Living With a Toddler Who Wants to Hurt You

Today I'd like to talk about the other side of parenting. Not the lovely, fun times that we all enjoy so much but the hurtful, bewildering times when your sweet little toddler decides you are nothing more than a punch-bag!

Living with a Toddler

This is E, looking so cute as we walk N to school. Does she look like a vicious monster? Not at all. Does she look like a violent beast? Definitely not. But that is exactly how she behaves sometimes.

She mostly smacks or pinches, which is bad enough by itself, but very occasionally she tries to take a bite! Only yesterday she ran up behind me and bit my leg drawing blood and leaving a small bruise. She laughed because she thought it was funny but after a firm 'NO' from me her expression quickly turned sheepish. 

I went through exactly the same with T and N when they were around E's age - T would often head-butt me right on the nose when I was trying to get him dressed and N had a thing for pinching. 

With your first child I think it's far more devastating, you feel as though you've failed as a mum, they hate you, they'll grow up to be a violent thug etc. You don't realise that it's just a part of growing up, that they will grow out of the phase as quickly as they grew into it, you just have to ride out the storm for a while.

I think the way you handle this phase plays a big part in how long it'll last. T's definitely lasted longer than N's because I had kind of caught on that I shouldn't make a huge fuss by the time I had her. With T I often ended up in tears and he found that amusing so simply did it even more.

Obviously you have to let them know hurting someone is wrong and, as I mentioned above, in my experience a firm 'NO' often does the trick. If that doesn't work though another option is the 'ignoring tactic': stay in the same room but walk away from them (this also gives you a chance to breathe) and don't make eye contact, they won't want to be ignored by mummy for long so your angelic toddler should quickly return. At this point don't forget to give them a hug because as upsetting as it is for you, it's likely that it's just as upsetting for your little one!

So here's my theory on why this unpleasant stage exists - it's a communication thing. They understand far more at this age than they can convey themselves and it's extremely frustrating for them. They want to be able to tell you exactly what it is they want but the words won't come and you're randomly offering them things that just aren't right. 

Their frustration sometimes comes out in the form of smacking, kicking, pinching and even head-butting or biting - not the correct way to react at all but they don't understand that either because they're still so new to this thing called life.

I believe if you stop and look at things from their point of view it becomes so much easier to understand (and forgive) their actions. They don't really want to hurt you, they just need you to understand them!

Does your toddler hurt you? Or did your children do the same when they were toddlers? I'd love to hear from you.


  1. You're exactly right Kate. This developmental stage is to do with communication and they are expressing their frustration. It could be a myriad of things that they are feeling but can't verbalise. How you deal with it is perfect too. It's never good to respond when you're emotional is it ... So easy (especially when they're older) to communicate at their level and suddenly you're not the adult anymore. Emotional intelligence is a steep learning curve when you're a parent.

    Fab too that you've written about it because it's not something we like to own up to and I hope it helps others going through the same thing.

    1. There are so many learning curves as a parent and as they grow up there are even more new things to learn - it never stops does it! I love being able to share my parenting experiences, hopefully one day something I've written might come in handy to someone who is struggling :)

      Thanks Shaz x


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