D.N. asks from Aurora, IL on August 12, 2012
2 YO Boy Hitting
Hey Moms! I am writing for my sister who has a 2 YO boy who finds discipline to be a fun game - for him. He doesn't communicate super well and just started speech therapy. I feel that his inability to get his message across manifests itself in his use of screaming to talk. He is an active boy who is starting to push his boundaries - which is normal. However, my girls never ventured into this realm of misbehaving so I am at a loss as to how to help my sister. If he is doing something inappropriate, like hitting his parents out of frustration or because he thinks it is a game, nothing my sister or my BIL do seems to work. Their disciplining him is a game to him. He does something like smacking the lamp shades and he gets reprimanded and they remove him from being near the lamps so he hits them. They don't want to hit back because that is what they are trying to get him to stop doing. Needless to say my sister is at her wits end. I sent her an article on the proper use of timeouts but she hasn't started anything yet because she knows consistency is key and she isn't sure how to start. When he is at daycare none of these behaviors occur. Any moms of toddler boys who had similar issues and how did you start curbing this behavior? Thanks in advance.
F.H. answers from Phoenix on August 12, 2012
When my kids were this age, I would just redirect them and get their attention on something else. You know, like point out the window and say, "oh, look at the birdy" or something like that. As well as telling them "no hitting mommy". I don't remember at that age any kind of "discipline" that would work. Their vocabulary is limited as well as their understanding. I hope some that have young kids now (mine are 12 and 9) will have some good suggestions for you. Good luck!
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B.G. answers from Springfield on August 12, 2012
This is absolutely normal! Most kids have these frustrations. They simply can't put into words all the frustrations their feeling.
What really worked for me was getting down on his level and saying, "You're really mad. You're mad because Mommy won't let you hit the lamp shades. You really wanted to hit the lamp shades, didn't you? It really makes you mad when Mommy won't let you do something."
I didn't always have to do that much talking. It's just really important to name the emotion and the reason for the emotion (no hitting lamp shades). After a sentence or two I would usually have the pouty lip and a nodding little boy saying, "Uh huh." That's when I redirected. "How about we play with this car over here. Does that sound like fun?"
Even toddlers that are not speech delayed have trouble communicating what they are feeling. Often times they don't really know why they are upset. It is even tougher for a child with a speech delay.
My 3 1/2 year old has been in speech for about a year. He has improved so much!!! It truly is amazing. He is still so young and can have trouble with disappointment. Heck, I'm 40, and I have trouble with disappointment.
Empathy. Naming the emotion. Redirection. Lots and lots of patience. He'll get past this!
D.. answers from Charlotte on August 12, 2012
Working hard at home on his speech at-home program will help. I hope your sister is observing the speech lessons with the therapist so that she can do it. Twice a day speech work - twice a day. It's THAT important.
The therapist will probably teach his "ep me". (That's "help me".) When he learns to say it and why to say it, it will help him be much less frustrated. While he is learning to use words, when he starts fighting and losing his patience, she should get face to face with him and say "Use your words. Tell mommy what you want." Maybe he'll say "ep me". If she knows what it is he wants and can help him, it will make a big difference. If she doesn't know, she can then say "show me".
It's important that he feels that he is being heard. It is also important to stop him from hitting others. She should take his hands into her hands and hold them tight so that he cannot get away - he won't like it - and tell him "We don't hit mommy. Hands are for helping, not hurting." And she should hold onto him until he listens to her words. Then she can let go. If he hits again, she should do it again for a little longer. If he starts having a tantrum, she should put him in a playpen and walk out the door so that he cannot see her. Time out probably won't help this young - I'd restrain him in the playpen instead.
The reason he doesn't do any of this in daycare, D., is because they consistently give consequences for poor behavior. He doesn't feel like he has boundaries at home. That's the problem.
Hope this helps your sister.
A.M. answers from Kansas City on August 13, 2012
at 2 it's a tricky age because she needs to ensure he knows what he's doing isn't allowed. if that is the case, then yes, time outs will work. supernanny.com is a great place to see "real" time outs working. it sounds to me like he's ready. good luck to her!
C.B. answers from San Francisco on August 13, 2012
He thinks it's fun and games because they are not being serious or stern enough. He doesn't do it at daycare because at daycare they mean business and he knows it! He's already got their number!
When he goes to hit them, they need to immediately grab his arm and stop him from hitting them. Then, with his arm still in their grasp, they need to look him directly in the eyes with their most stern look and tell him in their most stern voice "You do not hit mommy/daddy. You NEVER hit mommy or daddy, not even playing. I mean NEVER." If you are stern enough, they get the point. But any break in the eye contact or any feeling sorry for the LO, he will catch that and your authority is compromised.
I firmly believe that a child who hits a parent and gets away with it, will hit that parent when they get older. I don't play with this at ALL.