Naughty Behavior from My 15 Month Old.

Updated on June 07, 2010
A.D. asks from Chisago City, MN
10 answers

I have a 15 month old daughter and she has recently started hitting, biting, and throwing wicked tantrums. I am not sure how to deal with this. When we tell her "no, no" she just ignores and it doesn't even affect her. I haven't tried but I assume that time outs won’t work because she is too young. She takes a lot of her frustrations out on her older brother (4 ½) and I feel bad for him. I never had to deal with him acting like this at her age so I am lost at what to do. I would like to put a stop to it so she doesn't grow up to be a big meanie! Any ideas??

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So What Happened?

So I have been working with her on time outs and she actually stays in time out (after a few trys). It doesn't seem to correct her behavior though. She seems to just get more mad.

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answers from Jacksonville on

My son is 15mos and he is the 2nd child and does that too. I believe it has to do with defense mechanism. If the older sibling hits, pushes, etc they might be fighting back. With my son, I think his molars are coming in and he is desperate to find something to chew on, so he bites, chews on stuff all the time. I usually tell him no when he hits/bites and he stares at me and stops for the moment, but with his age, you have to keep distracting with positive behavior. They are not going to remember one min from the next. It's constant re-inforcement. Good luck.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Hi A.,

My son is almost 20 months and he has just started to hit also. He throws fits too and we are working on both. Sometimes I feel like I don't know what I'm doing either, or if what I am doing is working. I definitely can recognize his behavior right before he is about to have a fit and I try to talk him out of it. Basically it all stems out of frustration and their inability to communicate with us. My son doesn't have many words yet, so when he starts acting like he's going to have a tantrum I verbalize his feelings for him. I feel kinda silly doing it but I think it works.

I basically just let him know it's okay to be: mad, sad, angry....but it's not okay to feel that way and hit something or someone (mostly me). I just talk to him and say something like " I know you're mad you can't go outside and play right now, but we can go after dinner...etc". It helps some.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes it doesn't help and I'll put him in his pack and play (the designated time-out zone) for a minute to let him cool down. He can throw his fit in there until he gets it all out. I do think your daughter is too young for timeout. Even my son at 18 months didn't quite realize what was going on at first, I think he understands a little better now.

Also, when I start to see my son get really excited and think he's going to start hitting or throwing things, I'll remind him to calm down and that there is no hitting, throwing we have to be gentle to our friends, cats, or whatever.

Good luck. I think it's mostly a phase, but if you let it slide it might stick around for good :)

Updated: Ooh and yes as someone mentioned try sign language. My son would always scream while I was getting him more food to eat and so I taught him to sign "more". He does it all the time now and it cut down on his screaming at the dinner table. I like the baby einstein videos and so does he. We are working on more signs, like "help" "mommy" "daddy" drink and eat, etc.

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answers from Kansas City on

I would agree that it's probably her age. Is she very verbal? If she's not, she could just be really frustrated when trying to communicate and no one understands her. If you think that could be it, maybe look into some basic sign language, or even make up your own. This is the age where kids really want to interact and communicate and can get very easily frustated. She does know how to throw a fit and some kids will resort to that when other forms of communication don't work.

She really isn't too young for a time out but she also isn't old enough to reason with you about it either. If she's very agressive, you can put her in her crib for a time out and say something to the affect of I'm putting you here b/c you hit your brother. It's not okay to hit. Leave her for a minute, come back, tell her again and let her go play. She can understand that she gets removed from the family/something she likes doing when she hits. Slowly she'll start learning how to talk about it with you and apologize, but she's not there yet. If you don't want to do time outs, just redirect her. Remove her from whatever she's doing and try to engage her in something else.

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answers from San Francisco on

Your 4 year old will be fine.

She's only 15 months, and she is too young for time outs. She's just very strong-willed. Don't assume she's going to grow up to be a meanie.

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answers from Detroit on

Honestly, it's the age. The little girl I nanny for currently is this age, and started throwing extreme fits lately, doing alot of what your describing. I just have to be consistent with her, and it'll pass. I don't give her attention when she is throwing a fit, I simply make sure she's not going to injure herself and step away from her.

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answers from Redding on

In my opinion, she is not too young for time outs.
If she hits or bites, she is told "It's not nice!" and gets taken away to a different area and made to sit there. Same thing with tantrums.
They say one minute for year of age so you are talking, rounding up, 2 minutes. If she won't sit for two minutes, a time out can take a longer time.
She needs to know you won't let her up until she has sat for 2 minutes. Getting up starts the clock all over again. It's work, but it's worth it, and she also needs to say that she's sorry to your and/or her brother.
If you don't do anything, your son will get tired of it and take his frustrations back out on her and she will wonder what the heck happened. She will likely cause a complete scene because she's not used to consequences for her behavior. That's why you have to step in before it gets to that point or your son, eventually, will put her in her place. And, if you don't come up with a plan before that happens, you can't really be mad at him for putting her in her place. Yes, she's a baby, but if she is mean, it's time to head it off at the pass. Everytime she's mean, at this age, and some may disagree with me, it's time to take her to her crib. If she can't play nice, then maybe she needs to lay down. She might not like it. She may scream and fuss. But, everytime she hits or bites or throws a fit, that's what she gets instead of what she thought she wanted.
You just have to be consistant with it.
She's old enough to give a hug and say sorry.

Just stick with it.



answers from Chicago on

Timeouts do work!! I have one and a half year old twins, and we've used timeouts from the start. They key is consistency!!! Tell your daughter what you want her to do (we don't hit, please stop biting). Then, take her and "restrain" her. I sit my sons on the floor and sit behind them. I reach around and grab their arms and hold them still. I do this for one minute (one minute per year of age). If you do this consistently, you will see a change. But, you must do it EVERY time, or it will not work.

People are amazed at how well my kids listen, and they're still very young. Do they listen all the time? Nope. But, they know the expectations and consequences for their behaviors and they do a pretty good job.



answers from Amarillo on

My 2 year old grand daughter was doing this and would scream at the top of her lungs and throw herself down and we were concerned she would hurt herself so what i started with her was when she started I would hold and hug her firmly and rock and sing to her and tell her when she is done she can go back to play. it took about 3 times and she quit cause each time she would start she would look at me and I would ask if she needed to have a hug with me and she would just go back to play. It did not stop her from being clse to me and she comes to me for hugs now when she gets frustrated or upset and tells me she needs one so it turned out great for her.



answers from Dallas on

Babies start getting frustrated at this age because they are able to understand but can't really communicate well. Check out baby sign language - if she isn't super verbal, it may help her communicate what she's needing/wanting, etc. and might help with the tantrums cause she won't be as frustrated. good luck!



answers from Portland on

All of these are extremely common "strategies" for little kids to deal with too much frustration. They pretty much blow a fuse because they don't know any better way to get what they perceive they "need," which at this age is just about anything they "want." Reasoning is extremely primitive up to around age 4, and restraint almost non-existent. But these skills can be coaxed to develop a little faster with consistent and patient parental intervention.

Time outs work for some young kids, not so much for others. The most universally effective approach is generally to give lots of attention for positive behavior, and ignore as much as possible the negative. Kids crave attention from mommy, so they'll gradually learn to do those things that pull mommy away from her other interests, even if the attention they get is negative.

Also, these behaviors generally have an identifiable signature, so learn to predict when the frustrated behavior is coming on so you can intervene and redirect her attention. There is usually a change in the child's volume/tone of voice as her frustration builds, and there may be an increase in grabbing and other physical interaction as well. This is extremely demanding on you, but so is dealing with the challenging behavior. You might enlist big bro's assistance in this, too, and teach him to move away from his sister when she's getting too agitated.

I haven't read this book yet by Faber and Mazlish, Siblings Without Rivalry, but their other work (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen…) is practical and brilliant, and I know some young parents who have had fabulous results using the techniques.

Good luck.

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