Children Who Slap Faces And Other Fun Behaviors

(This is the tabloid edition of The Parenting Passageway today, you know, kind of like, Men Who Do Terrible Things And The Women Who Love Them or something like that…)

Let’s see…the fun behavior of the toddler…I am sure you all can help me out here with the behaviors and challenges!   Some of these  behaviors keep coming up over and over here when I asked for feedback regarding discipline challenges and also in My Real Life from mothers in my local area, so I thought I would address them here with a few suggestions and you can take what resonates with you.  Pick and choose, add your own creative ideas!  There is No One Answer, the Right Answer is the One That Works For Your Family!  Seriously!  As long as it is gentle and keeps to the boundary, then there you go!  Check out the toddler discipline posts under the Baby/Toddler header, several of those posts literally have every discipline situation that could come up with a toddler.

Here is a re-cap of some of the ones mothers have been asking about recently (but please do go look at the back posts!):


  • Set child down if you are holding them.
  • Turn it into a “high-five”
  • Tell the child that hurts and show them how you would like to be touched instead.
  • Watch out for signs child is getting frustrated in order to prevent  and use your tools of movement and channeling into work and help to move on
  • Know this phase is limited usually once the toddler  has more speech
  • Know this may take 500 times!
  • What would work best for your family?  Your ideas here:

Running away at the park or other public places:

  • Limit outings for right now. Sorry about that!
  • Bring a second adult who can help you corral your children
  • Many parents have a natural consequence in place, such as if you run away, we immediately leave the park.  However, a child younger than four and a half or five  may really not understand that very well.
  • Do errands at night or another time without the toddler.
  • Practice holding hands and looking for cars at all times.  Have a verse or rhyme that goes with the holding hands/looking.
  • What would work best for your family??  Your ideas here:

Child is stuck on a  “bad word”:

Sitting Still:

  • Figure about three to five minutes for every year of the child’s age, and really look  at your child.  Are they a “mature” acting three or four year old, or rather immature?  That will give you a clue as to what might be a realistic expectation.
  • Bring something with you to do for the small child.  Make up a special little “Sunday bag” for church, let them bring a stuffed animal or doll with them.
  • Practice times of sitting quietly at home for a story, thirty seconds before you light the candle for dinner, thirty second in silence after you say the blessing over the meal..
  • What would work best for your family?  Your ideas here:

Hitting, Kicking:

Ah, no one’s favorite.

  • You cannot let the child hurt you (or anyone else!).  If it is toward you, step away or hold the child if you can do it and be calm!  If the child is hitting someone else, they must come and be with you in a time-in.
  • Connect with this child during other times in a warm way.  Are they feeling poorly physically or emotionally?  This does not excuse the behavior, but provides a clue as to what they need!
  • If this is occurring during play dates and such, please think strongly about whether or not your small child needs this social experience at this point.  You can see my take on social experiences for the four year old in back posts, so you can guess what I think about toddlers from that….
  • Go back to your basics – rhythm, outside time, warm and nourishing meals.
  • If you need help dealing with hitting and kicking as part of a temper tantrum, please see here:
  • Here is a back post on boys and hitting:
  • What would work best for your family?  Your ideas here:


Also no one’s favorite.

  • If it is biting at the breast, pull the baby close to you – this will block their nose and make them loosen the biting.  However, GIVE them something they CAN bite on.  A wet washcloth that you threw in the freezer works fine.  Biting is a normal behavior, it is just the object that the child is biting that makes it good or not good, so you don’t want to tell them never to bite!  If they are biting at the breast and it is usually toward the end of a feeding, try to catch them before the end and gently  remove  them from  the breast.
  • If the biting is generally part of just being aggressive, try this outside resource regarding the types of biters and such:
  • Never bite a child for biting!  That does not help.
  • Remain as calm as possible.  It is no fun when your toddler or preschooler bites another child over a toy, and it is not fun when your child is the one who was bit, but these things do happen and one must be calm.
  • If your child is in a biting phase, think carefully about your child’s level of frustration with social outings.  🙂  If you frequently read this blog, you know where I stand on that!  The whole “playdate” thing really should not apply to children under the age of four and a half, but that is just my opinion.  🙂 Take what works for you and your family.

Hope these ideas help your family think of what would work best for you in these situations.

Many blessings,


8 thoughts on “Children Who Slap Faces And Other Fun Behaviors

  1. Oh gosh, I just love your blog! Thank you for writing this – it really helps me to structure my own thoughts on how to handle these sometimes hard issues. I will share your blog with other mamas next time somebody asks me for advice!

  2. This is good information. I didn’t realize my one year old son’s behaviors were this common.

    Unfortunately you don’t have a category for children who hover in the air two feet above the bed, while cursing in ancient Aramaic and growling and spitting…

    Just kidding. 😉

    One category I would like to see, is what to do with a child who screams extremely loudly and constantly, when demanding things.

  3. I guess we were pretty lucky with our little guy when he was at that age, we used these techniques you mention and he grasped all of these pretty quickly, one thing that is still an issue sometimes is getting carried away in the park or a large store, where he starts running around and it is harder to get his attention so he stays with us, but I think that has more to do with being overwhelmed with all the action around him.

    When our son started to do this, we used to tell him in a calm manner that we do not understand him when he screams and that it is not very nice to yell and that he should use his normal speaking voice. This really helped, after a couple of weeks he just stopped doing it. Now tantrums still do occur from time to time,….after all he is 5!


  4. Thank yo uso much for this advice. I have been having a hard time with face-slapping with my 19 month old. and scratching my face while nursing–this just started..
    I am so grateful tofind your blog! Thank you SO much for sharing all this wisdom.

  5. A quick addition to the running away category- avoid playing chasing games in general. This game often creates a child who will also run in unsafe places.

  6. Pingback: May Gentle Discipline Fair » The Road Less Traveled To Parenthood » Baby Dust Diaries

  7. Pingback: May Gentle Discipline Fair « Baby Dust Diaries

  8. My almost three year old keeps switching between kicking, biting, spitting, and throwing things.

    What helps me – and her – is thinking of these as “actions” than “behaviour”.
    It helps stay sane and redirect her energy.

    So if she’s kicking her father, or a toy, I’ll pick up her football take her outside and tell “we can only kick footballs”. And she’ll happily kick it all over the garden.
    Similarly, “we only spit in the basin, when we brush our teeth” – and I take her to the basin and give her the tooth-brush – no matter what time of day it is.
    And “we only bite food” and I give a carrot to chew on (she loves carrots so it helps!)
    And “we only throw balls – outside” – and I give her favourite soft ball and take her outside.

    So far it works – so much so that when she’s kicking – and she sees me picking up the football – she’ll stop kicking, and say “only kick football”.

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