When my toddler hits another child, takes a toy, or throws things, what should I do?

Toddlers need to learn limits in a warm, loving way, including that hitting or taking toys is not something that we do. There are many ways to help toddlers learn this without yelling or hitting or being harsh. Gently removing her from the situation and explaining what is appropriate is a first step, if she is old enough to understand. If not, try substitution and distraction. Sharing is something that children learn, and often by our example. For some children, removing the favorite toys before others come over can help. There are many good books on disciplining without yelling or hitting that might help you discover the best way to teach your child.

When your child acts out in these ways, she may be trying to communicate to you that her "emotional tank" is empty or that she is feeling stressed out. In other words, she may be asking for a little more one-on-one attention. Try reducing your activities and spend some time alone reading, playing, or talking. You may be surprised how quickly this fulfills her needs and calms her down.

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