Can you give me ideas on handling this situation? - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-10-2006, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My ds 23 months has been throwing things at us lately. Ex: ds23 mos is playing with a toy and goes up to ds(6 mos) and hits him with it. I go over to ds23mos and say hitting hurts, please stop....if you do it again, mama will take the toy away....so he looks at me and hits the baby again....so i take the toy away....he begins to hit me frantically and scream....so i take his hands and gently tell him that hurts and move his hands away.....obviously this makes him more angry and he tries to hit me harder At this point, I dont know whether to ignore the hitting and just take it or put him in a "cool down" place like my bed? He just gets so angry so quickly and his first reaction to anything that he doesnt like is to hit or punch and when you try to stop him from doing that, it makes him more angry and escalates his tantrum.....I'm at a loss here.....any suggestions? thanks mamas

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Old 01-10-2006, 04:53 PM
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We went through this when dd was that age, but with our dog and cats as the victims. I don't think 23 mos olds can really comprehend why you are taking the toy away other than it is taken away and gone from their reach. Try instead to teach your child how to use the toy and how to play with the baby. It took a lot of time for us to teach dd how to be gentle with the pets. We are still working on it and she is now 33 mos. It is a process.

A 23 mos old is most likely not trying to hurt the baby and does not understand exactly what is going on. He is just exploring how to use the toy and how to play with the baby.

What we do now, which I learned from a book recommended in the GD book list, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser, is to teach dd how to play with the toy and also tell her that I am not going to let her hurt the pets. Tell your ds that you are not going to let him hurt his baby brother and then teach him, over and over, how to play with the toy and the baby in a gentle way. It will take a long time but taking the toy away is not going to teach him anything except that you take toys away for reasons he does not understand. When he plays in a rough way, move the baby away. If he still plays in a rough way, go to him and show him exactly how to play gently with the toy. As a last resort, get him to switch to something more gentle, like sitting in his high or booster seat and coloring or playing play dough.

When my dd got closer to 2.5, I started realizing that she did comprehend the idea of taking the toy away. So, now we do all of the above but when she is still playing roughly, throwing things, banging the furniture, etc, we do say, while we are showing her how to play gently and appropriately, that the toy may have to take a break from playing if she cannot play gently. Every once in a while we have to do this. I hate to do it and more often than not I don't. It is a last resort only when I am really fed up and do not have the energy to try anything else. My prefered method is to get her to switch to another activity and distract her from the rough play. Divert and distract, that is my mantra. (reference: Sears Discipline book)

Another thing I have done, as a last resort, is to hide the offending toy for a while. But not in front of dd. For example, I got her a wooden pound-a-ball. What a stupid idea! She just throws the balls and uses the hammer to bang everything except the balls. So, that toy mysteriously "disappeared." I did not lie to her or anything. In fact, she never noticed it was missing. Phew!

It is hard and I cannot imagine how you deal with having two babies but that is my advice. Good luck!
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Old 01-10-2006, 06:15 PM
 
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I"m in a bit of a rush, so if this sounds abrupt it's not meant to be!

First, don't give ultimatums to a 23 month old. He can barely understand, he can't comply, so basically you are just guaranteeing he is going to "fail" this situation. Then when you take the toy away you start a power struggle that just makes everything spiral downwards until everybody is screaming.

When baby gets bopped, go over to the child, get down on his level, and say something along the lines of "toys are for playing, not hitting. hitting hurts!" and make a sad face (don't overdo the show of emotion though - some kids are very sensitive to your mood and it might frighten them a bit). Keep your tone serious but not angry or harsh. Then, become cheerful again, stay and play with the child for a minute or two, taking steps to remove baby from harm's reach, and perhaps redirecting the child to some other activity, or guiding him how to use the toy appropriately. Chances are you won't have to stay there for long, and the whole situation will be over in less time than starting power struggles. And with less display of emotion on everybody's part!

While I personally don't use consequences like removing toys at any age, I think they are more appropriate for older kids than a 23 month old, if you do want to use them. At this age, your child's only focus will be on losing the object of his attention, he won't be able to learn anything from the situation at all, except that grownups take stuff that you are playing with for no apparent reason.

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Old 01-10-2006, 06:45 PM
 
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My ds was a thrower too. Still is if he's angry enough. He would also rip up books sometimes or simply try to damage any object within reach when he was angry.

We just weathered through it with our values as our guide. I took boongirls tack of not allowing him to hurt people (usually his sister or us) or damage things. Often my enforcement of this *did* in fact spark a larger tantrum, especially if he had been acting out of anger in the first place. But I felt the principle was important enough to do it anyway. I sat with him lovingly through his tantrums and held the line -- he was *not* going to be allowed to hurt someone or damage property out of anger (or curiosity, although stopping curiosity-driven throwing didn't usually result in a full blown tantrum.) I felt it was important to teach this lesson early and be lovingly firm about it. It's paying off. He's 3 1/2 now and still has a hot temper -- I think this may always be part of his personality -- but I can see him learning to control it. While he still throws or hits occassionally, more often he pounds the ground or stomps his feet. I still try to move in quickly to help him stop there, but his self control *is* growing.

I think this is a long term project for you and ds (and any other parent and/or care provider in his life). I don't think there is a miracle solution that will help him control his anger over night. Teach him the difference between feeling angry (O.K.) and acting in anti-social ways (not O.K.) If he can talk, you can even teach him to say "I'm ANGRY!" There can be lots of satisfaction in voicing one's feelings! For my ds, allowing him alternative ways of blowing off steam was important. I don't discipline him for stomping in anger, for example, because it doesn't hurt anyone or anything. We can work on ways to express anger in more mature ways later, when his *is* more mature.

One final thought: now that my ds has good communication skills, he's been able to express how frightening his intense feelings can be. He's turned to me in the middle of a tantrum and wailed "I want to stop crying, but I can't! Help me stop!" He's generally a very sweet boy, so I'm sure the violent outbursts never felt good to him -- he probably always felt so out of control in those moments. I think our being there to take charge and make sure he does not go too far -- to *be* the control he craves but doesn't have -- is welcome to him, even as he's screaming and seeming to resist.

Good luck! It's a tough thing to deal with in a child, but you can do it!

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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Old 01-10-2006, 06:58 PM
 
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With the hitting, I'm a firm beleiver in "don't just sit there and take it." My safety is just as important as my child's!!

I try to give the child words- "you sound very angry. Are you angry at Mommy for taking the toy away? Here, hit this pillow instead. Does it feel good to hit the pillow when you're angry?" It might be a while before he can use words consistently, but at least it's a start!

Secondly, I wouldn't say "negatives" to a toddler. When you say "if you hit the baby again, I'l ltake the toy away," he probably hears "blah blah hit the baby blah blah blah" so he hits the baby again! Try saying "play gently" instead of "don't hit."

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Old 01-10-2006, 07:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68
At this age, your child's only focus will be on losing the object of his attention, he won't be able to learn anything from the situation at all, except that grownups take stuff that you are playing with for no apparent reason.
I just wanted to clarify my post in light of this point. I'm not advocating taking a toy away as punishment. If you can distract a child in such a way as to prevent them from hurting someone, then by all means, let them keep the toy. For my ds, the toy was usually gone by the time I got to him anyway -- hurled across the room! I would take away an object if he continued to use it as a weapon or was intent on distroying it. But the taking away was prevention, not punishment. I explained as I took it that it was not OK to hit me (or sister) with the ______, and I could not allow him to do that. Might seem like semantics, but there were times when I could not see a way to allow him to keep the object *and* protect myself, others and/or my home.

I guess the difference is the focus. Mine was always on identifying and recognizing his anger, yet not allowing the violent behavior, rather than the object itself and how he was using it. At 23 months he had virtually no control over his violent outbursts, so I had to provide the control. Sometimes that meant getting all potential "weapons" out of his reach.

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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Old 01-10-2006, 09:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the great responses, mamas! We're actually having a psych eval done on ds because of his anger/rage. (long story) ....I'm really having a hard time with his hitting and using objects as weapons.....but you all had some great advice....thanks so much

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