H.S. asks from Valparaiso, IN on May 29, 2008
Help! 18 Month Old Hitting, Pinching and Kicking!
Good morning! Over the last three weeks my daughter has had an increase in her hitting, pinching, and kicking behavior. Previously we had extinguished her hitting behavior when she was 10 months old by simply putting her down when she hit and the problem behavior resolved itself in a very short amount of time. Then about a month ago her main teacher at school asked me if she had been testing limits at home. I stated that she had not done that in many months. Then, about a week later she began hitting, pinching and kicking at home too! We have been using time out, but I am uncertain if she is making the connection...unacceptable behavior=timeout because of the delay in actually putting her in "the designated spot." The other concern is how many times do you put her back in time out once she has moved since the time out is only supposed to be for 2 minutes or less? This weekend she hit me so hard that I wanted to start crying and our poor 8 pound dog is tired of being tortured as well! Most of the time she is a very agreeable little gal, but the hitting, kicking, pinching and biting is wearing on my soul. Help!
C.K. answers from Chicago on May 29, 2008
Every parent has to develop their own style of discipline as what works for one, may not work for others, and what some find to be cruel, or too early, may be right on target with others. Sometimes you have to be creative, or outside the box to suit yours and your family's needs. Also only you know your own kid, and know if they're ready for a time-out.
That said, I started time-outs with my son at 18 months old. I too felt the lag time in taking him to the chair was not getting my point across effectively. So, and I hate to announce it, I made him sit right where he was when the action occurred (yes much like training a dog, sadly) and would have him sit down for the full minute or however long it took to get him to calm down. After about a week I moved him to the chair, and after a week of taking him there, all I had to do was say "time out" and he would go on his own. He sees the dogs being disciplined in this manner, and connected that he was in trouble when told to "sit down...time out" as well.
He's now 20 months and finally does not move from the chair unless given permission, he also gives his punisher a hug and kiss, and we are currently working on saying "I'm Sorry" once released. Granted my son has a very broad vocabulary and is already speaking in 3 word sentences, so I know that he can communicate his frustrations verbally rather than physically.
Whenever he moved from the time out position (chair or floor) I started the time all over again till he stayed put. At first though I did hold his hips down when he sat and said(still say) "all done" when the time is up. I was told to put him in his room by family, though I personally didn't want him connecting his room with punishment, but wanted to leave that space as chosen alone time (a personal sanctuary if you will), which he happily enjoys daily.
Hurting mom, and others, dogs included, is unacceptable, and they have to learn not to do it. Just saying "no" firmly doesn't always work for every child, and as they get bigger, they get stronger and it hurts worse. A friend of mine tried the just say no approach and now her three year old hits because she is trying to hurt you as much as you have hurt her feelings. It feels like a ton of bricks, and no one wants to have play dates with them anymore because she's nasty when frustrated.
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L.M. answers from Chicago on May 29, 2008
My son also went through a hitting phase. His lasted from shortly after he turned 2 until 2 1/2. I'm not exaggerating when I say that for those 5 months, he hit me almost every day. What I did each time was say, "No hitting," in a stern voice and put him immediately in time-out. I don't think that the few moments that it takes to put your daughter in the designated spot will result in any confusion on her part. And after the first time or two that you tell them "No hitting," they don't need warnings anymore; they KNOW it's wrong and can go immediately to time-out. And yes, it did take a long time, but it worked for us.
When you ask about how many times are you supposed to put her back in the time-out "after she moves," do you mean she is getting herself out of the time-out before you come get her? If so, I would put her in the playpen for a time-out if possible, or if not that, then you have to keep putting her back in the corner (or wherever you do it) until she stays in place for the full time-out. I know it's hard, but I think that's the only way she'll understand that what is happening is a punishment. Once my son outgrew that phase, he never hit again, and he's almost 4 now. This is a tough time for you, but persevere, and you'll all get through it!
L.K. answers from Chicago on May 29, 2008
The only thing that worked for me is constantly telling her no and showing her what to do(Nice doggy , we love our doggy like this, etc). make sure to give lots of praise when she treats the dog and other people well.At this age they don't know what is the right way and want to be shown how to do things.She needs constant attention and lots of misdirection.I kept my twins busy at that age by asking them to hand me something or do anything to praise them afterwards. They need lots of reinforcing of the good or appropriate behavior.
C.S. answers from Chicago on May 29, 2008
Normal behavior for 18 months. We're going through this too.
WAAAAAY too young for time outs. I don't think at this age they are testing limits. Just repeat "no- owie" and re-direct them.
If she hits you. Put her down and say "no owie"
J.P. answers from Chicago on May 29, 2008
I would say any hitting/kicking gets a timeout. They say 1 minute per age of child. Maybe you could do 1 1/2 minutes. I would put her in her room and shut the door (if it is child proof) for the 1 1/2 minutes. Just simply say, "no hitting" and go right to the bedroom. I tried not to put my guy in the crib b/c I didn't want him to associate the crib with timeout. I don't think she is too young for timeout and she is just being removed from the situation which is good for her and for your frustration level. I would especially do it if she hits the dog. Also know most toddlers go through this and it will end.
L.S. answers from Chicago on May 29, 2008
This is very typical behavior of 18 month old kids. It's a phase you have to get through and be firm with them now.
My 3 year old son did the same when he was that age. And for a special treat he has a very high pitched SCREAM that would drive me insane.
He even head butt me a few times...I had bruises on my face. Remember that they cannot talk so this is their way of communicating right now.
It's tough, but hang in there. When she turns two and starts talking more, it will get a little better. And then she will really understand what isn't acceptable. But will still test you til the end...that's what kids do.