My 2-Year-Old Punched Me In the Face

My 2-Year-Old PUNCHED ME in the Face //

Ever experienced the outplay of a two-year-old’s punch to the face?

As a mom of 7, I’ve experienced some version of it, several times over. One little boy, many moons ago, slapped me in the middle of a Hobby Lobby trip. Several have yelled “no” at me.

And this happened almost a year ago:

It was a right hook, and he did it without a scream or anything. Just an angry, introverted little punch to the side of my glasses, right by my eye. He wanted me to give him one of the in-shell peanuts all the other kids were eating at lunch. But my answer was “no.”

It took me by surprise for sure! I’ve been slapped, or had kids try and hit me, but never a quiet, on-purpose PUNCH.

Didn’t hurt (which was nice)– but I promptly took him up to his room, talked to him about “never hitting mama,” disciplined him, and the message definitely got through. He cried, said sorry (at my prompting), hugged me, and changed his attitude before we came back down to the table.

AND. For context: I was shaky and hungry (hangry?) because I’d waited too long to start lunch, and my hands were literally shaking as I was slicing cheese, putting my sandwich together, etc. I was on my third day of a sore throat, have snot coming out in several places because of a cold (I guess?), tired because of cleaning non-stop for days, because my mom was about to fly into town. When it happened I was also 39 weeks, 6 days pregnant, having contractions– hormonal and tired.

My point?

Sometimes stuff like this happens to all of us at what seems like “couldn’t be a worse time.”

I’m sharing this little incident to encourage you.

Sometimes I’ve gotten comments that imply that because our older children are well-behaved, that we have “easy” kids, or that they’re somehow more naturally pleasant and kinder, sweeter, or not as stubborn and sinful as other people’s kids.

Please take this vignette as encouragement. Stuff like this happens to all of us– it really does!

No one gets non-sinners for children.

But, no matter the situation, when your “mommy radar” goes off, it’s worth it to get up, deal with it rightly, to discipline promptly, and to keep guiding them toward the way they should go. It’s worth it to keep them close. It’s worth it to be more stubborn than they are.

Mama, don’t lose heart! It’s worth it to give prompt, consistent, loving discipline.

And today?

Today my little almost-3-year-old wouldn’t DREAM of hitting me. We snuggle. We laugh. He listens to my voice, obeys promptly (most of the time), and is growing in self-control.

Keep on keeping on in the quest to correct, train, and lovingly, diligently discipline these wonderful & sinful little people God has entrusted to you. smile It is worth it.


IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE: Have you ever been punched by a 2-year-old? How do you stay motivated to raise WELL-DISCIPLINED little people? 

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast ( I write and wrangle kids.

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6 Responses

  1. Hannah says:

    Hi jess can I ask a question about what you referred to a ‘disciplining him’ after he hit you. Am I right in assuming that was a smack (as we call it in the UK)? We use smacking as means of discipline with our 3 year old which we started when he was about 2.5 but it has thankfully been very effective and we only have to use it infrequently. Now his younger sister is 20 months and is starting to need some more intensive ‘training’ as she starts to really exert her will but is too young to understand much in the way of ‘consequence’ or time out etc. she loves to thwack her legs on me when i change her nappy but this has to stop as a!) she needs to learn not to kick people even in fun and b) I’m pregnant so it needs to stop NOW. She thinks me holding her legs and saying no is funny and so has started doing it deliberately. Had to resort to a light smack to make my point which works but I’m conflicted about using a smack to teach that it is not ok to hit/kick. Obviously they are two very different things but SHE doesn’t understand that! Sorry for rambling post but just wondered what your thoughts were?

    • Jess Connell says:

      I think the situation you describe could be an appropriate response. I personally try to use facial expressions and vocal inflections to help communicate displeasure if a child tries to laugh off my corrections. And give praise and smiles and kind expressions for the right response at the changing table. Train your child about how she should lay. Help her know not just what not to do, but what you want her to do.

      Diaper changes are often a time when the child tries to see if they can do their own thing rather than laying still and submitting to mom. Teaching them to lay still, perhaps holding a toy or holding the diaper, while you change them, is a reasonable and right early battle to take on.

      I do not have a problem with using any disciplinary means to teach a particular behavior/response.

      (Put plainly, the classic criticism, “spanking teaches a child to hit to get his way” is hogwash. Bologna. Nonsense. We don’t say, “jail time teaches citizens to lock each other up.” Or “getting a speeding ticket causes drivers to fine each other when they get mad.” No. Painful consequences given for wrong actions serve as a deterring force against future misbehavior. Our kids understand more than we think. Yes a spanking makes a child mad in the same way that no one likes to get a speeding ticket.)

      A spanking, hand squeeze, smack, or “tight hold” like some parents practice is a physically uncomfortable, mildly painful external reminder that a child needs to internally exercise self-control next time they find themselves at that same behavioral fork in the road.

      Look to the laws of your land to know what is acceptable, and then use the means at your disposal as a parent in order to effectively, consistently train your children toward peaceful and righteous behavior (that’s the Hebrews 12 indicators for what makes discipline). Once you know that your child understands, which is almost always before 2-years-old for basic interactions like hitting, screaming, fits, and the like, discipline your child toward peaceful, right behavior.

      • Heather says:

        Jess, I love what you mentioned about Hebrews 12 as an indicator of what discipline is. Can you elaborate? Or do you have a post already elaborating on that? I have 4 girls, 8 years old down to 8 months. Needless to say discipline looks different, in some ways, for each child. My 8 year old is reaching new territory, and it’s hard. Just hard. But I love that we can look to the eternal Word of God for the general principles of discipline (discipling!). Just need some help an encouragement lately!!

        • Jess Connell says:

          I have a podcast on this question coming out in the next month or so ( ) but for now read Hebrews 12:5-11 over and over and over. Try to list out as many truths and observations as you can about the relationship between parents and discipline, and the relationship between pain and discipline.

          Essentially, loving parents discipline. And fruitful discipline always is painful. But it yields particular fruit: peace and righteousness.

          So whatever you are doing for discipline can be evaluated by those elements.
          1- Is it painful?
          2- Is it yielding peace and righteousness?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m struggling with my 15, almost 16 month old! He likes to try hit me, pull my hair, etc when he doesn’t get what he wants or something…mostly when he is tired (I make sleep a priority, bUT sometimes life happens). He knows he isn’t supposed to but I don’t know how to get through to him that he can’t do it. Ever. I’m trying valiantly to nip it in the bud but feel like I must be missing something.

  3. Jess Connell says:

    Hi anonymous– Start here:

    Consistency is the key. Every single time. Sometimes I think we can second guess ourselves because we don’t realize how MANY times we will have to consistently, repetitively deal with the same thing over and over. Keep going. Don’t let him get away with rudeness.

    In the post above, I talk about hand squeezes. As your child gets older and more aggressive, the pain level of your response will slowly increase. So at your child’s age, a strong hand squeeze with a firm “no-NO” would probably be the way to go.

    If it continues, isolation (2-3 minutes) in a toy-free crib, with the lights on, can sometimes be an effective response to communicate to this aged child, “you may not continue to interact with mom that way.”

    Hope this helps.

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