22 answers

Help! My 18 Month Old Son Is Mean!

My youngest son is almost 18 months old and he is very physically aggressive. He hits, bites, pinches, pulls hair, and throws toys at people (mostly at me and my older son). I don't know what/if anything I can do. I have tried "redirecting" his attention. It does not work. He just laughs and goes right back to whatever he was doing. Can I give him time out? Does he even understand what he's doing? I have been injured several times by this child and am very frustrated.

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What can I do next?

Featured Answers

You bet you can give him a time-out. The key is do it in a calm, yet firm way.
Explain: This is the rule. You broke the rule. You go in time out.
Don't give him the reaction he is looking for by showing him he has upset you in any way. Yes, that is hard, but you need to, or it won't work.

I have been there. It is VERY frustrating because you don't know where on earth this behavior is coming from.


My daughter is 17 months and does similar things. She'll tackle her big brother, "bite" him while giving kisses, jump on us when we're laying on the floor. The list goes on and on.

When she was throwing toys we'd take them away telling her: no throw toy. She doesn't throw the toys anymore.

When she bites we flick her in the mouth and tell her: no biting. It's not a hard flick and doesn't leave a red mark, but it does get her attention.

When she's bothering her brother she usually gets to sit in a lap or placed in her room with the door mostly closed.

You can give a time out, but it's more about putting them in a different room than discipline (at least for us).

For the hitting, biting, pinching, and all that the best way to handle it is to firmly stop the negative behavior and firmly in the Mommy Voice say no bite/pinch/pull. If you're consistent when it happens and stop it from escalating it should stop soon.

Hope this helps,

More Answers

Without knowing too much about the situation, something immediately comes to mind. I taught preschool in a one year old room and have periodically encountered "mean" kids who demonstrate those same behaviors. I have often found that these kids are not really mean, just frustrated because of boredom. your son may be slightly developmentally ahead and need more stimulation from things you might ordinarily do with an older child. Try getting him engaged in things you might think are to "old" for him, such as using small pitchers to pour one colored food coloring tinted water with another and watching the mixture change colors, for example. if he is truly interested in his environment, he will manipulate, create, experiment, and discover rather than spend time throwing things and pinching. Make it a project just for him. Sure, this will mean extra work for you, but it will be worth it to end his frustration.

2 moms found this helpful

Kid's at this age don't know their own power and how bad it hurts when they do things. Time outs can work for some kids when properly enforced but with some kids they have to feel what they are doing to other people. When he bites, bite him back. Show him it isn't fun to be on the other end of aggressive behavior.

1 mom found this helpful

HI K. - I read through your responses, and noticed that one mama quoted a study about children being in daycare being more aggressive. hogwash. I think that it is hard to have a mama working full time ( I work full time as a nanny for another family), but that does NOT lead to aggression. He may be trying to get your attention. But, if you are only saying, no no here play with this truck.....he is thinking "SWEET!! If I hit my brother, I get a truck!" oops, that's not what you are trying to say! Or if you say "NO hitting!" as you are slapping his hand, he is not going to understand that you can hit, but he can't.
I agree with the other mama's who wrote that it's all about consistency. Baby's his age absolutely understand time-outs! Pick a really boring spot in your house, away from everyone, with no fun things to look at (fish, TV, other siblings) and let him know that that is the time out spot. Tell him he will be going there for inappropriate behavior. When he is naughty say, "I am sorry that you chose to throw toys, mama told you that that is NOT okay. YOu must go and sit in time out" Then take him there. if he gets out, put him back. When his timeout is over, get down to his level and tell him, "Mama loves you, but it is not okay to throw toys at people, that hurts. Can you please say you are sorry?" Hugs and kisses to let him know you love him, jus not his behavior.
It's hard mama, I know, my almost 3 year old can be very difficult still, but it's our jobs, tiring as it may be, to show them how to be good little boys and girls!!
Good Luck! L.

1 mom found this helpful

I know this is not how we bring up our children today, but still thought I will share my grandmothers method with you. When any of her grandchildren would bit her (I believe most children go through such a phase) she would immediately take their arm and bite back, not so hard as to do any damage but enough for the child to know that this hurts. Our family story tells that none of us ever bit her again.

1 mom found this helpful

HI, I urge you watch tv program called nanny911 or supernanny. It interests many, many different children's behavior. How it communicate and disciple with your children when your child has been acting aggressive, bite, throwing, temper, etc. Your child need time out to be alone for 5 to 10 mins and talk with your child, example: do you know why your child is time out. If your child respond yes, then you explain dont do that as wrong, hurt family and friends. more communicate open and if your child is repeat and you have to put your child time out... I hope it helps your child improve behavior.



Oh boy. Physical aggression can be pretty scary - we did this with my son. Have you looked into any "sports" or kids activities? I know in my area they have musical classes, dancing classes, and soccer even for so young of a guy.

And yes time out can be administered, but you have to be very firm. He sounds like a tester and will probably try to get up to push your buttons. We have a special seat that is "time out chair" away from play area, tv, or anything else fun. The kids have learned now that when I say timeout there is no ifs, ands or buts, but it took sticking to my guns. He understands way more than you think.

If all else fails you can schedule a behavorial appointment with your peditrician. I had to do this with my son and it turned out his aggrevation was a part of a communication disorder.

I hope something in here can help a little bit at least.

I think you can probably start time out - usually a minute per year in age after you make a big point in saying a word he understands, like OWIE. It will take multiple times before he finally understands that one is connected to the other, but it will be good for your older son to see him being punished just as he would for bad behavior. But keep in mind that your youngest probably isn't mean - he's not going to start killing small animals in the tool shed and progress to becoming the I5 corridor killer or anything. He probably just realized that it got him attention from Mom - good or bad, it's all attention in his eyes. So be sure to reinforce gentle touches with positive attention. Good luck!

You bet you can give him a time-out. The key is do it in a calm, yet firm way.
Explain: This is the rule. You broke the rule. You go in time out.
Don't give him the reaction he is looking for by showing him he has upset you in any way. Yes, that is hard, but you need to, or it won't work.

I have been there. It is VERY frustrating because you don't know where on earth this behavior is coming from.

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