It may seem odd, but most children hit because they are afraid. Children, especially toddlers, are still learning about emotions their own and also of the people around them. Mostly they cry, scream, or hit or bite when they can not communicate their feelings of fear, and they do not know of any other way to communicate. When arms swing the first time to hit they don’t know what they just did and then it happens again and again.
It is how we react to this is what makes them do it all the more. We mostly react in a way they have never seen us do. Being angry/upset or say a really loud and firm NO. To understand what made us behave in that certain way, they do it again to better understand their actions. Saying NO doesn’t help, at all.
Hitting does go away on its own. Yes, it does if we calmly move away when they do it. When your child hits you or their sibling just move away. Take the older or younger one away from the scene and move away. Try understanding why triggered the situation. Did they think their sibling is coming to take away their toys? Did they think you are going to pick up the sibling in your arms instead of them? Figuring out the reason helps solve it. If you do not react in a wild way, chances are that the hitting will subside and eventually go away. They will channelise themselves to throwing a ball running or crying but not hitting.
You could also be a little more friendly at that time. Instead of being the bad guy screaming as soon as the hands come out to give a high five. Ask them if there’s a fly they are trying to move. Just tell them oh no, what happened. Move hands away gently and give a hug. Tell your older one to run and start playing a game. By this time, the younger one has forgotten what he was doing and gets involved in a game or running and playing. Let them cry or take the emotions out rather than the fear build up and take to hit. Let they be tantrums and meltdowns it’s way better than hitting.
Tell them I love you
Tell them – no one’s mad at you. It’s okay.
Tell them – whatever you are scared of don’t worry, it won’t happen again.
Listen to them, hear them out.
Anticipate the behavior. Act ahead of the situation. Help your staff and caregivers understand the situation and talk to them about it.