A toddler may be defined as a kid whose age is in between 12 months to 36 months (1-3 years), although there are other varying definitions as well. Sometimes the kids of 4 years are also considered as toddlers. However, there is no such upper limit for toddlerhood.
The word toddler has been derived from “to toddle,” which means to walk unsteadily and precariously.
During the toddler years, you can see diverse physical growth and slow motor development. But you will see profound and tremendous physical, emotional, social, and behavioral changes as your child advances from infancy to preschool years.
Toddlerhood or toddler development can be ramified as per the reasonable consensus into several interrelated areas such as –
- Physical – It involves physical growth or increment in body size, including height, weight, and width
- Gross motor – It is the regulation of the large muscles that helps your toddler walk, jump, run, and climb
- Fine motor – Regulation of small muscles that enable your toddlers to feed themselves, draw and manipulate objects
- Vision – Capability to see the distant and near objects and interpret the viewed objects
- Hearing and speech – It is the capacity to hear and receive the data (information) and interpret, understand and learn languages, and implement in the communication effectively
- Social – It is the capability to interact with the people around via playing, speaking, etc.
Related Reading: 12 Social Skills Activities For Toddlers
There are certain things you need to know while upraising your toddlers. They tend to get angry often and may even hit themselves. Thus, here we are to provide possible guidelines to supervise your young ones.
Is It Normal For Toddlers To Hit Themselves?
Your toddlers need your constant supervision and counseling. As they undergo various changes right from physical to emotional, it is likely for the juveniles to get enraged. They need to be perused regularly to observe any kind of discrete changes in their behavior.
Kidshealth survey has lighted up that about 20- 25% of toddlers hit themselves, smack, bang against the walls or bite themselves when they are aggressive. It is almost normal for these sluggers to hit themselves, but if the severity becomes high, then that is completely unusual and may require your immediate attention.
Toddlers harming themselves may turn out to be surprising and shocking for parents. But the majority of kids are ready to erupt on themselves when they are stressed, helpless, frustrated, hurt, or furious.
And they may not be well accustomed to express their feelings and resentments, which furthermore adds frustration and wraths. Parents should have a responsible way of handling such situations as the toddlers need their support and time in every step and stage.
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Hurting by hitting themselves may help them express their anger, dislikes, stress, dissatisfaction, and many more.
Why Do You Think Your Toddler Starts To Hit Himself When Angry?
Tackling aggressive toddlers must be a real challenge, especially when they physically outburst their emotions and dissatisfactions.
Seldom, they express their resentments by hitting other children, but they hit themselves to express these emotions most of the time. To your utter astonishment at your toddler’s behavior, you may probably think that some significant problems lie there with your children.
Although this behavior isn’t normal and common, you need not stress over it immediately. Before taking any immediate action, you must know that there are surplus causes for these behavioral changes. Thus, this may rely on your young ones as “one size doesn’t fit all.”
Parents need to observe the surroundings around any instance when they find their toddler hitting himself, pay attention to outside influences regularly.
Before consultation with the pediatrician or any medical experts regarding your toddler’s behavior, let us dive into the possible causes for such –
1. Motor development issues
Motor development means the physical growth and strengthening of a child’s bones, muscles, and the ability to move and interpret.
As the toddlers grow up, they will learn higher levels of motor coordination and functions. Owing to their natural incoordination of learning these new motor patterns, they may end up hitting themselves.
Sensory development also has a role to play here. They may rejoice in the tactile input of hitting themselves or are endeavoring to be well familiar with the surroundings. This can be an indication of behavioral and developmental requirements.
Related Reading: 21 Indoor Activities For Babies And Toddlers (Age 0m-2 years)
2. A desire for sensory input
You may find your toddler hitting himself to feel something physically. They may hit or smack themselves to furnish the tactile- touch receptors on the derma or feed ineffective proprioceptive/ deep pressure input to the muscles or joints.
Normalize these by providing the right sensory input to your children.
3. They don’t know how to adequately express their anger
This might be the primary reason for the toddlers’ hurting themselves. Especially when they aren’t able to verbalize their feelings, needs, dislikes, and dissatisfaction, they find hitting themselves as the only way to express these.
Consequently, self hitting is the only way for them to silence their aggression and furiousness. When limitations are set up for them, they may burst out.
- They may have stress – Just like adults, kids can struggle to cope with stress. It doesn’t seem relevant that such little ones feel stress, but they do feel so. Self hitting might be a way to lessen the stress
- They are in physical aches- You may notice that some toddlers begin hitting themselves when physical pain is annoying them. They find hitting as a new way to distract themselves from aches. Physical pain may involve tummy aches, toothache, ear infections, sunburns, itching, etc. If you observe constant hitting at the same site, they may be trying to communicate to show you the aches’ location
- They need attention- Toddlers are super smart when it comes to which thing catches your attention. They may hit themselves to distract you as they will be sure that you’ll comfort them. But considering this, you shouldn’t completely neglect your children
Related Reading: How To Stop Child From Biting Lower Lip? (1-3 Years)
What Should A Parent Do When A Toddler Hits Himself?
Parents may not prevent their young ones from hitting themselves, but they can follow certain advice to monitor their frustration and wraths.
1. Be patient
It aches to see the toddlers frustrated and unhappy especially when your toddler hits himself when told no. But the parents shouldn’t be there to fix every problem.
Instead, you should give them a chance to cope with life’s highs and lows on their own. This way, they might be good problem solvers ahead. They will be capable of putting their feelings into words, calm down when needed and bounce back to try again.
Parents should know that they won’t be there in the future to monitor and solve their problems. So, teaching them healthy coping strategies can help the kids manage stresses and aggression in the future.
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2. Create a safe environment
Parents should be clever enough. When you see your child hitting themselves when upset by hitting or banging their heads against a wall, you should displace them or remove the objects away from your children’s reach.
This way, their frustration may sink down, and they may feel better after some period of time. Also, such behaviors can gradually vanish.
3. Provide assistance
Whenever you see your child hurting himself when upset, you should immediately stop them by taking your arms as they block their fists.
This might be a better alternative to calm down your toddlers as it’ll be soothing and comforting. This way, self-injuries can be prevented. Also, you should aim to create a calm environment for your children to evacuate their aches or irritations.
4. Speak calming words
Such behaviors of the toddlers may urge you to confront them for a reason or lecture them for non-reiteration of such activities. But this is not the time for that.
You should give your best to calm them by your soothing words that you’ll be there for them. Also, you can hand them their favorite guns or bikes to play with or foods to eat.
This may reduce their aggression and divert their mind as there’ll be less likeliness of self-harming. You may reach them to verbalize their feelings.
Related Reading: The 10 Worst Things You Can Say To Your Child
5. Remove your child from the situation
Quitely removing the toddlers from hitting the situation may be an effective way to prevent the injuries.
You need to pre-plan and practice a couple of times to acquaint your toddler with the consequences. It involves abstaining them from going out and playing with their amigos if they hit themselves again.
6. Discuss alternatives
Beforehand, you should teach your toddler to deal with aggression, stress, irritations, emotions, etc.
Although they will not be at that mature stage to understand your every move, at least you should give them a proper lesson to handle aggressive situations.
For instance, while playing out, if any of his friends snatch his toys, then what should he do instead of hitting. You may tell him to confront these incidents to the adults instead of turning it into a hurtful situation.
When To Worry About A Toddler Hitting Himself?
When toddlers hit themselves owing to distress, aches, dislikes, dissatisfactions, then you need not bother about that.
But these may turn alarming once the toddlers begin to hit and hurt themselves on a regular basis, which is not associated with temper tantrums or acute pain or dissatisfactions.
At this point, you should bother about toddlers hitting themselves as such self-injuries may be linked with autism.
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Autism can be defined as a serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability of a child to interact and communicate. Such disorders impact the nervous system and affect the overall cognitive, emotional, social, and physical health of the toddlers.
The range and severity of symptoms may vary widely. Some of the significant symptoms include difficulty with social interactions, a problem with communications, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors like hitting themselves again and again with no specific cause.
Apart from hitting themselves, toddlers who have become the victim of autism may bite, smack, scratch, and bang their heads against the wall. Children with developmental impairments may find self hurting and self-harming as soothing.
Need to see a doctor
You may be wondering, “why do babies hit themselves in the head?” Everyone knows that Vestibular stimulation may occur because of rhythmic headbanging. But if there is no exact reason, you must know that it is not normal to hit and leave bruises on the body.
Here arises the need for consulting the pediatrician as it isn’t normal indications of hitting, and above all it isn’t safe for your young ones.
Toddlers who are of higher age may develop delays in speech because of extreme irritations and frustrations of not being able to express their needs.
Thus, if you feel that your toddler’s behavior of hitting himself isn’t normal, then you may observe all his details and note down these, and contact the pediatrician.
Toddlerhood is actually a developing phase of your child, and during these, several complications and alterations may develop. Thus, from the above-mentioned information, one can quickly analyze that the toddlers require the regular supervision of their parents during this phase.
You might be wondering, “how long does toddler hitting phase last?”
Well, many times, several uncertainties in the toddler’s behavior may occur, which may seem ordinary for a short while. However, in some cases, those behaviors prove to be perilous for your children for a long time.
Parents need to consult with the pediatrician or physician for every marked change in your children’s behavior. It is usual for them to show their aggression and frustration by hitting themselves. But if this exceeds a limit and duration of time then, it may be the alarming signs of some fatal disorders which may be dreadful later.
Thus, it’s recommended to be in regular touch with your children’s pediatrician, and these little toddlers need your support and guidance throughout the developmental phase.