail on our dog and cat. It just isn't acceptable to us! I've had some wonderful advice as always here and really, truly appreciate the feedback.

By Louise (Guest Post)
December 17, 20070 found this helpful

My son use to bite his sister when he was about 2 1/2 and she wouldn't bite him back so one day he bit a plug out of her back and I MADE her bite him back so he'd know how it felt. Well I'm happy to say, he never bit her again. He found out it hurt. I'd use my hand on the little one's rear end hard enough to make it sting, if this happens every time he's mean to an animal or you, he'll learn fast enough this is not acceptable and stop it.

By rae. (Guest Post)
December 26, 20070 found this helpful

Changes in behaviour need to be investigated. Kids from 18 months onwards do start to exhibit traits of the terrible twos. Like the other have said - keep a diary of when this happens. Set clear boundaries of what is going to happen if he hurts one of the animals. I prefer to use time out to smacking, as you are trying to teach the child not to hurt another creature but you in turn are doing the same action to him by hitting him as he hit the cat. In this time of a child's development, they start to display a rebellious nature. Remove him when he hurts the animals or someone else and put him on a naughty mat or chair for some time out - about a minute at his age. Get rid of additives from his food eg eliminate cordial, lollies, etc. Your doctor or clinical sister should be able to give you a list of the additives in foods that can cause behavioural problems. Make sure that you are spending equal amounts of time with him and the animals. My daughter used to scratch everyone. We tried everything until one day Grandma sat her down and said did she know what is was like to be scratched. She giggled and ran off. Half an hour later she scratched grandma on the arm, so grandma very lightly scratched her arm. She didn't like it. It took a couple more light scratches but she soon learnt. I don't like physically hurting kids but sometimes a dose of their own medicine is needed. Good luck and do some research on the interent into parenting sites. Nanny Jo Frost from Super Nanny has some really great advice.

November 17, 20080 found this helpful

I know this is going to make me sound horrible, but a little tough love never hurt anything. People are terrified of spanking their children anymore. I am a Christian woman and the Bible says that foolishness is bound in the heart of a child. Some children you can talk into better behavior, some time out will work with, some children respond well to positive reinforcement.

Some kids on the other hand you have to do something drastic to get their attention. I realize that many people think that pets are helpless and need you to protect them. Animals like dogs and cats (unless they are babies) can protect themselves. No one should ever assume, no matter how great tempered or how loved their pet is that it will never bite.

If you have to be very firm to get him to quit, do it. You are also protecting him from doing something that may get him hurt. I have four biological kids and two step kids and they all have their own personalities. My two year old starting hitting, biting, pushing, and sassing. She is the baby so she is a little spoiled. I need to tighten up on her too. A lot of people think spanking will teach your kids violence. I know people who don't spank their kids and they are some of the most violent and mean kids I have ever seen. I would not worry about it being a medical or mental problem.

All of our kids went through violent stages. Some lasted longer than others. Some children are also naturally aggressive where others are shy and mellow. Also, the fact that he laughed at you when you swatted him obviously means he does not respect your authority. That would suck if he did it when he got older. It would hurt a lot more and will probably progress to other people including kids at school.

I hope this helps and does not sound harsh or condescending, but I have had a lot of experience and practice. I have definitely made my share of mistakes.

March 1, 20100 found this helpful

This is an extremely important stage. Hitting is a behavior that he thinks is being social but that is actually anti-social.

1. Let him know that it hurts by saying Ow, not by hitting back. Don't exaggerate. Let it just come out as if you had just run into a table and hurt yourself. No cussing, just a pain reaction as if you hurt yourself and knew that you were not blaming something else.
2. Walk away.

The fun is over. The conversation is over. The interaction is over.
Find something else to do by yourself.

Treat the situation as if he had said, "I want to be alone."

Hitting him back or having his sister bite him back may teach him that bigger people can hit harder or bite harder. But this is not the exact lesson you want him to learn.

With a cat or dog, I would do 2 things: 1) make sure the cat has a way to get away from the child. 2) I would never reprimand a pet for doing what they need to do in this particular situation. Pets are extremely good at non-verbal communication, better than humans are. They have lessons they can teach both your child and the adults.

The pet's first choice will be to get away from the child and be wary of the child -- demonstrating to the child that they do not trust him. The ideal situation is a high shelf where the cat can jump to out of reach of the child, but that the cat can watch the child and the child can see that the cat is watching warily. Perhaps every time the child enters the room, the cat jumps to the shelf.

If pets are cornered, then they will fight. Hopefully your cat is not de-clawed. I have seen cats wait for the perfect moment and give the perfect strike -- one that can not be misunderstood. Not particularly painful, but a very exact "hey, that hurts" statement and walk away. The cat makes the entire statement. Do not mess it up with words and yelling at the child or the cat. The cat said it all.

Cats and dogs deal with 2-year-olds all the time. Pets are basically stuck at the 2-year-old human stage of mental development and communication. They themselves think more like a 2-year-old than you do.

I've watched parents try to teach the child to be gentle by using the word "gentle", but the kids don't get it really. They are gentle when the parent reminds them, but when the parent is not paying attention, the child does not think of it on their own.

It may take only once. Or, if your timing is off or you faked your response, it may take a few times until the child realizes that you are really hurt. He might even test the cause and effect relationship to see if their action actually caused the effect. But the learning curve is actually shorter this way than the hitting back technique. The hitting/biting back is a specific situation. The kid will test every situation to see who hits him back and who doesn't.


Silver Answer Medal for All Time! 409 Answers
July 24, 20170 found this helpful

Your kid needs more than a little swat on the bottom. Dr John Rosemond has some excellent advice on child rearing.


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