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"Please stop pulling Mommy's hair"

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
...And pinching Mommy, biting Mommy, scratching Mommy...

I know he isn't doing it to be mean or to hurt me - he just gets excited. He grabs my hair in his fists on both sides of my head, pulls my face down, and gives me a big open-mouth smooch, which lately has been turning into a bite on my cheek or nose. Or he'll give a big happy screech of joy and grab my face, raking his nails down my skin in the process. I'm all scratched and black and blue. When I give a short yell of pain or tell him sternly not to pull my hair or scratch me, it doesn't make any impression on him at all. I don't want to show him a really negative reaction because he's trying to be affectionate. But I *do* want him to be more gentle! I'm a little disappointed that my yelps of pain don't faze him in the least. : When do they start to understand that they can cause pain to people? And does anyone have any suggestions for how to convey to him that he should not be so rough, without squashing his affectionate displays?
post #2 of 13
My ds does/has done all of these same things. The biting in particular is really hard for me to handle at times. I learned a lot from reading Dr. Sears' Discipline Book. It helped me realize that while we do need to be working on replacing these behaviors, it will be a long term challenge. It's not something we can expect to stop in a few days, weeks, or even months. Knowing that this is OK helps me be more patient. I verbally tell him "Do not bite Mommy! That hurts!" Then I try to remind him, "Give soft kisses" or "Touch Mommy softly please". Then I take his hand and "help" him give me a soft pat on the cheek or something like that. But I don't expect him to "get it" immediately, and I try not to get frustrated if he turns around and does the same thing five minutes later.

I am still undecided about whether or not I should put him down if I am holding him and he does something like this. My first tendency was to put him down, to show him that "You cannot be held by Mommy if you are going to hurt me", etc. But then I read somewhere that it is not appropriate to withdraw love in order to teach a point like this, so I am currently trying to decide if removing him from me for a few seconds or minutes constitutes "withdrawing love".

Editted to add that while he mostly does these things innocently in the course of play, he is beginning to more often do it when he's frustrated or mad at me.
post #3 of 13
I understand. My dd who is 9 1/2 months is very rough. She pulls my hair and pulls my dh's chest hairs! OUCH! She usually does it when she is frustrated and tired and I'm trying to get her to sleep. Needless to say it is hard for me to stay calm and put her to sleep when she does this. I've been taking her hand out of my hair and telling her "no pulling mommy's hair". So far it isn't sinking in!
post #4 of 13
My 9 1/2 mo dd is exactly the same - i agree it's all affectionate but it hurts! It's like a puppy - they give affection by biting and don't know they are hurting you. when i've tried to say 'ouch, hurts mummy' she gets really upset and sometimes starts crying, so i've given up on that as i don't think she can understand - she just was trying to give mum some affection. It's normally when i'm putting her to bed - she has me all to herself and if i haven't given her enough attention during the day, she's all over me, throwing herself over my face, giving big bitey kisses (close up view of jaws coming at your face!), grabbing my hair and winding it round her hand and yanking, adding the leverage of her foot for fun, biting my toes, legs, arms, fingers. I've considered cutting my hair short but feel like i'd deprive her of one way she gets to sleep - by playing with my hair (not always roughly). once i put a scarf over my hair, and she got it off and delighted in throwing it over her and kicking her arms and legs. It's like she's trying to incorporate me through her mouth! I just hope ithis phase doesn't last too long!
post #5 of 13
About 9 months ago I asked this same question...Ds pulls my hair and while it doesn't hurt now I know it will someday. Well, someday has arrived1 My ds is 15 months old this week and he is very rough. I know it is normal and you do not want to take away affection to prove a point.

Someone was telling me about this open hand technique. That when a babe is pulling hair take their hand and put it flat on your head, giving them an example of how they can touch your hair. the same with your face and hitting or scratching.

this is jsut my warning..do something now before they get older and it gets more painful! I wish I would have started sooner.....
post #6 of 13
You mean it's not just my DD?? I have been comparing her to a nursing kitten lately...the entire time she nurses she is pinching and scratching my arms. She pulls my hair all the time, too. So much so that I've been thinking of cutting it short. I know she has no clue that she is hurting me but wow...who knew such a little person could inflict so much pain!?
It helps knowing I'm not alone.
post #7 of 13
Originally posted by AnnaLaughs
You mean it's not just my DD?? I have been comparing her to a nursing kitten lately...the entire time she nurses she is pinching and scratching my arms. She pulls my hair all the time, too. So much so that I've been thinking of cutting it short. I know she has no clue that she is hurting me but wow...who knew such a little person could inflict so much pain!?
It helps knowing I'm not alone.
I could have written that post! :LOL
post #8 of 13
Oh how I can relate! I never knew babies could be so rough. I get pinched, scratched, hair pulled... Nursing is like a wrestling match. dd's latest thing is to do the thumbs down sign and poke her thumb nail down into my breast, then drag that thumb nail towards my nipple so she can get that thumb in her mouth to suck along with my nipple - OUCH. And I have 2 little birds with claws. Between the three of them, I look like I'm climb over a barb wire fence every day.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Here is the update...

...on my particular situation. I cut my hair short. I felt like that was the best solution to the hair-pulling problem - and I was tired of it being long, anyway. I was starting to get a dredlock at the nape of my neck from not combing it, ever. :

I have been much more diligent about keeping his nails cut short. So now when he tries to rip my nose off my face, he doesn't claw me too (as much).

I have tried to show him how to be gentle. I was doing this before, but I think it might actually be starting to sink in. Remember how I said in my OP that he didn't seem to care that he was hurting me, and this was cause for concern to me? Well, he started acting upset when I would show him that I was feeling pain. And now he seems to be trying not to bite me when he kisses me. Although the slobber level remains the same. Some things can't be helped, LOL. And he seems to be trying to pat the cats less grabbily, also. He reaches out with one finger and gently touches Mecca's ear, or he puts his palm on his head and then takes it back. It's so cute.

So, I just wanted to offer hope for you black and blue mamas out there. It does start to sink in eventually. (Not that I am not still black and blue. It's a gradual process. )
post #10 of 13
wow. glad to know there's hope! if I forget to trim dd's nails, we all end up with scratches! Hmm, she's sleeping; maybe I'd better go trim them now!

nice to hear there's hope for the cats, too. the three who we live with are all looking kind of harassed these days...
post #11 of 13
I was just logging in to ask about this! My dd pulls my hair in the backpack, scratches, and flops around and kicks while nursing (dh said it's like I'm nursing a salmon trying to get upstream). Ouch!!!! The only thing that's worked is trying to distract her from hair pulling and holding her tight while I'm nursing her. And I swear I cut her nails every five minutes but they still hurt.

Any other suggestions on how to set a good pattern with these crazy babes? My dd is only 6.5 mo.
post #12 of 13
mama--when my ds was that young he was a qurimy nurser...he eventually started to grab onto a boob and pull, using it as leverage to get to his tummy (his favorite way to nurse) He is now a regular gymnast. He is on his head, feet in my face, hands grabbing (massaging, it supposedly helps letdown and since I'm not as plentiful as I once was I think he is begging for more to come out!)

Maybe try a nursing necklace or a small stuffed animal in her hands.
post #13 of 13
DD is 71/2 mos and she has been beating me up since day 1!!! I've found that these things help keep me sane:

Keep her nails short- trim them or bite them every day!! ( This is also important b/c she plays with her privates all the time now and I don't want her hurting herself or introducing bacteria. )

Redirect her when she is grabby or pinchy to a necklace or hand holding or a silly game

I make regular tasks into a game. Once I realized she knows Topa ( a game my Dp's Spanish family plays where they bump heads) and would lower her head and tap yours with it, I knew she was capable of learning some oher games so we have a nursing bouncing game and even a nursing swimming game. It's fun.

If it hurts I won't continue to let her do it. The last thing I want is to get angry, resentful or even irritated.

I also teach her how to "pet" babies and cats and dogs all a little bit differently, but always saying "Gentle...gentle...gentle..." the whole time. She has begun to "pet" babies very gently and also kitties. I taught her to pet the dogs a bit more roughly, but she is still surprisingly gentle with them too, much moreso than other babies I see. Maybe you can teach ds "Gentle" with mama. Show him how to be affectionate.

These things really helped. I know a lot of WAHMs here at MDC make nursing necklaces. Many are made to look just like regular jewelry. You don't just have to use them when you're nursing. Also DD thinks it's funny when I exclaim in pain. She gets a kick out of causing it, like if she pinches my nipple with her fingernails and I yelp, it's like a button she can push to make me yelp. It's a normal part of development, but I'm trying to take some of the fun out of it for her. Also, she doesn't know when her nails are long or short, so I trry to be consistent. If she does something one day and it doesn't hurt, I distract her on a day where her nails are too long and they make the same thing hurt.

Finally, kids are typically over 3 and always older than 2 before they truly realize they are causing pain. They can learn not to do a certain thing, but they don't REALLY understand why. I can't remember the true age at which they realize that pain hurts you and the dog and the cat the same way it hurts them, but it's over 5. Maybe 7? I can't be sure. They can grasp the basic concept, but not the abstract idea of empathy. So, your ds won't really understand for a long time. Stay strong, mama. It will get better.
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