Help With Aggressive 20 Month Old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 08-01-2011, 06:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son Aidan is 20 months old. He is very sweet and very affectionate and loving most of the time. He also is very smart and is close to being potty trained, so he does have an understanding of things. Essentially he has never been hit as his sister for the most part is very gentle with him as are we. He is very aggressive at times though.

I watch a little boy and though it is less than when he first started, he still occasionally pushes or hits him for no apparent reason and seems to think it is funny. The other day I interviewed with a new parent and he practically terrorized her poor son by pushing, taking toys, and hitting. I found it very embarrassing.

Today I am at my wits end as he has been pulling the hair of his older sister and hitting her for fun. I have yelled and he stops but then does it again seconds later. I have lightly hit him back, which I think is ridiculous and it didn't work but I was desperate. I also did a few time-ins on the stairs, but again he would apologize immediately and then go right back and do it again. We practiced gentle touches and that did not work either. Finally twice I put him in a timeout in his crib for a minute and though that did seem to work for a longer period of time, I feel bad leaving him in there to cry. I know he knows what he is doing is wrong, trust me he does understand. He just seems to think it is fun to continue the behavior for some reason, like he loves hearing her scream or cry or something.

Help!!!

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#2 of 8 Old 08-02-2011, 05:48 PM
 
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I have a 20 month old as well and she loves to hit and kick me and her sister.  Oh, and pull our hair.  When she does it I redirect her, tell her that we do not hit or kick and try to get her interested in reading a book or playing with some toys.  I think that's pretty much the only thing you can do at this age.

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#3 of 8 Old 08-05-2011, 07:46 AM
 
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This is what I learned when I worked at a summer camp, and I've found that if you are consistent it will work well for all different kids, especially toddler age. I would say firmly "Hitting (pulling hair etc.) is NOT OK. Hitting hurts my body. It makes me very sad when you hit me, so I am going to take some time to myself until I feel better." Do the same thing if he hits someone else, but explain that they need time to themselves. Then completely ignore him for 2 minuets. Some kids will destroy everything in their reach to try to get you to react, so if he does that you may need to put him somewhere safe where he can't get into things.  As long as you do this every time, I promise your message will start to sink in. You aren't telling him that he is being bad when he hits or putting him in time out, you are telling him the truth about how you feel in a way that he can understand clearly, and showing him the consequence of hitting--it makes the person you hit feel sad and makes them not want to spend time with you. If you do do this make sure you give him lots of extra love and attention the rest of the time so he knows you think he's amazing in every other way!

 

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#4 of 8 Old 08-11-2011, 01:34 AM
 
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"Hitting (pulling hair etc.) is NOT OK. Hitting hurts my body. It makes me very sad when you hit me, so I am going to take some time to myself until I feel better." - I completely agree with RStelle. Don't hit him or pay attention to him after reprimanding him, but make sure to acknowledge him when he's gentle with his sister.

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#5 of 8 Old 08-11-2011, 05:05 AM
 
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Oh, mama, do I know about this.

 

My DS started similar behavior around this age.  He would push, hit, kick other kids (especially those smaller than him) for NO reason.  They'd just be standing there.  Or, even worse, DS would run up to them just to hit.  It was mortifying and so, so frustrating.

 

We tried redirecting.  We tried staying no further than 1 foot from him so that we could grab him in time before another kiddo got smacked.  We talked over and over about how we don't use our hands to hit, how hitting makes kids sad, what things we can do to be kind friends (gentle touches, waving hello, hugs, etc), praised him for every time he was relatively gentle.  Oh, how we talked.  I wish I could say we found the cure.  We didn't.  For a while, I chose not to go to places where I knew DS would be likely to hit, like LLL meetings, or the children's museum, or story time at the library.  It totally sucked.

 

But, closer to his 3rd birthday he seemed to just wake up and get it.  He would run up to kids (which, of course, would scare me... was he going to hit??), but give them huge hugs.  At the zoo, he's suddenly the boy who's going to the younger kids to hold their hands and talk about the goats they were petting.  If he sees a baby at our local coffee shop he wants to go over and say "hi," stroke their arm, show them his toy, etc.  He's just about the sweetest, friendliest boy I've ever seen.

 

I know that's not 100% encouraging, because he seemed to take forever to move out of that phase.  It was so, so tough.  But he did move beyond it.  It didn't mean he was going to become a rotten, mean kid (yes, I admit I worried he would be!).  Hang in there.  Keep modeling good behavior, rewarding his good behavior, and try to redirect him when you can see that "hitting drive" in his eye before he actually follows through with the impulse.  Do your best to set him up for success, even if that means avoiding some activities you'd like to do.  It WILL get better.


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#6 of 8 Old 08-11-2011, 06:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RStelle View Post

This is what I learned when I worked at a summer camp, and I've found that if you are consistent it will work well for all different kids, especially toddler age. I would say firmly "Hitting (pulling hair etc.) is NOT OK. Hitting hurts my body. It makes me very sad when you hit me, so I am going to take some time to myself until I feel better." Do the same thing if he hits someone else, but explain that they need time to themselves. Then completely ignore him for 2 minuets. Some kids will destroy everything in their reach to try to get you to react, so if he does that you may need to put him somewhere safe where he can't get into things.  As long as you do this every time, I promise your message will start to sink in. You aren't telling him that he is being bad when he hits or putting him in time out, you are telling him the truth about how you feel in a way that he can understand clearly, and showing him the consequence of hitting--it makes the person you hit feel sad and makes them not want to spend time with you. If you do do this make sure you give him lots of extra love and attention the rest of the time so he knows you think he's amazing in every other way!

 


This is great advice. I especially like it because it's planting an empathy seed.
Hang in there mama. It may take a long time for him to stop. In the meantime, I would follow the above advice.
How old is your DD? If she's older, is there a way you can teach her to firmly say "no" instead of screaming or crying?
My DD was very aggressive at that age. She's a lot better now, but still has some big time toy possession issues. Some kids are just more dominant and assertive. Eventually this will be a bonus. I figure, in high school, DD won't give in to an ounce of peer pressure (she may, unfortunately be the one doing the pressuring though!)

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#7 of 8 Old 08-11-2011, 07:04 AM
 
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A 20 month old is not capable of real aggression. They do not have the ability to understand that they are hurting you. The part of their brain that creates a sense of self and therefore a sense of other self will not develop until they are around 3. Until this part of their brain is developed and ready to receive the message, it is absolutely futile to try to teach them that hitting hurts. It's like trying to teach an 8 year old calculus.

 

My advice to cope with the behavior is this: Understand that the behavior is not intentional and he does not know he is hurting you. Respect your own limits, use the minimum force required to stop yourself from getting hurt. Distance yourself if you need to, especially if you are angry. 

 

I completely disagree with setting an arbitrary time for separation (2 minutes or whatever), just separate until you feel a genuine urge to hold and be with your baby again. I also completely disagree with purposefully ignoring them. The point is to respect your own limits and keep yourself from feeling hurt or angry, not to teach them a lesson. The only message that ignoring the baby will convey is that they are not worthy of your attention, they do not have the mental capability of connecting the hitting to the separation. Both the purposeful ignoring and arbitrary time limit are punitive in my book.

 

ETA: When they are older and you are dealing with undesirable behaviors (hitting/biting) sometimes it is a useful coping tool to ignore them. However it is very important to ignore the behavior, not the child.


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#8 of 8 Old 08-12-2011, 01:10 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holothuroidea View Post

A 20 month old is not capable of real aggression. They do not have the ability to understand that they are hurting you. The part of their brain that creates a sense of self and therefore a sense of other self will not develop until they are around 3. Until this part of their brain is developed and ready to receive the message, it is absolutely futile to try to teach them that hitting hurts. It's like trying to teach an 8 year old calculus.

 

My advice to cope with the behavior is this: Understand that the behavior is not intentional and he does not know he is hurting you. Respect your own limits, use the minimum force required to stop yourself from getting hurt. Distance yourself if you need to, especially if you are angry. 

 

I completely disagree with setting an arbitrary time for separation (2 minutes or whatever), just separate until you feel a genuine urge to hold and be with your baby again. I also completely disagree with purposefully ignoring them. The point is to respect your own limits and keep yourself from feeling hurt or angry, not to teach them a lesson. The only message that ignoring the baby will convey is that they are not worthy of your attention, they do not have the mental capability of connecting the hitting to the separation. Both the purposeful ignoring and arbitrary time limit are punitive in my book.

 

ETA: When they are older and you are dealing with undesirable behaviors (hitting/biting) sometimes it is a useful coping tool to ignore them. However it is very important to ignore the behavior, not the child.


"However it is very important to ignore the behavior, not the child." - WORD.

 

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