12 answers

Help...my 19 Month Old Son Keeps Hitting!

My 19 month old son has a terrible temper..only recently has it become so bad that i am at the end of my tether. Everything we do, from feeding time, nap time to bed time is a battle. When he dosen't get what he wants he lashes out at me, from hitting, biting, scratching me, to throwing anything he can get his hands on at me or around the room. I really don't know how to deal with it, I have tried telling him 'no', but feel he is too young to understand, I have tried ignoring it and it seems to just make him worse.
Any advice would be much appreciated.

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Hi everyone,
Thank you so much for your responses. I have taken everything on board and really appreciate all the advice you have all given me.
Many thanks again to everyone and take care.

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Nanny last night had this exact same thing happening. Go to the Fox website and maybe they have a recap of it. Her boy had ADHD but it sounds very similar becuae he was very physical abusive with her.

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I went thru the same thing with my son who is almost 27 months when he was that age, and occassionally still do. The best thing I have found that works it putting him in time out. I will keep him there till he has calmed down and then he has to get up give me a kiss and say sorry. Trust me it was very hard in the beginning, he would get up and try to run away but you have to take a deep breath and pick him up and put him right back down. This might go on for awhile but I promise you it will be worth it. He will eventually tire himself out with the tantrum. You just have to show him that his behavior is unacceptable. The time outs get shorter as he will learn that you arent putting up with his behavior anymore and he will see he isnt getting the rise out of you anymore. Once they learn they cant push your buttons there is no more fun it for them so to speak. Just be patient the time outs are more than worth the time they take. Possibly even try going outside for walks, the park and etc. Let him play out some of that energy. Maybe he is just tired of being in the house since you said you dont drive. Good luck and remember to be patient.

We had the same problem with our daughter around the same age (she's now almost 2)- hitting and biting mostly- but nothing overly aggressive. I spoke to her pediatrician about it and he suggested- get this- ignoring her. I thought it was kind of nuts until he explained it. At that age, they really don't know enough to be trying to hurt you. What they are trying to do is get attention and test boundaries/limits. If you ignore the behavior and possibly distract him toward something else, he will stop. They don't get a reaction of any kind (yelling, laughing, etc.) and they move on to something they can get attention or a reaction for. So it is also important to "catch" him doing something good and give him praise. This really sounds nuts, but it worked so well with our daughter.

(i'm sorry but i didnt have the time to read all these responses, so it may be the same as another!)

i dont care if hes only 19 months old. my children tried it too, like all children will do, but its unacceptable! and they DO KNOW BETTER!!!
You have to tell him that it hurts, do not do it, and put his butt in timeout! no love-dovey! no explanations, you get down to his level and you tell him, NO! then move him to timeout.
This year I restarted a daycare with a 18 month old "problem_child"(quoted from the parents) a typical hitter,biter,etc. It has been four weeks and her behavior has improved here and at home. HOW? SIMPLE!~~ when she tried her antics, I IMMEDIATELY took her out of the situation(took everything away) sat her down and told her deeply and sternly, "NO! That is not acceptable here." then i walk where she thinks I am away, but really i am not. and in one minute i go get her, tell her "we do not ___" sternly and go back to play. This happened three times, and she is friendly, playful and shares her toys without incident. I also praise her when i catch her displaying great behavior. I havent had to discipline her since the first week!!!!!

good luck and remember, you are the one thats supposed to be in charge!

I'm not a know-it-all... my advice here comes from watching SuperNanny!! If you haven't watched it, give it a try---- it's on Mondays at 9pm

Since you are home all day long, try coming up with a basic schedule and post it. The posted schedule helps you keep it, since obviously your child can't read it-- though if you take photos of each activity and post it next to what comes next, that could help as he gets older to help you follow the routine. You can be flexible on the time things happen as your day goes on, but try to do things in a certain order so your son can predict and look forward to what is next. He is not too young for this at all. They say to do a bedtime ritual with infants (such as bath, bottle, book, bed) so a 19 month old can learn that, for example, as soon as your 6 year old is off to school, it's breakfast, then a a walk outside, then back in the house for quiet play while listening to music while mommy gets chores done, then floor time with mommy... etc... My son needed predictability when he was younger. He had trouble with transition, too, so instead of just cleanig up and moving on to something new, I would say, "As soon as Barney is over, the TV goes off and it's time to eat lunch." Then the second it was over, I follow through and said in an upbeat, positive way, "OK, Barney is all done! Time for lunch!" He fought me less because I helped him through the transition by letting him know it was coming up in a few minutes, plus he got into a routine where he knew every day after Barney was lunchtime. Keeping him busy will also possibly cut down on him acting out --at least that always works on Super Nanny because a lot of times the kids meltdown over small things because they're bored. Try rotating his toys to keep them "new" and exciting. And one more thing... A 19 MONTH OLD IS NOT TOO YOUNG TO UNDERSTAND "NO!" He is also not too young to understand cause and effect so he should get a consequence for hitting you. If he hits, bites, throws, etc, he needs to sit in time out (and when the time out is over, he should pick up what he threw and he should kiss your boo boo if he bit you). Since he isn't 2 yet, just one minute is all you need. On SuperNanny, the technique she uses is you give him a warning ("No hitting! If you hit again, you will sit in time out") Then the second he hits again, you say, "You hit mommy, so you need to sit in time out." Your time out spot needs to be the SAME PLACE every time, with clear boundaries, like in a corner or at the end of a hallway. You bring him to time out (carry if you have to), and tell him to sit there. Then you don't make any other eye contact or say any other words until that minute is up. If/when he tries to get up before that minute is over (and he will until he gets it that you will not give up), you place him back in time out WITHOUT SAYING A WORD over and over and over again until he stays put. (Don't hold him there or he will do things to get in time out just to get that attention from you to be held)On SuperNanny, sometimes it takes like an hour to get the child to stay put. This seems silly to spend an hour trying to get a child to sit for one minute, but this is the only way he will "get it" that there are consequences for his actions and you will not give up following through on the consequence no matter what. The next time he has to go it time out, he will test you again. But eventually the time it takes to keep placing him there will get less and less and before you know it, he will stay there as soon as you place him there because he knows it's not worth trying to get up because he will be placed right back. The key to it working, though, is not to speak to him, which is hard. You really, really want to say, "You need to sit here because you hit mommy!!!" but that will only give him negative attention and he will hit you again later because he knows it's a way to get you to pay attention to him. The time out without you talking to him has no pay off for him. You may be thinking he's too young for all of this, but as long as he is developing normally, your average child his age knows what he is doing and can understand all of this. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

I've been reading Happiest Toddler on the Block to get some ideas. It's a really good book. Talks about speaking in their language (toddler-ease - short simple phrases they can understand), using positive reinforcement to encourage behaviors you like, using your attention (or lack of) to get them to behave, and using Time-Ins - instead of a time out, throughout the day, have a couple of time-ins. For 5 to 10 minutes (set a timer so they know when their time is up), the child gets to decide exactly what you both do. Then, when the time is up, you say, "Oh that was fun, but the Time-In is over. We'll have another one - tomorrow, this afternoon, ect."
One other idea was to have them overhear you bragging about them. Anyways, it's a good book- you might want to look into it.

My two year old tried that, I put her in her room with the kid gate up and walked downstairs. I heard screaming for 2 minutes, but she got the message. I used to think timeout wouldn't work for Hannah either. I learned that repetition is really important with everything we do with her. She still has tempertantrums but is not hitting or biting anymore. Good luck. PS, its okay to be frustrated yourself.

i went through the same thing for almost a year with my daughter she went from hitting and biting and throwing things to hurting her self when she realized she would get into trouble doing it to others it's tough i know this but keep disciplining him time out etc..(time out at first is hard) and eventually make him say sorry mommy he might not realize what it means at first but he will eventually and if he starts hurting him self make him say hes sorry to himself. whats happening is hes getting frustrated and doesn't know how to express him self so mom take a deep breath go down to his level and tell him it OK to be mad but he cant hurt mommy that it makes mommy sad and it hurts mommy just tell him in a simple way that he'll understand it will take time to get him out of it but from what i think it's the starting of the terrible twos good luck and remember if hes making you really mad just walk away for a minute and then come back to him it's hard to deal with this type of acting out at such a young age. but keep your head up. and one more thing you could try take a play pin empty everything out of it and put him in there tell him why your doing it and walk away and when he stops come back to him..i know what your going through and its hard very hard but eventually it will get better i promise just remember to pick your battles with him good luck again H.

Nanny last night had this exact same thing happening. Go to the Fox website and maybe they have a recap of it. Her boy had ADHD but it sounds very similar becuae he was very physical abusive with her.

Hi C.,
I have an 18 month old who is experimenting with hitting me too! What I do, and what I have done with my older kids when they went through this... was to say firmly..."No hitting" and then take his hand and gently stroke my face with his hand while saying,"nice". Be firm, calm, and show him loving ways to express himself. If he throws things, say "no throwing toys", biting - "say no biting" .."nice" Keep phrases short, simple! He will understand. If his temper tantrum is too violent, walk away a few minutes until he calms himself- sometimes the attention they get can be a reinforcement.
Good luck...
My son is learning and I'm sure yours will too! It's normal behavior sometimes the terrible twos happen earlier! :)

My son is 2 and he does the same exact thing.Everything is a struggle!I have a little gate that is perfect that I got from Babies R Us.It can basically go into any form you want it to!I have it right in my living room over to the side out of the way and when my son acts out I put him in it for 2 mins.We call it "timeout"!Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't!Good Luck!

Dear C.,
I'm also a SAHM of a 2yr old. I did feel your pain...once upon a time (literally). Right around the same age my son went through a "hitting stage" also. Although each child's temperament and personality differs, at first hit I took him by the arms and looked directly into his eyes and explained hitting is a no-no especially with mommy. I explained in a very firm but loving voice that I love him but hitting is a no. Then he bopped me again after about 2min....he got bopped back. On the hand he hit me with I tapped him enough to get his attention. Of course that hurt his feelings and he refrained. Now every now and then he test his boundaries but now he knows I'll talk to him the first time, and act on the second which is unpleasant enough for him not to do it again. The hitting stopped with in the week. It's important to stress that I had my husbands full support and his reaction would mirror mine. It's just a stage it passes, and remember BABY'S ARE SMART!!!
They understand perfectly well whats okay and not okay by the boundaries you set. Best of Luck!!

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