Weird toddler behavior: Why do they hit themselves?

Filed under: Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Development/Milestones: Babies

My toddler has entered the phase of development where she hits herself when she gets frustrated. I say it's a phase because my preschooler did the same thing when she was younger, and I found it both odd and disturbing. Odd because it's such a strange behavior, and disturbing because, well, it can't feel good. It's not like my husband and I are walking around hitting ourselves so I can only assume it's something kids learn to do on their own. (Please tell me I'm not alone.)

When Wallie can't get her toy stroller going the right way, she'll throw it aside in frustration, try to kick it, and then hit herself on the top of the head. (Her older sister did a similar thing.) I gently take her in my arms and tell her that it's okay to be mad, but that hitting makes owies and hurts our bodies. I reassure her by telling her that I will help her if she needs it.

My older daughter is almost four and she's pretty much outgrown the behavior. (She did it once recently when she didn't want to share a toy.) I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but still. It's so weird to see your child hit herself.

Did your toddlers do this? We're you equally shocked the first time you saw it happen?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.