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2yo hurting himself when we say no to him

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Just wondering if this is normal for a 2 year old and what we can do about it as its starting to get to me. My ds has a habit that if we tell him no or are stern with him, and trust me, we are very gentle when we are stern, that he will hurt himself then start to cry and look for kisses to make it better. Tonight, he was not being respectful of dh's space when he was chopping something for supper. Dh asked our ds to give him space a few times, then when ds kept trying to get too close to the knife, Dh told him he couldn't say there and put him on the floor (he had been standing on a chair to watch). Ds immediately bit his own hand pretty hard, started crying and insisted on hugs and a kiss to make it better. I know toddlers don't have the emotional maturity to deal with their feelings at this age and I'm not expecting miracles here, but I hate to see him hurt himself to get the comfort he wants in these moments. He gets all the hugs and loving he wants from us and I try to be especially mindful of this when we have to say no to him. It's just hard to always be able to give 'preventative' hugs in these moments to prevent the bites, or banging his head, or throwing himself on the floor.
He's also going through a phase where he's obsessed with booboo's - he's looking for a kiss to make it better with any little tap against the wall or whatever. Could be just needing a bit more attention or something. Or it's just a phase. But the hurting himself when he's been told I has been going on a while.
post #2 of 5

Lots of redirection. Explanation of why he's being told no.  My DD did this a little bit, and we spent a lot of time explaining why hurting herself wasn't beneficial, and acknowledging her frustration over not getting what she wanted right then.  Then would redirect with something else that held her attention.  I think that this can be a very normal thing in kids who aren't super verbal yet, as the only way to express frustration.  His fascination with owies and getting them smooched is probably playing into why he expresses his frustration this way.


And yes, prime age for more attention wanting. :) 

post #3 of 5

My 2.5 yo did this for a while between 2 and 2.5ys-- when we would said no or not to do something he would hit himself on the head or slap himself on the face. It was very odd.


At some point I would say 'no hitting, be nice to yourself' I would take his hand (if he would let me) and say 'be light and nice to yourself' then sort of pat him with his own hand.. he has for the most part now stopped but it took a solid 4-5mo of positive reinforment for him to stop hurting himself

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

thanks for your responses. It's nice to know some kids do this and it passes. I like the idea of reminding him to be gentle with himself. Similar to what I'm saying I suppose, but I like this wording. We'll keep giving out hugs and loving freely and trust that this will pass.

post #5 of 5

I've had a lot of luck in similar situations with telling them what they *should* do.  He's hurting himself to get your attention/sympathy, when that is what he wanted in the first place.  So, give him something he can do to express that in a way that he knows will work for him.  The next time I saw him about to hurt himself (or expected he was going to from being told no, etc), I would intervene beforehand and say something like, "Ds wants x.  Mama needs y.  Mama will y, then ds can x.  Ds can z while he waits."  Then be quick and follow through.  Sometimes do his thing first, but also before he's gotten upset.  Like when he was crowding your dh.  You dh could (sometimes) say, "Hey ds, I think you'd like some daddy time.  Let's go (insert favorite activity) for a few minutes and then I'll finish cutting."  I might also at times give my kids the words, "Daddy, can I help?" And then help him help!  Or "Mama, I need something to do."  And then find him something!


At this age, I think it's all about teaching them to communicate respectfully and effectively. 

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