What to do When Your Toddler Hits & Bites: Tackling Aggressive Behavior

Last Updated on May 16, 2015

What to do When Your Toddler Hits & Bites: Tackling Aggressive Behavior 

It can be hard to know what to do when your toddler starts to bite and hit. Unfortunately, this aggressive behavior is a phase that many toddlers go through. Some toddlers grow out of this stage quicker than others, and there are things you can do as a parent to help your toddler stop this behavior. Here are some tips you can use to tackle aggressive behavior in your toddler.


Check Their Needs

Why is your toddler biting and hitting? Before tackling your toddler’s aggressive behavior, you need to know the reason behind it. This will help you come up with a plan of action that will nip this behavior in the bud. First, check your child’s needs. Is your toddler in need of a nap or snack? Being tired and hungry can definitely cause your normally sweet toddler to act aggressively. If this isn’t the cause, it could be your toddler is simply going through a phase or has learned the behaviour from somewhere.

Say NO

When your toddler hits and bites, don’t be afraid to use a firm voice. You won’t want to scream at your toddler, but you can tell your child, “No!” in a stern voice. You can also tell your toddler that biting hurts, or that hitting isn’t nice. By vocalizing your expectations, you’re giving your child immediate feedback on the aggressive behavior.

Use Time Outs

You can also use timeouts to help manage aggressive behaviour in your toddler. A timeout is the perfect consequence for many reasons. First, it is a non-aggressive response on your part. Yelling and spanking are both aggressive behaviours that should be avoided because it sends mixed signals to your toddler. A timeout also gives your toddler a chance to sit and cool off, hopefully giving them time to work their way through the negative feelings.

Redirect Them

If your toddler is demonstrating aggressive behaviour, try to redirect them. When your toddler bites you, ask if they are hungry and give them something safe to munch on. When your child hits, ask if they want to read a story together. By redirecting your toddler’s behaviour at the first sign of aggression, you can help to avoid a fit that includes a lot of aggression.

Model the Right Behaviour

To help avoid aggressive behaviour in your toddler, start modeling the desired behaviour early. Show your child that hitting isn’t the right response to being frustrated, and then show them different ways they can express their emotions. This can include talking about it or even drawing a picture of how they’re feeling. The more you show your toddler the correct way to respond to situations, the less aggressive behaviour you’ll see.


Hitting and biting is definitely a common phase that many toddlers go through. It’s important to tackle this behaviour right away to help teach your child the right way to act. What are your tips for dealing with toddlers that bite and hit?

14 thoughts on “What to do When Your Toddler Hits & Bites: Tackling Aggressive Behavior

  1. All great tips on how to deal with these behaviors, will share with a friend that is dealing with this right now.

  2. great tips, I worked in daycare for years and seen many toddlers go through this bite faze, most did it when they wanted a certain toy,or were just in a fowl mood, the timeout worked on some but a few the parents told us to bite them back as nothing else was working

  3. Those are great tips! Modeling is key! I know sometimes I can get so mad I’m not thinking straight. I tend to take some time out before I explode at the kids and just gather myself. The kids will pick up what we say and what we do more than we realize. I also suggest being consistent…not matter if their bad behaviour is at home or outside of the home.

  4. This is a awesome post! Great tips that are so important and actually work, my sister has a two year old who has been showing signs of aggressive behavior, like hitting. It is so important to teach them I is not right and to be firm.

  5. These are all great tips, but the only thing that worked for my youngest is that I actually had to bite her back, and it worked she never bit again because she didn’t like it herself and I explained to her, that it hurt us when she bit just like it hurt her!

  6. Great tips!

    Following thru when serving up consequences or time outs is so important. NO matter now big or small….

  7. Only one of my now five adult children ever bit. He bit me while I was laying down beside him to help him take a nap.
    I was so surprised that I probably scared him a little with my firm ‘no.’
    He never bit again and none of my other four children bit anyone, as far as I know.
    I think your advice is very sensible as I have seen other children bite at about one year of age.

  8. I have a nephew who is dealing with problem, make that nightmare, right now. To make matter worse, he would like to put her in a daycare a couple days a week. I’ll pass these great tips on to him. I think they are spot on!

  9. These are great tips! I think it’s so important to implement these strategies when he or she is still young, and habits haven’t formed yet.

  10. I would think that firmness, consistency and time outs would help and I think your tips are sensible and timely.

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