My 13 month old daughter likes to hit, pinch, pull hair and bite. She is never angry when she does it; instead, she is super happy and cheerful while torturing us all. We do not have a TV and she does not witness us doing that to each other, so I don't know where she gets the idea it's funny. When she was very small I simply redirected her, but recently we have been looking at her with mad faces and calmly stating "NO. We use our teeth to eat food, not bite" or something along that vein.
Personally I feel that time out is wasted on a 13 month old as they can't understand the connection between biting and pinching and time out. I am opposed to the advice of biting or pinching back, and I won't entertain the thought of it.
When my son tried this, I only needed to look at him "mad" and say "NO a couple of times and he cut it out. But my daughter is getting worse as time passes. I'm afraid she won't be able to get along with peers if we join a toddler class. I need a new strategy to get her to stop before she gets to 18 months old, when she will be able to join a toddler class. They won't let her stay if she is aggressive.
Any other pieces of advice? I loved Mothering when it was a real magazine and I'm hoping the online community has more gentle attachment parenting-type solutions than what I'm getting elsewhere.
It sounds pretty normal...some kids are worse than others, but it's normal enough behavior for the age she's at. I'd only be worried if it was accompanied by anger.
Behavior is communication, so you'll have to figure out exactly what she's getting out of it. Since verbal reminders aren't working by themselves, you may need to either come up with some stellar redirection strategies, OR manufacture some consequences of some kind. (Usually withdrawing of attention, or removal from the situation are appropriate).
Not a silver bullet, but it has always been helpful with my DD if I watch her very closely and physically stop the aggressive behavior. I will catch her hand in the act of hitting, hold her feet as they try to kick me, cup my hand over her mouth as she tries to bite, and say "You may not _____ me." Also, try substituting appropriate behaviors each and every time by showing her how to bam-bam on a couch cushion or homemade drum, or handing her a teething toy to gnaw on. And lastly, there may be something about your reaction that she's finding funny or getting a rise out of. It may be wise to be as dull as possible about it when incidents occur.
My son did this a lot, and I tried several different approaches. What finally clicked for him (I think around 18 months but maybe a bit before) was when I told him that he could bite himself (on the arm), and I could bite myself, but he couldn't bite me. Same for kicking, hitting, pulling hair, etc. He would do the behavior to himself for a little bit, ask me to do it to myself for a little bit, and then seemed satisfied. He still occasionally tortures the dog and so I have to remind him from time to time, but when I do it lasts for quite some time.
Paula, mama to DS M (7/2010) and Watson (1998) and welcoming baby Penny (8/1/2013)
This. In the dog training world, lots of people tell you when a puppy bites, yell 'ouch' very lough and high pitched. Sometimes it works, but often it gets them revved up to go at it more. So please don't take this the wrong way, but as a dog trainer I equate behavior the same way. Md 14mo DD does not respond at all to my using a mad face or stern voice - she finds it to be a game and will pull the curtain again to get mommy to make silly faces or hit again to hear us squeal. So I stopped acknowledging the behavior. If she hits, I get up and walk away, pretend to do something else, which intrigues her enough to follow me, and when she catches up, I act as though nothing happened and we start from scratch. Drawing any attention to the bahavior, even if it's negative, is still attention. Kids and dogs are very much alike in attention seeking behaviors - in the absense of a positive, they are ok with taking a negative because it's better than nothing. It's the nothing that bothers them enough to stop and think about it. If in walking away she follows to continue the behavior, use removal of her as the consequence - place her in her room, a play pen, somewhere that she can't follow you. It's not like a time out where you sit there and explain the bad behavior and why they are there - that's too much talking. Quiet and quick pick up, place, walk away. Once she exhibits a behavior you like, then you talk with her, play with her, reward her in some way to showe her that you ignore unwanted behaviors but will react in a good way to appropriate ones.