Help! 15-month-old is biting, hitting, pinching, pulling hair... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-06-2003, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
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This has been going on for a while. He bit me really badly while nursing at 5 months, and then around 10 months he started biting a lot. He has bitten while nursing on and off since 10 months, and he bites me, his other mom, and his twin sister all the time. It just keeps getting worse, it seems. It does get better for a while at times, but then there's a new wave and it gets bad again. Now he's also hitting, pulling hair, pinching, and stealing my glasses. I feel like I'm under siege sometimes. I have to shadow him so closely so that he doesn't bite his sister or pull the dog's hair, etc.

There are times when he starts biting me, and I pull him back and say "no," then he hits me. I grab his hand and say no, so then he grabs my glasses, then my hair and starts to pull. At this point I can't see anything, I'm trying to get one hand out of my hair and the other off my glasses. All the while he's giggling like it's the funniest thing in the world. I just get so mad. And he's fast! I know the best thing to do would be to avoid the situation altogether, but I can't seem to keep track of both hands and the teeth at the same time, especially without my glasses.

And frankly, it's making me really mad, and starting to worry me. Is there something wrong with him? Up until recently I have just redirected him and reminded myself that he's too young to understand that he's hurting me. I of course tell him "no! hurts mama." and sign hurt, but I've reminded myself that he can't understand. But when does that change? Thinking about what's motivating it, it's starting to feel like it *is* aggression, not just a lack of understanding. But OTOH, perhaps that's just my anger and frustration coming out.

And mamas (and papas), what the heck do I *DO*? I feel like what I'm doing is really ineffective right now and I'm not parenting the way I want to. I have started *yelling* "no" instead of saying it, and that just seems kind of dumb--he still laughs (I guess the fact that I'm not scaring him is a good thing!). I'm trying to see if I can give him more positive attention when he's *not* biting, but you know, I'm doing my best already, and with twins it's hard. I've been through the gamut of every technique (that's not abusive IMO) for biting that's out there, so I'm looking more for suggestions on how to look at the overall situation than for tips on dealing with biting/etc., though anything that worked really well for someone would be helpful.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions, or just support.

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#2 of 5 Old 07-07-2003, 03:42 AM
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Well, I don't know if this is what you are looking for, but when I was reading your post, I thought....well, he is definitely getting your attention and yes, he can understand at this age that he is hurting....
I don't deal w/the biting, but I do deal with inappropriate behaviour with my dd.
I would suggest instead of just saying "no, mama hurts" to say, "Ds, IT IS NOT OK TO BITE! (hit, whatever...). Biting hurts! You can give me a big kiss like this or a tickle! (or whatever other physical thing that would be ok) But it's not ok to bite"
Even tho he is young he is still learning how to control the situation. And you are losing control of the situation: And yes, that IS frustrating!
I am reading an excellent book right now called "Children are From Heaven", by John Grey. He gives some great advice, tips, techniques for working with your children to get them to not just obey, but to encourage them to cooperate. He talks a lot about the old style of yelling, punishing, etc being replaced by positive parenting. I am completely inspired! Even tho my dd is older than your ds, I think that you could benefit from the! do you even have the time to read??? It sounds like you have a lot on your plate already! I am sure some mamas (& papas) on this board will come forward with some insight for you too. Hang in there!!!
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#3 of 5 Old 07-07-2003, 06:57 AM
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Hi mamacate!

I can relate to those frustrations; dd is the same age and is really into pinching. sometimes it seems she does it because she likes the feel of soft skin, but other times because she's trying to convey an emotion ( Hey! look at me! or I'm angry!)

this has been going on since about 12 mon. it is now finally slowing down a bit. the most helpful thing has been to interrupt her pinching with "gentle" and taking her hand and gently stroking my arm, face, etc. she is now starting to stop herself: she pinches, then says "daah" and starts stroking my arm. it seems she pinches less, mostly when she is tired or stressed.

biting is an issue, although less than the pinching. I do tell her "No biting" or "we don't hurt people" etc, but I don't think she gets it, to be honest. re-directing her behaviour seems to help best (like "kiss mommy!") There have been moments when I've had all the pinching/biting I can stand, so I tell her she needs to be in the high chair until mommy finishes whatever task I'm in. I just pull her around the kitchen with me for a while.

I too have had the biting during nursing. Arrgh! makes me want to stop right then and there. that too seems to have lessened the past 2-3months. and I 've found more teeth coming in, so there may be a correlation. Good luck! I know its tough!
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#4 of 5 Old 07-07-2003, 05:41 PM
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We went through this with our son -- he was a big hitter. I think that at 15 months they are capable of understanding "no" and that they are hurting you. While it is ideal to avoid situations that you know will set things off, its not always possible in the real world.

We started with "no hitting" and holding his hand until he stopped hitting. If that didn't work or if the situation escalated (like you describe), then I would say "No hitting/biting/whatever, it hurts Mommy", then put him down and walk away. You wouldn't sit there and take this from someone else, right? So why would you show that it is OK for your child to keep hitting you? My son quickly learned that if he hurt mommy, she moved away (not out of the room, just out of reach). He would cry. I would ask, "are you ready to stop hitting?" He would nod and I'd come back to him. It stopped being fun for him, so he stopped doing it.
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#5 of 5 Old 07-07-2003, 08:15 PM
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Cate, I love your name!

I suggest reading this article:

It starts with a discussion of why children bite, pull hair, etc, and follows with suggested methods of working with your little guy to help him get out the hurt/angry feelings before they make him feel so aggressive. Let me know what you think. Here's an excerpt that comes right before the suggested methods:

Children will lash out when they can't think, and can't run for help. What's confusing to parents, who are trying to show love and to guide them well, is that children don't seem to look desperate when they are about to bite, push, or hit. They look like it's what they wanted to do. But children do give subtle signals that they feel too alone to function. If you watch carefully, you may see that a child's face goes assive--acquiring a blank, passionless look--in the seconds before she lashes out. Fear and isolation take the life out of a child's expression. They don't look mad or frightened because they feel too far away to show anything on their faces. Fear robs children of their abilty to feel compassion, warmth, or trust. Their trusting nature isn't gone. It is covered by a crust of "no one knows me, no one cares about me."

Children get these feelings of isolation, no matter how loving and close we parents are. Some children have an abiding sense of fear and desperation that comes from circumstances beyond anyone's control. Fears are left by early medical crises that terrified the child about her own survival, by being given up for adoption by birth parents, by frightening experiences like parents fighting or a loved one going away. The day-to-day comings and goings of parents and caregivers, which a child can't understand in infancy, can also set in fears. These experiences leave a residue of feelings that can be erased by listening patiently to laughter, crying, trembling, perspiring, and struggling. They can't be erased by logic or facing "natural consequences," because the difficulty lies in a knot of intense feelings that defy logic and are out of the child's control.

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