Heather Novak

When toddlers have trouble communicating they often become a hitting and biting toddler. Awesome, right? How do we get these little people to stop hitting? How do you, short of biting them back, get these terrible 2- and 3-year-olds to stop biting other kids, or worse, you? I have this 2-year-old. Libby. She is already correcting our language choices and keeping us in line. Like today at the park, we were enjoying a picnic lunch and I said to her sister Portia, “Turn around and sit square in your chair, Portia!”

Having a Hitting and Biting Toddler

Libby immediately piped up, “It’s not a chair, Mama. It’s a BENCH!”

Reeeeealllllly? She is TWO. Oh My.

And then there is the hitting. Annnnnd the biting. We are proud parents. You know the pinnacle of toddler parenting is to have a little folk who hits or bites.  (SCORE!)

So today she hits Portia. Don’t get me wrong, Portia probably deserved it. She bosses and bullies Libby a bit since she is four and older. But we do not allow it. So I talked with Libby. Again. I asked her why she hits, believing she hits when she feels frustrated or mowed over. I was surprised by her answer.

“Because I just wanted to hit someone,” she says sweetly in her muddled toddler voice.

What do you do with that? When your curly haired chubby cherub of a baby girl is so self assured and direct and honest? I stifled my laugh and took her into her bedroom and had her practice hitting her pillow instead. I thought that might help stop toddler hitting. I explained it was not okay to hit people. She could use her words instead. And if she just wanted to hit someone, I told her she could come into her room and hit a pillow.


I thought we had it figured out. Then on the way home from the park the same day, Portia squeals from the back seat and cries huge tears, cradling her hand: Libby bit her.

I erupt in anger and correction and frustration. We agree the punishment is to put Libby’s newest favorite Smurf toy into “toy jail” until Monday morning. I make her bring it to me when we get home, tears rolling down her face with the gravity of the situation. My heart aches for her, but I know she needs to learn this lesson, to feel this unhappiness. Into toy jail goes the Smurf.

We head upstairs for nap time, which I am beginning to suspect is sorely overdue today. Libby is calm and I ask her quietly, “Libby, why did you bite Portia?” I watch her darling face as we climb the stairs side by side.

She looks at me and says, “Sometimes I just want to bite somebody!”

I look away as quickly as possible, I glance over my shoulder at my husband. We both get it. Oh, Libby! Sometimes I just want to bite someone, too, and it is my job as your mama not to. It is my job as your mama to teach you, train you not to act on those basic urges. I will keeping trying different things to stop toddler hitting and biting, little Libby. But I am going to have to do it while hiding my laughter. I understand, little one. Sometimes I want to bite somebody too.

I found some other great approaches from Dr. Sears and also from Love and Logic, which is what we use. How do you stop your hitting and biting toddler from doing those things?

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Category: Babies

Tags: bad behavior