Help... 15 Month Old Very Aggressive

Updated on April 06, 2009
R.S. asks from Vancouver, WA
13 answers

My 15 month old son has been biting, pinching, hitting and kicking. When I try to tell him "that hurts" and "no" he laughs. I've tried telling him "no" sternly and turning my back to him and giving whomever he has hurt a lot of attention.. "I'm so sorry he hurt you" but he just thinks its all fun. It's very frustrating that he isn't getting it and its getting worse, he's biting, hitting, etc. harder. He also has been doing this with our family dog and I'm scared he's going to hurt her and she'll snap at him, she is a great dane so she could really hurt him. I don't take my eyes off of him, but things can happen so quickly. What should I do!?!

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So What Happened?

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for all the advice. My husband and I decided to try time-outs first. I thought he was too young to understand. But we've been putting him in his playpen for about 1-2 minutes every time he hits, bites, kicks, pinches for a couple of days now. I think he's getting it! yay! I even asked him when he started to try and hit me this morning if he wanted to go in "time-out" and he shook his head no! I am so happy this seems to be working, thank you so much for the suggestions. I know every child is different so its nice to have found what works for him! thanks! now on to the next problem.. sleeping through the night! haha

More Answers


answers from Portland on

Hi R.,

My heart goes out to you. It's no fun dealing with a bully even if they are only 15 months old. Male or female some little ones are harder to train than others. You can talk to them and try to reason with then until you are blue in the face with no results. I have been there and have done that (23 yrs ago) This is where the quote "Actions speak louder than words." comes in to play.

A dog has far more patients with little ones than you can imagine and your right they do have their limits. Since you have a dog, then you probably know that a dog naturally will nip and growl at their pups (or kids) if they're being unruly and biting. There is always a risk, Kids like pups need training :-)

Like a momma dog you may have to train him on a level he can comprehend (beat him at his own game). Biting him in the same place he bites, or pinching when he pinches...just hard enough to make it hurt (usually does not take much). You can tell what is hard enough by his facial expressions. Then you tell him ouch "that hurts" "no biting" "no pinching" etc.

Sometimes they only way they learn is by experiencing those painful feelings personally. Be sure to back up your actions by disciplining him with a time out. He needs to learn its not a game, not fun and not allowed.

Good Luck, getting a handle on it now will save you many years of grief down the road.

I. "herbaliva"
(mother of a aggressive female child)

P.S. Chamomile is a calming herb/flower than helps settle kids down.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I would start giving him a consequence for his action. I would tell him No sternly and then put him in a "time out" for 1 minute. When he bites your dog, tell him NO we don't bite "name of dog" we give her love and show him how to pet her and give her a hug. I know I will get a lot of boos on this one, but if it really continues to become a problem, bite him back so he see how it feels. I would only do this as a last result, but my cousin's daughter would not stop biting no matter what and she did this and she never bit again.
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My son was on the recieving end of numerous bites from one child. I was incredibly frustrated to see bite marks that turned to bruises on my son. The mother of the boy who was biting tried, redirecting, time outs, giving all the attention to my son, etc. The thing that finally stopped it was when she bit him and showed him what if felt like. Then he realized that it wasn't fun but that it actually hurt. I don't think he realized how much pain he caused, he was just playing. Once he knew about the pain part of it he stopped.

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answers from Medford on

I agree with Linda. Each child is different, and different things work for them. But one thing is for sure, no child likes pain. I'm not talking about leave a mark abusive pain...but that flick stings, and they don't like it. If they don't want to get a flick, they won't hit/bite/pinch...whatever it is they're doing to get the flick will stop. I have a 5 year old with special needs, and quite honestly, corporal forms of discipline are the only things that work with her. We could do time out's all day long and they don't do any good...neither does removing toys. We ran out of places to put toys when we were trying this one. We also have a 2.5 year advanced child, and she's the same way. A flick or a swat does the trick when a timeout is worthless!

Good luck!!



answers from Seattle on

Maybe switch tactics and just tell him "no" sternly and let that be the end of it. My daughter has a doll stroller that she uses to run over our siberian husky and after we see her do it or start to, we tell her that if she runs over the dog, the stroller goes away. It works pretty well and she's running over the dog a lot less lately. If the stroller is taken away, we find something else to do immediately such as read a book or play with a different toy. I find that the more attention I give her undesirable behaviors, the more she does them. Acknowledge, correct, and move on! :) Good luck!!



answers from Portland on

Hi, we are going through the biting and hitting also right now. What seems to be working for us is using timeout for one minute at a time (since our child is also 15M) Each time he bites or hits he get one warning "if you bite/hit me one more time you will go into timeout"...if he bites or hits again he goes straight into time out. I have chosen a spot that is the consistent timeout spot for that room. If he tries to walk away from that spot I put him right back (at first i had to keep moving him back to the spot until he learned to stay put). Also, we had one situation where he hit me with a toy and it really that situation I explained that he really hurt me and he lost the privilege of that toy for the rest of the night. If it would have continued to not understand the severity of the matter I would have had no problem to continue removing toys. Currently, if he hits or bites I warm him that he will go into timeout and he stops. He's not perfect but is most certainly has learned. Also, I worry where this aggression is coming from and wonder if he is not getting enough one on one I am working on that too by spending more quality time with him.

Hope this helps and good luck!


answers from Seattle on

My son was doing this (and laughing) around the same time too... Part of it I think is a stage. We wanted to nip it in the butt right away b/c he was beginning to do it at Daycare. What we did to help eliminate this behavior was Daddy had to stop playing rough with him for awhile until he could understand the difference of playing and who he can play rough with versus who he cant. We got on the same page with Daycare (Starbright is excellent!) and within a short time period, it stopped. Remove him from the situation, be stern, tell him that "biting/hitting is bad and it hurts!" tell him hes going on time out. Grab him up right away when it happens and put him in his room on his bed or in the corner and leave immediately with the door shut/cracked. (Assuming there is nothing in his room that he can hurt himself) He will quickly see that what he is doing is wrong, but you have to make sure you do it immediately when he has this behavior. It never took more than a minute for my son to get upset, realise he did wrong and come out to hug me and tell me he's sorry. I stand outside his door and wait for him to come out and then we have a little talk and I retell him that what he did was bad and ask him if hes sorry, he nodds and hugs me and says sorry. I tell him thank you for apologizing how big of a boy he is for understanding. Everything is okay, he is reassured, and we go back to good behavior! Do this a couple times and he will learn! This method still works great to this day even when he needs an attitude adjustment (my son just turned two last week!), it'll break your little heart to see him get so upset, but stick to your guns and he will learn sooner then later!
I should add that my son had bit 3 times in the matter of 2 weeks, and doing this he has not bitten a child since!



answers from Seattle on

My daughter is about 19 months old, and finally outgrowing this stage, i hope.

She started out by biting me. What seems to have worked to curb that is that i immediately put her down, turn around, and walk away. (I used to use time outs, but, this is easier, more effective, and seems to focus on my decision not to be bit, which appeals to me.)

With her friend we either let them sort it out themselves (for some pushing, hair pulling, whatever), or have the aggressor take a time out. Sometimes we can catch them pre-act, and remind them to stop and they do. The other day I put my daughter into time out, and said that what would make it better would be to give her friend a kiss and say 'i'm sorry'. (She can give the kiss, but can't actually say the words. But, i'm trying to set up the idea of making it up to the one you wronged here.) She chose to sit in time out for quite a while, crying and fussing. Then, eventually, she got up, gave her friend a kiss, and they moved on. It seemed to be successful. (And we have had no further biting incidents this week.)

I actually did try biting her once. But aside from making me feel horrible for doing something i really want to teach her is wrong, it also didn't work. I understand the theory there, but it didn't work for us.

Something that made it easier for us is that my daughter's friend is a couple of months older, and went through this phase a bit earlier. It helps that her parents understand, and also that we really do seem to be seeing a phase of behavior. We can all be on the same page of treating respect for friends, but not take things too personally.

(Btw, for pets... i feel your pain there, too. We have a dog, who my daughter adores. We always make sure that the dog can get away if he wants to. Our dog will put up with an awful lot before leaving, but, he hasn't turned aggressive at all because he can always extract himself. It has taken some time, there, too, but by supervising all interaction, removing our daughter entirely if she is doing something inappropriate, and practicing good 'gentle' petting they are getting more and more reliable together. My guess is that, if your dog is not naturally a snapper, you can work that system, too. If your dog is a bit more skittish, maybe its better to separate them unless you can be there and vigilant?)


answers from Seattle on

It is time to take him out of the room when he bites, hits, kicks, etc. When you do, stay very calm, (I know it is hard) and say you may not "....." Do this each time he does the miss behavior. He will at first laugh... but don't have any emotion.

If you keep doing this, he will get frustrated and then he will get mad. So he might throw temper tantrums. Keep calm and keep putting him in his room. Keep telling him that this is what happens when you ".....".

It will take a while, but don't give up. Start this when you can be home for two or three days, maybe just before a weekend when your husband can help out.

Good luck and good patience.



answers from Seattle on

I feel your pain! My daughter who is 2 1/2 was the same way. It started early around 9 months with the biting... It was so frustrating for me and I think she did it out of frustration and part of teething. I think the nap idea was a great one. I didn't do that but I always calmly put her in her crib or a pack and play when she did it (more for a time out for me!). I think the key is to remain calm in your reaction because I think sometimes they are just going for the reaction/attention. She outgrew it but it was a very trying time. Good luck.



answers from Seattle on

Oh, dear - this sounds like a bright little boy who has figured out how to get your 100% attention any time he wants it -- and that's what he's doing. My suggestion may sound harsh- but every first time he hits - WHOEVER - - oh, you're tired- you need a nap -''' - and put him to bed- 3 minute ''nap ''' every time--- you'll be exhaousted --- BUT after a day or so - he's going to find that listening to you and his big brother playing and laughing is not so cool- he'd rather be there




answers from Portland on

Hi R.,

I just thought I'd respond because my son was the same way and has grown out of that phase and I have a wonderful 2 1/2 year old.

I used to watch another child and when she would get dropped off, he would try to pinch and scratch her face. On his 15 month birthday I thought I had lost my sweet baby replaced by a toddler that seemed to need therapy. He would bite my arms or other kids if he got frustrated. Although everything I read said it was normal, I found it very disturbing. My husband and I are not aggressive people and very even tempered, so I couldn't figure out where it was coming from.

I started time outs on his 2nd birthday which really seemed to help. The book "1-2-3 Magic" is great for learning how to administer them effectively. Also, as his language skills progressed things got much better. I also got him into gymnastics to help get out energy and focus him a bit.

Anyway, he will grow out of it. Get the book "Teeth are not for Biting" to read at bedtime. Now Donovan reads it and tells the biters "NO".

I hope this helps, I know how hard it is to have an aggressive toddler and have people look at you like it's your fault. Just stay consistent and firm and ride out the storm. BTW, mine is even good with the pets now.

Good luck,



answers from Portland on

Hi R.,

Tough problem! But now is the time to get a handle on this. Withdrawing the baby from whatever or whoever he is enjoying hurting and placing him in a safe place alone for a short while may help if you do it every time and can make him understand it is related to how he hurt someone or an animal. But I don't think there is much you can substitute for a small pain when he hurts others. You can flick his hand with your finger when he pinches or near his mouth if he bites with a firm "no--you may not hit", or "you may not bite". It shouldn't take much for him to get the idea that giving pain results in getting pain--a good true to life lesson. At this age I'm sure he doesn't even understand how it feels to someone else, he just likes the reaction it gets. But he needs to begin to learn that too and that little flick can help him with that. This works for my daughter in dealing with her 3 sons and 1 daughter. They are 8, 6, 4 and 2.

Hope it helps!


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