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Disagreement with DH over discipline technique?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm having a tough time navigating this one.


My approach to being hit or hurt by my 2 y/o is to say, "That hurt - I don't play with people who hit," and get up and walk away.  It's super effective, she hates it.


DH thinks she needs to be shown what it feels like.  Eg if she pinches him he will pinch her back.  He actually does not do it hard enough to hurt (so his explanation doesn't even make sense).  It's never done in anger either (he is superbly patient, far more so than I am, and generally has a great instinct for connecting with little kids).  But he is not willing to give up the tactic.


My main concern is that she is going to learn that it is, actually, sometimes OK to hit/pinch/hurt another person.  I want to get across that that is *never* OK, no matter what, even if they hit you first.  DH's answer to this is if that she gets hit on the playground he thinks it's just fine if she hits back.  We're at an impasse over this.  Any advice??  TIA

post #2 of 8

I think you have two different things going on here.


The first is convincing your DH that  showing DD what it feels like to be hit/ pinched/ whatever, is not going to make her stop. That requires a level of empathy and transfer that most 2 year olds don't possess. She would have to recognize the pain, remember the pain, imagine the pain in someone else, empathize with them and then use impulse control to stop her from hitting.  That's too much processing for a 2 year old.


The second is the debate over whether or not there is ever an appropriate time to hit someone back.  I can' give you advice on that one, since in our family there are appropriate times to fight back. I believe it's ok to hit if your requests to stop are being ignored, you can't walk or run away, and you are in danger/being hurt. If you have exhausted all options and you are still being hurt, I believe you have the right to defend yourself by whatever means is necessary until you are safe again. 

post #3 of 8

I think a good compromise for your dh might be using "time-out." He won't be hurting her and he will be able to follow her negative behavior with a consequence.

post #4 of 8

You might also try telling your husband that developmentally, 2 year olds do not understand that you might think differently from them. So, when they lash out and hurt you, it doesn't hurt them, so they can't really get that it hurts you. He's not going to teach her that it hurts you until she's about 4, when she's going to get it no matter what.


I'd also explain that this isn't a failure of understanding that it hurts, it's a failure of impulse control. Hurting her isn't going to get her impulse control faster either.


I think imposing a consequence like you do will teach her must faster. "Oh, when I do that, mommy goes away. I don't like that." So a 'time out' or simply getting up and walking away is what I'd recommend too.

post #5 of 8

Dad here.


I really don't like the idea of hitting your child back at all, especially a two year old. Lots of kids go through a hitting stage at 2 or 3 and I don't think there's a ton to be concerned about here. I don't think your child is old enough to understand the reason you would pinch/hit her back is because it hurts you. It's simply not something that I think a two year old would understand.


With that said, nor do I think explaining yourself would register with a two year old either. Maybe walking away...maybe that would work, but I doubt it.


First, understand that it's probably not a huge deal. If she were five, I'd be concerned. But at two this is normal behavior. You and your hubby need to be consistent. She can't have one set of "dad rules" and one set of "mom rules." Remember, you are a unified front on the battle lines of toddlerdom! (or whatever). If you are unwilling to hit and if he is unwilling to reason with her then you need to be unified on what you can do. A timeout is completely reasonable here, and in effect that is what you are doing now anyway. When your daughter hits or pinches anyone she can get a timeout of 2 minutes or any other, reasonable consistent, period of time.


Remember, as parents you need to be on the same team.


As a dad I hate hearing "We need to talk..." That shuts me down. Have a plan and approach it this way "I've been thinking that dd has been too aggressive and we need to do something about it. I agree with you..." (all men love to hear it!) "...that we need to do something. I think we need to _____ and nip this thing in the bud. What do you think?"


This does a couple things:

A) Your husband will appreciate your willingness to stop the problem.

B) You'll flatter him.

C) You'll have a proactive solution ready.* (Though not the zit removal kind)

D) And you'll ask for his opinion, but you probably won't need it.


He'll probably cave right away. Seeing your initiative, he'll appreciate how very astute you are in these matters. Just ask me, I cave to my wife almost all the time in matters of child-rearing. whistling.gif


*On "C". If I've had the conversation in the past and know it will start an argument I don't want to hear "What do you think?" without knowing what my spouse thinks first.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Honestly I'm not sure I agree that a 2-y/o can't comprehend that others have different experiences than she has... the development of mentalizing starts in the first year of life, and though it isn't 'complete' until 4 or so, by 2 many of the important elements are in place (check out research by Uta Frith and Simon Baron-Cohen on this topic) .  And two-year-olds will often refer to someone else being in pain (eg "Jason got a boo-boo today") so it seems clear to me that most of them can understand that others have experiences separate from their own.


That said, I did have a chat with my husband and request that he use a time-out instead of the pinch-you-back technique and he agreed to try that for a while, so thank you for the suggestion. :)  We'll see how it goes.

post #7 of 8

I love your approach.  You are teaching your child to 1. Walk away when someone treats you inappropriately, or in a way you find offensive.  2. To not REACT, but to RESPOND.


It sounds like your husband doesn't realize that he's REACTING and teaching your child to do the same and that in the future, if someone bumps into her, she's going to be hauling off and punching them. 


I can't help but wonder where in the world he got such a parenting idea from?  Maybe you could get to the bottom of it and ask where he got the idea from and debunk it's effectiveness that way?

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by IzzyTheTerrible View Post


I can't help but wonder where in the world he got such a parenting idea from?  Maybe you could get to the bottom of it and ask where he got the idea from and debunk it's effectiveness that way?


So apparently my DH's mom kept him and his sibs in line with a stick when they were kids.  And btw she is a lovely woman who has the patience of a saint with little children - I think it was just an unquestioned cultural norm for them (also MIL had a lot of children at a very young age and I can imagine she had an enormous amount of stress and not a lot of resources).  Theoretically DH is on board with GD but honestly I don't think pinch-you-back even registers for him as corporal punishment.  He keeps saying "But I don't do it hard enough to hurt!"


We're working with the timeout thing for now... honestly I'm not thrilled with his implementation of that either but I'm trying not to interfere too much with their relationship, I'm just happy pinch-you-back is on the shelf for now.


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