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Last Friday, when I went to nursery to pick up Elizabeth, one of the carers said she needed, ‘a quiet word’. “Elizabeth hits herself when she is told off” she told me. “Do you know about this?”. I did actually, and told her so. But WHY is my toddler hitting herself?
Why is My Toddler Hitting Herself?
The nursery nurse really worried me about this being an issue. It was obviously something that she hadn’t come across before.
The awkward truth of the matter is that I hit myself when I get mad. I’m ashamed to admit it, I self punish as a release to the frustration I feel and the anxiety I suffer. But Elizabeth has NEVER seen me do this. So to find out that she possibly does the same really upsets me.
I know that they call it the “Terrible Twos”. But even Supernanny hadn’t prepared me for this.
I always have thought Elizabeth was a typical toddler. Testing boundaries. Seeing how far she can go before being called naughty. Not malicious, just toddler behaviour.
6 months or so ago we started using the “Naughty Step” technique. I bought a mat and a timer. But Elizabeth just laughs and I don’t think it has really made any difference.
I feel like we give her too much of her own way. According to Supernanny it’s easy. We’ve done all the steps that Supernanny suggests.
- Explaining why we want the good behaviour/ to stop the bad behaviour
- Then giving a warning
- and an ultimatum.
- Finally it is time for the naughty step. And asking the toddler why they have been put there. Then expecting an apology and having a cuddle, before moving on.
But it doesn’t work. Elizabeth either comes straight off, running away. Or goes off and does something even more naughty. She fights us. Runs away. Kicks. Cries. Screams.
And now, worst of all she hits herself when we tell her off or say ‘no’ to her demands. I decided to find out, is this normal behaviour? Why is my she doing it? Is it a sign that she could also self harm in years to come?
What is the cause?
As we all know, toddlers can be pretty manipulative, and quite intelligent in the ways that they try to get our attention and to get their own way. We can already see this manipulation with E, she cries to get attention, then listens. If we ignore her cries, she will try a different type of crying. We might give in, or not.
So is this head hitting a new form of getting attention, and being manipulative?
At the moments I am taking this as a sign of pure frustration that she cannot put into words how she is feeling. That she just cannot vocalise how she feels when she cannot get her own way.
The Color Monster
My actions are going to be to respond to her emotions by gently and calmly using the words for the emotions that I think that she is feeling. Maybe by saying, “You’re really upset” or “You’re really angry” and then telling her to stop hurting herself. Hopefully by telling her that it hurts me to see her hurting herself, she may think twice about doing it.
I just want her to know that I care and that I know how she feels.
In time I hope that she will grow out of this behaviour. But it will be being monitored, believe me.
Do you have a toddler that is hitting themselves? I would love to hear your comments, or find me on social media.
Enjoyed this? Why not read my tips for when a Toddler has a Broken Leg.
And read how we prepared Elizabeth for a Tonsillectomy