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camd2000, Parent Coach/Therapist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 13
Experience:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Child and Family Therapist, Parent Educator and Mother.
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Our daughter is 20 months and for the past 3 months she has

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Our daughter is 20 months and for the past 3 months she has been hitting when she doesn't get her way. She also hits even when she is playing. It is hard as well, in the face, slapping all of us, mom, dad, brother. She even hits when we are sleeping.

We have tried it all as far as normal stuff. Very stern 'no's' , "we don't hit, hitting hurts, it's not ok" and also time out. Nothing seems to work.

She also cries and cries at night an throws her bottle, fusses..this will go on days on end, to the point of zero sleep. She didn't ever do this in the past.

So basically we are having a tough time with here behavior and aren't really sure what to do, as nothing seems to be making it better.

We all in all loving family, financially secure, don't have physical violence in the house, and are currently traveling on extended stay in spain, thus seeking local help would be hard.

Thanks in advance


Hi. I am sorry that you are having some difficulty with your daughter. The toddler years can be challenging. A lot of times children hit as a way to communicate whether it is to express a feeling, to get attention, or as a way to interact with others. It sounds like you have tried a lot of things, but if you haven't tried some of these, here are some ideas:


1. Try and teach her another way to communicate her needs. If she hits because she is angry. Teach her to say, "I'm mad" and you can even teach her to stomp her feet or huff (its a safer way to express her anger). If she is hitting because she wants attention, teach her to say, "mommy will you play with me please".


2. Acknowledge her feelings. You must be really angry if you are hitting. But, there is no hitting. If you are angry, say, "I'm Mad"


3. Teach her to be gentle. When she hits, especially if it is play, remind her to be gentle and show her how. Take her hand and brush it gently where she hit you so that she can see the difference.


It takes some time and as she gains more impulse control, language skills and social skills the hitting will probably decrease. Be consistent, and use lots of gentle reminders, redirection and use the opportunity to teach her what you want her to do (be gentle).


As for the sleep issue, is she fussing and crying when she is in her crib? Is this every night? How do you respond? When she does eventually fall asleep, how does she get to sleep? She may be going through a phase when she does not want to be separated from you and therefore is acting out to keep you in the room (this happens often around 2). While you are traveling you may want to try lying with her to give her comfort and if that works, when you return home slowly phase out of the room (lying with her for less and less time each night).


I hope this information has been helpful. If so, please give me a positive rating. Also, if you would like I can send some parenting handouts about discipline and time outs that I have created. If you are interested please let me know and I can attach them. And, let me know more about the sleep issue so I can help you with that. Best, Kerrie

camd2000 and 2 other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi, thanks we will try some of that. We do already take her hand and brush it on our face soft and say this is nice. She says nice and does it like that soft, but then will either squeeze and scratch or hit.

the issue is at night she won't go down. Right now we have her in our room, and have no playpen/crib. We will put her in her chair and rock her to sleep with a bottle, but in a matter of minutes or 1hr she will throw the bottle and start crying for us. This will go on all night. We will put her in a small bed next to ours in the room on the floor (pullout) and she does this too. We litterally haven't slept in a week and it's exausting and emotionally so hard ot keep doing. At home she would cry but we could leave her in her crib until she calmed herself in her room and would slleep throughout most of the night.

Not sure what to do


No sleep in a week - you must be beyond exhausted. Has there been anything that has worked? Since you are traveling I would try whatever gets her to sleep even if it something you would not do at home. But, here are a couple of ideas. Have you considered having her sleep in your bed (if there is room)? Again, you would need to do some work to transition her back to her own room when you get home, but right now the priority is probably getting you all some sleep. Another idea is to give her a blanket, shirt or something you use that has your scent that she can sleep with and have the sense that you are there. Does she cry for you even if you are in the room? Perhaps she is having trouble with the new surroundings. I would like to give you some more ideas, but please let me know if anything has worked and if she cries for you even when you are sleeping nearby. Thanks
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes we have let sleep in bed, doesn't seem to keep her asleep. Getting her down takes about 1hr minimum, but within an hr it's back to the same things and it goes on all night. We've tried it all, she just will sit up, throw her bottle and cry. We can't be away from her and even then she fusses and doesn't want to sleep

Is it possible she is having night terrors or sleep terrors?



Is it possible she is having a nightmare or a night terror?
Here is some information on night terrors and nightmares from eat-sleep-love:
Dealing with Nightmares and Night Terrors
Does your child experience nightmares or night terrors? Do you know the difference between the two and the causes for each? Night terrors are characterized by loud and intense crying our screaming that usually happen during non-REM sleep, in the early parts of the evening (generally within 1-3 hours after going to sleep). During a night terror, your child is not actually awake, and will not remember what is happening. A child having a night terror may be screaming or talking or calling out, but they do not seem to be fully there or recognize you. When a child is experiencing a night terror, it is actually best NOT to touch them or pick them up - it can make the night terror more intense. Instead, calmly sit with your child, offer some very soft vocal comfort if you feel it helps. It should resolve on its own, and your child will return to sleep faster if not disturbed during the terror. Remember - the terror is scarier for you - your child is not aware it is happening and will not remember in the morning! Night terrors are most often caused by scheduling issues - insufficient daytime sleep, too late a bedtime, or too much time from the end of the last nap until bedtime.

Unlike night terrors, nightmares happen during REM sleep, more often in the middle of the night/early hours of the morning. They tend to happen more frequently as children develop creatively and can articulate their thoughts and fantasies. Children will usually wake and express their fears/concerns, and will remember what is scaring them. They do recognize parents when we respond to them. Nightmares can be caused by insufficient daytime sleep or too late of a bedtime, and occasionally by foods we eat. Anxieties, and simple stories or things children hear or see may lead to nightmares, as may life stressors. To address nightmares, help your child feel secure and empowered. Often, giving them a way to express their fears or protect themselves from their bad thoughts can help!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

no, none of this seems to be what is going on

Ok. Is she falling asleep in your arms or with the bottle? It might be due to waking up not in your arms or without the bottle. Or it could be due to traveling. Although it is difficult to make sleep changes while traveling there are some things you can do:

1. Make the bedtime routine as consistent as possible: Same bedtime each night and same routine to help her signal bed (bath, books, song)
2. Give her something of yours she can sleep with
3. Talk to her about sleep and why it is important.
4. Let her know that you are always nearby
5. Offer her a reward for staying in her bed and sleeping all night
6. Encourage her to fall asleep on her own with you nearby
7. These books might help: The Invisible String by Patrice Karst or Bedtime by Elizabeth Verdick

Please let me know if this is helpful