When toddlers hit

Learn about: When toddlers hit from Barbara Olinger, MSW,...
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When toddlers hit

Toddlers are basically ruled by their physical impulses. That can lead to a lot of hitting and pushing. This is normal. We often have to set a limit with the behavior, but it's important to look at the motivation. If the child is hitting or pushing and doesn't seem upset, it might be that they are doing it to get a social connection. In that way, step in and say, "Hitting can hurt, but I'm wondering if you wanted to say 'Hi.'" You can say, "hi" and wave without hitting. We practice this. We model this for them. If the child is feeling angry and frustrated and hits or kicks, we might have to do something else. We have to set the limit, but we can also gently move them over and let them hit the pillow, stomp the ground, or tear up newspapers. We don't expect toddlers to stop their impulses, but we want to teach them safe ways to express them. Remember the learning curve with toddlers is very long and they need a lot of practice.

Learn about: When toddlers hit from Barbara Olinger, MSW,...


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Barbara Olinger, MSW

Family Consultant

Barbara Olinger has her Masters in Social Work and has worked with children and families in both educational and therapeutic settings for over 35 years. This has included being a Child and Family Therapist, the Supervising Clinician in an outpatient mental health clinic, a co-founder of a co-operative preschool, and Director of Family Development at the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside. In her current private practice, Barbara focuses on parent education and support for parents of children ages 1-10 years old and preschool teacher training. She offers on-going groups, individual/couples sessions, a monthly Dads Group, workshops on a variety of parenting topics, and phone consultations. Barbara has two sons, 29 and 26 years old.

The roots of healthy development begins with having our needs met. This is a requirement for growth: to separate, to feel confident physically, emotionally and socially, to gain a healthy sense of self, to be able to become compassionate. When our needs are supported, we develop from a foundation of trust- in our relationships and in our exploration of the world.

Strong families are built on a foundation in which development is understood and celebrated, mistakes are allowed, feelings are validated and connecting with others is emphasized. Parents can set limits with behavior while supporting needs in a way which promotes learning and self-esteem.

During this whole parenting journey, it is crucial to be conscious of our own needs and to take care of ourselves. Sharing our fears and anxieties about parenting with others can help us realize we all feel vulnerable at times and this can provide a space for growth and connection. Every parent need support!

Barbara’s parenting book “Growing From the Roots” and two DVDs (“Growing From the Roots” and “Welcoming Your Second Child”) are available through Amazon.com

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