last week we were at the co-op childcare and a little boy (also 16mo) wanted a toy that DD was holding. she wouldn't let go and he smacked her across the face. to my knowledge, this was the first act of violence ever done to her and she reacted very strongly. huge tears pouring out of her eyes, etc. and she stayed away from the little boy for the rest of the time we were there.
but...now DD hits. she started hitting me a few days after the incident. this mostly happens when she's frustrated and can't get her way. my reaction has been to put her away from me and say something like, "i don't like to sit close to people who hit me." this seems to have no effect on her (too young?) and that's all I've got as far as ideas. i was kind of dumbfounded when it started and i'd like to nip it in the bud if possible!
any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
ps - i just think it's soooo ironic that she learned to hit at the co-op. ;)
beth DW DD Nov. 2009 and due Feb. 2013
Saying you don't want to sit near her seems overly shaming and exclusionary to me, or what Alfie Kohn might call 'withholding love'. She is too young to know what your actions have to do with hers anyways. I don't have a magic pill for this one (I'm still dealing with it myself) but I've been telling my kid to 'please do not hit' or "we do not hit one another in this house' and not getting all fussed up over it, since I think it is the reaction he craves.
Now when he throws hard objects at the cat...well that gets my blood boiling. I'm working on that too (as is the cat who scratched him the other day. NOT a natural consequence I am comfortable with).
So true! Hitting out of frustration and/or stress is perfectly natural for babies and toddlers. Of course, that doesn't make it acceptable or easy to deal with! With my little ones, I respond to hitting, scratching, pinching, etc with gently holding the 'offending' hand and calmly and firmly saying 'no' and then placing a distracting item in the same hand. It takes many repetitions, but my self-control and lack of over-reaction models the behavior I desire from them.
Hope that helps! God bless.
I agree with PP's that is doesn't really matter "where" she learned it, all children discover hitting at some point.
Personally, I think it's ok to say you don't want to be near someone who is hitting you. From my perspective, that's not love withdrawal, that's self protection. I'd also say self protection is a good thing to model for our children. But you can try first saying "Ouch that hurt Mommy!" and see how your DD reacts. If she hits you again you can then move to "I need to keep my body safe so I am moving away from the hitting. When there is no more hitting I can come back." You can say these things in an honest straight forward way, avoid acting overly hurt or trying to make your kid feel bad. Just tell the truth: That huts, I need to keep my body safe from hitting.
Also you may want to talk about what kinds of things your DD can do instead of hitting or pushing. My DD used to want to hit or shove her little cousin alot (and she did do it several times) I worked vary hard with her on stomping her feet instead. I don't remember what words we used but the basic idea was that no matter how mad you are at someone it's not ok to hit or push them; if you are feeling mad stomp your feet and say what you are mad about.
that bit of advice is one of the few that my Ped has given that i follow easily. if i get hit, he can't be near me. i agree that that is not withholding love, it's teaching behavior consequences. if he hits people, they won't want to be near him.
so, when i get smacked, he gets put down or i move away from him & play with a different toy. i do also say "no hitting" (just like i say "no bite") but i'm not sure how much of that he's absorbing. he def. gets the message about not hitting, but does it anyway. i just hope that if i'm consistent with the words and actions he'll get it and stop sooner rather than later.
One thing to note is that the human brain is hard wired for following commands of action rather than inaction, so commands that start with phrases like, stop, don't, or no are not as easily absorbed as commands that start with action verbs, and it takes the brain a long time to translate the "don't" into a "do". And children's brains have an even harder time doing this because the variables are VAST at that age,where as an adult you have narrowed downthe variables...so when you say to a grown up "don't bite me!" or "Stop pinching me." they don't think...so then what should I do? They figure it out. A toddler is not sure what else to do, so they keep doing what they need to do to meet the need they have (to vent frustration, or establish their space, etc). Give them a positive action to replace the unwanted action and it's a loteasier for them to process. (not always easy to think of these sort of commands when being bitten, but with practice it gets easier)
So rather than say "I don't like to sit next to people who hit me." (which is definitely a FAIR thing to say, but probably not effective for the under three crowd) You can gently put her down saying "ouch" rubbing the offended body part, and then when she cries hug her (modelling what TO dowith the hands) and say "Hug mama!"
Then work with positive actions. When she hits you, try to intercept her hand and instead of "No, hitting" or "We don't hit." direction it towards a safe thing that she can hit, like a pillow, saying "hit pillow." or in an action that is not hurtful like: "stroke mama."
When DD is nursing and she pinches. I gently but firmly envelope her hand while popping her off my nipple with the other hand and look her in the eyes and say "ouch. Hurt mama." then I give her her squeezy toy and say "Emily pinch, Bobbo." (which is what she calls it)
Redirection, modelling and positive phrasing really helps a lot.
She is way to young to understand the the I can't be near you thing.
What worked for us was - No hit. Gentle. And then I'd take the hand and gently stroke my face. It seemed pretty effective.
Have you tried gently taking her hand and telling her "gentle touch" or something similar? Even if she is angry she may be distracted by that. Gently holding her hands and saying nothing may also work. When my dd was that age she hadn't been around hitting so I just treated it like she was batting out without full control of her body and I intercepted her or ignored it depending on the situation, sometimes that meant holding her hand for a minute while working on distracting her. She is 8 now and I can count on one hand the number of times she has hit other people on purpose so I really suggest trying something else that is also gentle like prevention or redirection.
i know she was going to learn hitting regardless, i just thought it was funny that she learned it at the co-op! :)
thanks for the advice ladies. the ideas about redirection and the "commands of action" are really helpful. DD loves to say "no no" to the dog and i think limiting all commands of inaction in our house is a great suggestion.
beth DW DD Nov. 2009 and due Feb. 2013
Well, gosh Jackie welcome to MDC.
My cat does not feel terrorized by the kid but he certainly would if I took him to the pound don't you think? Kid and cat have worked it out. Kid has not thrown anything at the cat since the scratching incident, and cat is perfectly content to lounge on the floor right next to kid as he plays.
See, happy ending! Thanks for your concern.
I just wanted to make sure everything was okay. When you said you disliked how the cat was defending itself against your child, that you might be one of those parents who prioritize their child above their pets. I'm glad everything worked out, perhaps next time you could try to respond with less of an attitude.
I'm glad she's not one of THOSE parents!
LOL, really? I understand that pets should be taken care of, but I prioritize my child over a pet any day. This is why we are a pet free home at this time, I suppose. In my opinion, my flesh and blood are more valuable than any dang pet.
Back on topic...
I have 4 children, and the oldest 3 (the baby hasn't been there yet) have been shocked when someone hit them. And maybe it's because we play a trading punches game with them, but my children have never hit anyone out of anger or the like. So, I don't think that ALL children learn to hit on their own. I can speak for 3 that didn't.
I have had the most success with other people's children who repeatedly hit MY children (WHY do two year olds DO that?) in saying, "You may NOT hit x." And I pick them up and move them away. I am very calm, and I certainly mean business, but also am very quiet. And I hover. A few times of that seems to be enough. All the "be gentles" just seem to make it a game for them, a routine they go through. I think it's so silly when parents say, "We DON'T hit." Uhm, yeah we do. We just did.
So, if I were you, I would try, "You may not hit. You may (insert what you want here)." I have also had to, with other behaviors, say, "X did such and such to you. That wasn't okay. I'm sorry that happened. You may not do such and such." 16 months is pretty little to get that, but maybe it's worth a try.
"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."