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Sarah James

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An avid blogger, Sarah James can be found regularly contributing her musings on style, beauty and parenting at her personal blog,, and has been featured on several television shows and print publications. She lives in Southern California with her husband, 6-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.

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My One-Year-Old Beats Me Up

By Sarah James |

Earlier this week, while holding Wita in the grocery line, a sweet, elderly woman approached to complement her. Wita performed her usual head tilt and shy smile combo, and as I was thanking the woman and mentioning that yes, she was a sweet baby indeed (lie), WHACK. Chubby baby hand straight up in my mug, and credibility failure to the max.

It seems Wita is a hitter, y’all. And I am at a loss. Look at this face! Does this face look like one of a sadist to you??

I certainly don’t think so, but unfortunately, the girl is a huge fan of smacking unsuspecting family members upside the head. To complicate matters, the whole hitting issue is completely new to me; Wito just turned 5 years old and hasn’t laid a finger on me (or anyone, for that matter) his entire life. How is it that I have a 13-month-old on the warpath? What have I done differently with her? These questions bounce around in my head while I’m icing down my swollen cheekbone.

I guess it’s as good a time as any to confess being a judgy judgmental mom in regards to hitting in the past. Whenever I attended playdates or took my sweet, non-hitting son to the park, I wondered about those kids throwing mini-slaps around. Surely SOMETHING was going on in their family environment. Babies aren’t just wired to hit…they have to learn it from somewhere, right?

OH, WAS I WRONG. (And I’m offering a formal apology to all the parents that received a subconscious eyeroll from yours truly.) Wita hasn’t been around any hitting/slapping/etc, yet she’s been doing it since she was about 7 months old. What gives? A pediatrician recently told me that toddler hitting is one of the very first signs of Type A behavior. (I have NO idea where she might have inherited this trait. Really, I don’t! Let me make you a bulleted list of all the reasons why!) Have you heard of this Type A toddler hitting theory? Do you have a young hitter? What about siblings, where one hits and the other doesn’t? How do you deal? THE QUESTIONS. Please enlighten (or at least commiserate with) me.



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About Sarah James


Sarah James

An avid blogger, Sarah James can be found regularly contributing her musings on style, beauty and parenting at her personal blog,, and has been featured on several television shows and print publications. She lives in Southern California with her husband, 6-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sarah's latest posts →

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17 thoughts on “My One-Year-Old Beats Me Up

  1. the grumbles says:

    oh BOY do i have a young hitter! and, like you, there is absolutely no hitting or other nonsense going on in our house that he could have picked it up from. some kids just do. i’ve found it particularly hard to deal with because we’ll work on it (nice hands, blah blah blah) and we’ll have a few great WEEKS with no hitting and then BAM it’s back again. so, you have that to look forward to.

  2. jenny says:

    I’m sure you once rolled your eyes at my darling daughter who was a fist thrower! It sucks when you have a babe who hits because one, it hurts, and two, there is that belief out there that it has something to do with the parenting/home environment. You are the target for lots of mom judging. My pediatrician proclaimed, “Well if she isn’t hitting she just might be a biter, screamer, kicker, or pincher. It’s developmental and quite normal. A lack of language to communicate can be frustrating. She’s communicating something to you.” So there’s not a pill to give her to make her stop bitch slapping me and other kids?!

    I took the only parenting advice my mom has ever given me: BE CONSISTENT. I was consistent disciplining her for hitting, I was consistent in how I reacted when she hit, I was consistent reading her the book “Hands Are Not for Hitting”, and I was consistent teaching her what it means to be gentle (I also heard if you have a pet cat that they are a great way to teach what being gentle means to a babe). It paid off, in time, and that trusty old saying of “This too shall pass” became a reality. Hang in there, I feel your (physical/mental/emotional) pain on this one.

  3. Calee says:

    Everyone has told us the hitting is just one of the many differences between having a calm, sweet (ha!) 4-yr old girl and a ferocious little boy. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe the put something in the water when we were pregnant?

  4. Torrie Sessions says:

    I had a biter-turned hitter! And at 8 (yes- 8!) her tendency (when angry at her older brother) is STILL to hit (despite punishment, behavior talks…)! Same here as far as my firstborn not having any of these tendencies whatsoever.

    That is an interesting theory regarding the ‘type A’ because she is most definitely a type A person. A list-maker to the 10th degree. She plans playdates like no other. She organizes. You name it.

    How did we deal? When she hit or bit, we’d turn all of our attention to the ‘victim,’ asking, “Are you okay??” and other empathetic expressions. This was extremely effective.

    {so happy you’re here now Sarah!!}

  5. tamara says:

    Oh! My son hits me (only me, go figure) when he is happy to see me! He is 10.5 months old and wow do i take a beating when i pop into his room first thing in the morning! When i pick him up out of his crib for the first time that day, or when i pick him up from day care, or when i give him a hug after being away from him for longer than an hour, I get flogged by his little hands. Smacked and thwacked about the head and collar bone. … I am also quite the Type A Mama, so maybe there is truth to the theory and my little angel is going to be organizing his toys by color and size in no time (one can dream). In the mean time, where is my ice pack?

  6. Sarah James says:

    Agreed on all fronts, ladies. (Even the happy hitting, Tamara! I feel like Wita hits me the most when she’s excited.)

    I’m hoping (okay, praying) that when she’s able to communicate verbally, the hitting will subside.

  7. HollyLynne says:

    My 15 month old hits me too! He does it as a game . . . I’m trying to break him of the habit, and teach him nice (which works for about 3 face pats then we’re back to WHAMMO). SIGH.

  8. Sarah says:

    Oh God, I’m glad it’s not just my kid. Although, in our case, the hitting started AFTER he became verbal. Go figure. He hits me when he’s impatient for a meal, when he’s getting his diaper changed…I’ve tried everything — ‘nice hands’, put your hands down, no hitting, holding his hands down (very firmly), time out, you name it. I’m just praying it’s a phase that will pass. Till then, I’ll comfort myself with the thought that maybe he’ll be very neat and orderly when he’s older.

  9. Jessica says:

    Well, my 6 month old smacks my breast (open palm) while she is nursing. It is so weird. It makes me laugh because it’s like a demonstration of her intensity, but I am glad that she is tiny so it doesn’t hurt. She’s just very grabby in general as well. She likes to grab my nose and mouth in an effort (I think) to put them in her mouth. I think it’s because she’s trying to be affectionate, but then those little claws can be painful!

  10. Alecia says:

    Ohhhhhh boy can I relate! My 14 month old is a hitter when he gets angry or frustrated and he can really knock the heck out of me! It is pretty embarrassing when it’s out in public. I’m in shock too because he’s my 3RD kid! My first two (girls) never did this at all, so it’s completely new to me. I was writing it off at first as just a “boy” thing for him, but it looks like it may just be more of a temperament thing.

    Oh, and uh, is Wita also a boob grabber? Do they go hand in hand? Again, the first time I’ve experienced it to this level, but my son will not leave my boobs along and he’s been weaned for 7 months now! …

  11. Sarah James says:

    Alecia, she’s not a boob-grabber, but she loves to grab any and all things on my head!

  12. Mom of Teens says:

    Maybe I’m “old-school” but one of my son’s was a hitter and my daughter was a biter. I don’t believe that kids have the reasoning ability to know when you tell them it hurts because it isn’t hurting them to do it. My son got a light slap from me once after he slapped me. It was hard enough to feel but not hard enough to harm and he started to cry because he was shocked. I asked him if it hurt and he shook his little head yes. I told him that’s how mommy feels when he hit me. He didn’t hit again. Same with my daughter, the biter and thumb sucker (orally obsessed???). I bit her after she bit me and broke my skin! I grabbed her arm and bit her until she pulled away. Explained the same to her. She then had a frame of reference. You cannot reason with a 1-3 year old (or even an 18 year old about the go to college–sigh), but you can show them what you mean. Just don’t hurt them and be the parent. My boys are now 16 and 18 and over 6’2″ tall and they still know who’s the boss because they were raised that way. Don’t be their friends, be their parent.

  13. Catherine Connors says:


    Jasper is three. He is still doing this. It is currently my biggest parenting challenge. I feel a little better knowing that I’m not alone, but, really, only just a very little. Will be following this comment thread very, very closely.

  14. [...] right in with the question I ask myself (and unsuspecting, innocent bystanders) on a daily basis. WHY DOES MY ONE-YEAR-OLD BEAT ME UP? What did I do to deserve this fate? HUH? Tell me now, pray [...]

  15. lauren perry says:

    my baby is 10 months and sure enough, shes been smacking the crap out of everything from her food to my face since around 7 months. And I totally knew she was a Type A before this article this girl is bossy! Haha! Peace & love xo

  16. denise mcentee says:

    I just read this- WAY late, but OMG. I remember vividly when my son (2nd born) started hitting – he was 9 months. He is now 4 1/2 and only now finally has pretty much stopped (though he did bite his brother the other day). This totally described me, the shock of being a parent of a hitter. NOTHING worked really until he was old enough to ‘get it’ really. But it will pass. I’m not sure if he’s type A – that’s interesting. His brother totally is- and is not a hitter. He’s more of a rule follower than type A (brother) I guess- which i think is a distinction. It is possible the (ex) hitter is type A- I can see how it might be as he’s very precise about some little things. It may show itself more as he gets older. So relieved to hear similar stories after all these years!

  17. Polivio says:

    Dear Sarah Plain,I admire you as a Christian woman eedalr and I am committed to pray for your coming debates! We live in a very unrespectful time; people do not tolerate your STAR appearance, you are not only a smart women, mother, governor, but good looking too. They do not understand you did not ask for it you just get it. You become a star in the political arena therefore many people is ready to ridicule you and destroy your spirit.As a doctor scientist I had to endure as a minority in an Ivy League University, the liberal tactic, recipe to hurt did not change! I did ,while cherished my marriage and the gift to be a mother of two terrific children, I endured and now I am a respected physician despite of the prediction of my boss.I know God is with you .Do not listen any of the negative vibration! We, the woman can take it and feel sorry for those, who do not understand the big picture. I am praying for your success during the Vice Presidential debate.Respectfully, Zsuzsanna Seybold MD.

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