Teaching 2 year old not to hurt? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 07-16-2012, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 2 yr old DS is an angel the vast majority of the time.  Honestly, we've been really lucky, I think, and we've been very big since he was born on treating him like a person, a person who doesn't know all the rules or speak the language just yet, but a person.  When he has a meltdown, we ask him to look us in the eye and try to explain what's wrong, and it seriously works 95% of the time.  He calms down, tries to explain, maybe pouts when we still say that he has to eat his dinner or whatever, but is generally pretty easy-going and advanced for his age.

 

Except that he's developed a new trend in the past month or so of pulling my hair CONSTANTLY and hitting me, especially when he's upset or doesn't want to do something.  I know this is typical 2-year old behavior, but honestly, it seriously hurts sometimes - especially if he has his hands on a toy.  He'll hit me with it because he thinks it's funny.  The hair pulling is constant.  Putting him on and off the potty (we EC'd, so he's potty trained by now), giving him a hug, feeding him...if he can reach my hair, it's getting tugged.  If a strand escapes a ponytail, it's getting yanked.  The hitting is mostly in response to not wanting to do whatever we have to do right then.  I've tried telling him that it hurts and it's not nice, etc., giving a sharp Yelp of pain to surprise him, not reacting at all (difficult when it actually does hurt), redirection, catching his hands and holding them still until he calms down - but as soon as I let go, he hits me again.  This is just for me.  He NEVER hits DH, and he's not in daycare or around other kids, well, ever, really, so this doesn't happen with anyone else.  If he hits the dog, we tell him that it hurts and he has to use gentle hands, and he stops and pets her nicely, so I know he gets the concept...

 

I was raised with hand smacks, butt smacks, and full-on spankings pretty regularly, which I vehemently disagree with...but as a result, I have no background in GD.  The first time he hit me hard enough to hurt, I did smack his hand to show him how much it hurt, which made him hit harder, which reinforced why I so disagree with hitting, ever.  I'm due to give birth to our second in 6 weeks, and I need to nip his behavior in the bud before 1) he hurts the baby, or worse: 2) I'm super tired from the new baby and resort to smacking him. 

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#2 of 8 Old 07-16-2012, 10:05 AM
 
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Hi,

 

I think you have to be much more vigilant and on guard in blocking the hitting and hair pulling. And remind him , maybe with pictures or posters that hitting is out and instead we can talk or communicate in better ways.

 

Out of the moment - this is the time to solve problems  I think you should try and find out from him what his concerns or frustrations that underly the behaviors - hitting and pulling hair are symptoms or at most poor coping skills or solutions to a problem. 

 

what are the conditions , situations or problems that lead to the situation. By solving the problem , the kid won't need to hit or pull hair.

 

because 2 yo language skills are limited we may have to use pictures describing the problem or suggested solutions , asking yes or no questions and then trying to get more information 

 

I suggest your husband also speak with your child and say he is has noticed  the hitting and you are willing to help solve the problem together 

 

here is an example how CPS - collaborative problem solving can be used for a 3 yo hitting 


http://tinyurl.com/dytwnyu

 

I hope this helps 

Mary 

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#3 of 8 Old 07-16-2012, 10:32 PM
 
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When my kids hit and it hurt, they were levitated to their bedrooms until I could calm down. The other thing is to stop talking so much when he hurts you. I'd say "Ouch, no! That hurt!" and take him up to his room. When he's hitting,  he's NOT in a position to be reasoned with, no matter how advanced he is. No one, not even an adult, is in a position to be reasoned with when they're in the middle of flipping out.

 

If I could catch them before they hit, then I would catch their hand and help it move gently. For kids that are persistent hitters, you really do have to get to them before they make contact. Once they've made contact, they've gotten the 'reward' of getting their aggression out. You need to stop them from getting that reward as much as possible. Since you know his triggers, be on guard for it when you have to tell him something he doesn't want to hear.

 

Also, make sure you give him plenty of warning before transitions. "Five minutes and it's time for dinner." "Ok, finish up, it's 2 minutes to dinner." "Dinner time! Let's put one more block on." It doesn't matter that he can't tell time. Just the consistent warnings often let a child switch gears more quickly. No one likes to be interrupted.


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#4 of 8 Old 07-17-2012, 12:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, if he had a room it would be easier, but we live in a 1 BR where his crib is in the living room, so there's really no private space to send him to.  The hair pulling is more often than not somewhat affectionate - he'll be hugging me, and find my ponytail fun, and yank on it; or I'll be putting him down for the night and a strand will fall out and he'll grab it to pull me closer...  I don't want to be too harsh on him when I know it's not malicious, but OTOH he can't hurt people even if he's trying to be loving.  I don't want to raise Lenny over here... winky.gif

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#5 of 8 Old 07-17-2012, 11:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

If I could catch them before they hit, then I would catch their hand and help it move gently. For kids that are persistent hitters, you really do have to get to them before they make contact. Once they've made contact, they've gotten the 'reward' of getting their aggression out. You need to stop them from getting that reward as much as possible. Since you know his triggers, be on guard for it when you have to tell him something he doesn't want to hear.

 

Also, make sure you give him plenty of warning before transitions. "Five minutes and it's time for dinner." "Ok, finish up, it's 2 minutes to dinner." "Dinner time! Let's put one more block on." It doesn't matter that he can't tell time. Just the consistent warnings often let a child switch gears more quickly. No one likes to be interrupted.

 

Definitely this.

 

My son was a hitter, my daughter was a biter.  I got really good at catching his arm before he made contact, and getting my hand in front of wherever she wanted to bite without her biting....I'd keep my hand in place gently but firmly, make sure I was at their eye level, and say in a serious but not mean tone, "NO, that hurts me."  and then give them an alternative based on whether they were mad, excited, bored, etc.  ...if they kept at it, I'd remove myself from their area and say, "I won't let you keep hurting me."  Rinse, lather, repeat 7 jillion times.  ;)    My son hit for just a few months, my daughter took a lot longer to get over the biting.  Personality/temperament differences, for sure.

 

Good luck!


Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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#6 of 8 Old 07-21-2012, 09:46 PM
 
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Thursday2, 

 

Your son sounds a lot like my daughter, and we are going through the same challenges right now.  We have taught her for a long time to use "gentle hands" and she does really well with that most of the time, but sometimes it seems like she wants to try the opposite of gentle and see what reaction that gets.  Then she goes back to gentle hands, and then back to hurting.  It's super frustrating!  I am starting to leave the room when she is being hurtful as a sort of natural consequence that I'm not going to stay there and be hurt, (as presumably other people in her life would do if they were being hurt by her), and also so that I don't totally lose it with her.  DH is concerned about making her feel "bad" or abandoned by doing that though.  I'm not sure what else to really do though, the hurting seriously pushes my buttons.  I was also thinking it would be good to give her a stuffed animal or pillow or something that she can hit if she is feeling like she wants to express some anger or frustration or something.  Anyway, I can't tell you anything that will work as we're still in it, but those are the things I'm trying.  ;)

 

Amber


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#7 of 8 Old 07-21-2012, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies!  If anyone else has any hints or suggestions, I'd love to hear them, but we've been trying something this week that has seemed to be working in terms of the hitting, so I thought I'd update for those in the same boat.  When I would catch his hands before I would follow it with "We don't hit!" "No!" "That hurts Mommy!" or some variation, and I would hold on until he seemed to be a little calmer or until I worried about bruising him - inevitably, as soon as I let go, he'd try to hit me again.  That's what was so frustrating.  This week, I've changed my response.  Instead of getting angry, I've gotten stern, but more importantly, I've changed to "Are you ready to have your hands back?"  And then explained that if he can't control his hands he can't have them.  The first time or two he tried to hit me again, but since then it's worked pretty well - I think taking the power play out of it (I'm physically stronger than you and can therefore hold you if I want vs. As the person in charge, I need to make sure everyone here is in control of themselves) and giving him a choice in the matter has helped a lot.  I can see the wheels turning as he decides whether to try to hit me again or to make the effort to explain why he's upset, and he generally chooses to try to verbalize as long as I stay stern but not angry - if I get angry, he gets violent.  A good lesson for me, too. :)  The hair pulling is still an issue, but even that has lessened a bit as a side consequence, I think.

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#8 of 8 Old 07-22-2012, 05:54 AM
 
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It's great that you have found a gentle solution that helps him feel in control. If that continues to work, great!  

 

Other ideas...

 

Since you are already super attentive and in tune - do you think you can prevent him from even starting to hit/hair pull? Just for like 3-5 days? Like use major distraction tricks to change the dynamic before he hits? Can you put your hair up in a bun? I ask because sometimes I feel like they may just forget about how interesting all of this is if they just don't have the chance to even experiment for a few days. 

 

I just spend a few days with a 2 year old who was doing some of this and it became clear to me early on that all the talking wasn't going to work right now. When we started to just remove the chance for experimentation, things got drastically better, very quickly. 

 

What would this look like in your case? Well, when you know he's starting to get frustrated and you feel he may raise his hand - just quickly say you have to pee or need a glass of water. Jump up and tell him you'll be right back. Pull your hair up - when he gets it (cuz' I imagine that's harder to predict), just slide his hand off and tell him you need to grab something and come back. 


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