There’ll be a time when you’ll suddenly realize that your baby has turned toddler. By then, you’ll have hopefully set up a proper framework to accept him into a much changed world, both for him, and for you. Because your baby is constantly changing, he’ll eventually become smarter and stronger. This can pose significant challenges to an unprepared parent.
If you don’t have a routine in place by now, this should be your number one priority. You should also consider what other rules are important to you. Will you let your toddler jump on the couch, throw balls in the house, run down the hall, write on the walls, refuse their vegetables and still get dessert, hit others to get what he wants, snack throughout the day, watch television, put off potty training, take part in various decisions like going outside to the park or playing in the backyard? That’s a big list and it’s just a part of what you and your spouse will have to come to terms with. If you’re not on the same page then your toddler will divide and conquer. When one parent says “no”, your toddler will go to the other and soon realize that he can manipulate his world to his benefit.
Best to make important decisions from an early point when your baby is still experimenting with his world to see what works. And what I mean by “what works” is your baby is trying to figure out what he can do to get the results he wants. If hitting gets him the stuff he wants, he’ll hit more. If hitting makes his world fall apart, he’ll stop. We, as a family, never tolerated hitting in our house. Like most babies, our son experimented with it several times. We made this bad habit into a very big deal even though we knew he was just trying to see what he could get away with. So while a slap might not hurt all that much coming from a 16 month-old, that’s not the point. Instead of laughing it off (bad move), you should pretend it really did hurt and treat it accordingly. You should make your toddler aware of his misdeed swiftly. Get on your toddlers level and tell them sternly by holding their hands that hitting is not permitted.
I remember Holden taking a swipe at my wife, he would regret this because I quickly grabbed him, move him to the side and sternly instructed him not to do it again. He got the point.
You don’t want to seem like a push-over when something important needs addressing. But also don’t feel like everything is a bid deal either. There must be some give and take – in other words, choose your battles wisely, and also the battles you do choose, win – at all costs. This is probably the single most important rule for parenting. Win all your battles. This makes future battles easier to wage and win. Trust your judgment, follow through, and always remain consistent – especially between parents. Never let your child divide and conquer, never allow for negotiation on serious issues, and never let a serious offense slip. Finally, be flexible with your child and allow him to be creative, to play and have fun and be a child. He’s going to make mistakes and sometimes things happen by accident. You want your child to be in control of his world. If he hits, he’s made a decision and has chosen the consequences. If on the other hand, he bumps into you by accident or falls into you, then this does not deserve punishment. If you punish on an accident, your child will feel powerless to control his world. This, in turn, makes his world seem random and will significantly affect his self-esteem.