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21 month old tantrums and hitting himself

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

My almost 21 month old DS will have the typical tantrums when he is frustrated or does not get his way. Overall his tantrums are really mild, they only last a few seconds and then he moves on to something else, going back to his cheery self. My problem is that in the past few weeks he will either smack his own head, head butt something (especially me if I have to physically move him away from something) or pinch himself (mostly his cheeks). He isn't all out beating himself or anything like that. I work with special needs children and have for many years, it is not the type of thing that I would describe as "self injury", it's just something that I'm pretty sure he's doing because he knows it really bothers me. Most of the time he makes sure I'm watching when he does it.


I usually react by placing him in the middle of the floor, getting down to his level and saying in a firm voice "It's not ok to hit" or something to that effect. Then he most likely will yell and cry for a few more seconds and move on.


My question is, should I be handling this differently? He isn't really hurting himself, I just can't stand seeing him do it. He started out hitting me, and I handled it the same way, and now he doesn't do that anymore. I just feel like hitting himself has taken it's place. This is basically the most annoying thing he can do in my eyes, which again, is probably why he's doing it.

post #2 of 2

If what you are doing right now is working, then I would keep doing it.  


Extinction could be an option though.


Around that age, I began telling my daughter, if she was really doing something inappropriate, like hitting me, "I'll be in the next room, and I'll come back if you want me to."  If she called out for me, I came back immediately and held her.   I felt this, for her personality, was a loving and gentle way to respond, and so far so good... She is the type who if you let her run her course, will cry on the floor for 1-5 minutes then hop up and run off smiling.  I've actually heard her say, "Im sad...." "OK dear, need a hug?" "Nooo."  [mope mope mope].... "Now I'm not sad anymore!" But if I get in her face trying to "fix" a tantrum, it could go on indefinitely.  Anyhow... obviously all kids are different.


I would be really surprised to find a 21mo can do damage to himself, you know?  Even if he has a high pain threshold, he probably doesn't have the arm strength yet.



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