Parental complaints regarding a "toddler hitting my face" are not unusual. In fact, most toddlers will go through a period of aggression during which they express their desires through borderline violent physical acts. However, normal as this may be, it is essential that a parent control these outbursts early on before they spiral out of control.
Why Is My Toddler Hitting My Face?
Toddlers are not usually equipped with developed language skills and they lack the ability to rationalize. Whereas a baby vociferates its unmet demands through crying or intense screaming, toddlers make use of their mobility to make their wants known. Many toddlers will begin the act of hitting when an object is taken away from them or a demand is ignored. Whether a child hits a parent's face or an arm, the fact that a toddler is hitting in general is the issue.
Toddlers typically hit to assert their will on their immediate environment. When a parent complains of a "toddler hitting my face" their child has truly engaged in the parent vs. child power struggle that will continue for years to come and may sometimes continue interminably. This is why quick action is necessary on the part of the parent.
The Importance of Authority
Parents should not be tyrants. However, they are present in a child's life to nurture and guide their young. In order to guide effectively, parents need to be the authority in a child's life and not vice versa. The early stages of tantrums and hitting that mark toddlerhood need to be controlled lest a child develop the idea that he is, indeed, the household authority. In general, parents are supposed to be responsible and rational beings and the more effective units of authority. To give an irrational and inexperienced toddler the authority over any environment is a poor idea. Moreover, children who receive the message in their early years that their will is the priority factor typically grow into adults who are poorly disciplined, unpleasant, and sometimes entirely anti-social individuals.
Establishing a healthy amount of authority over your children from the toddler years and beyond is an investment in your their future. If your child cannot learn to be respectful when it comes to his parents, it is unlikely that any figure from schoolteachers to future bosses will ever be seen as an adequate source of authority. This can translate to a rebellious child who does poorly in school and is virtually unemployable. Yes, this represents the most extreme cases of ill-disciplined children, but the connection is still present.
There are many schools of philosophy when it comes to parenting. In modern society, spanking has taken a back seat to the Super Nanny culture. However, regardless of what means is used to control your toddler's behavior, the important aspects are that the form of discipline used is effective and non-damaging. A parent must possess a "no tolerance" policy towards a toddler who hits. If this means holding the child's hands firmly as an act of prevention or leading your toddler to a corner where he must remain for a suitable duration of time has been served, then let this be the case.
It is important that the punishment succeed the hitting or attempted hitting immediately, as not to confuse a child regarding why he is being punished. Also, remember that toddlers do not understand highly developed speech. They are usually hitting as a basic instinct because they lack the vocabulary to voice their will. Hence, lengthy discussions and moralizing speeches are often wasted on a toddler who is throwing a tantrum.
Severe cases of hitting may require a child to be seen by a counselor. Again, parents should not see the need for a counselor as a terrible failing on their part. Every child is different, and some cases are caused by a severely strong will that is difficult for even the best parents to temper. These counseling sessions should not be feared, but they should, likewise, be seen as an investment towards your child's future.