Can you discipline an infant? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 08:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dd likes to slap me. And pinch me. And pull my hair. A lot. She's 9.5 mos and I'm getting tired of it.

I don't really think there is anything I can do except repeatedly tell her "no", right?

Does anyone have any suggestions?
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#2 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 08:31 PM
 
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Is she getting enough sensory input else where? Lots of thing to pinch and manipulate and pull and push and throw, etc.

If you are holding her when she does those things, you could say "ow" and put her down, or if you can't then say "ow" and gently take her hand and say "gentle" and pat your face and hair. Then see if she wants to play patty-cake or play with a soft toy that has some resistance to satisfy her need for sensory input.
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#3 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 08:31 PM
 
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I find they're really just flailing and grabbing, not so much slapping and pulling, if you know what I mean. With my dd, I kept my hair pulled back a lot and kept her hands busy and that seemed to help. If she just got over-the-top excited I would put her down and let her play till she got it out of her system. It was a stage that passed really quickly.
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#4 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 08:31 PM
 
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Loaded question! "Discipline," as in "teach," yes. "Discipline" as in "punish," no. By teaching your child that you are responsive to his/her needs, and helping them to refrain from doing inappropriate things when they cannot self-guide just yet, you will effectively discipline.

Right now, hair is too much fun- it gets between the fingers, and feels great to yank! Pull it back to keep it away from her, and teach her that gentle touches get positive feedback from mommy! Not a whole lot else that can be done about that.

When she slaps, there's not a whole lot more you can do besides guide her hand to touch gently. If slapping proves too much fun for her, set her down and walk away briefly. Eventually she'll realize that slapping is not the way to interact!

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#5 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 08:34 PM
 
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distract and redirect is my motto
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#6 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 08:39 PM
 
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Sure you can teach your child gentle touch, redirect and refocus her, she is learning cause and effect, experimenting with new and different things and sensory input. SOunds fun doesn't it?

*smiles* I remember the 9 month stage as the "I'm not trying to push mommies buttons but mommy feels like I am", stage.

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#7 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 08:46 PM
 
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Absolutely you can discipline infants! When they're old enough to pull hair, pinch, grab your glasses, etc, they're old enough to be taught not to. When they're old enough to crawl off into trouble, they're old enough to be taught to stay away from dangerous stuff.

Of course, it can take months before any of the lessons sink in, and redirection/ keeping the house baby-safe is vital, but it's not too early to start teaching desired behavior.

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#8 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 11:14 PM
 
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Yep, I agree with all the pp.

This is the stage where you start to teach them a few important words (although it takes a few months for them to sink in): gentle touches, no pull, hot, ouch (as in its dangerous to touch) and yuck (as in don't eat it). I found lots of drama and repetition worked really well with ds1. I still remember when MIL came to visit and ds was 14 mos and she was so surprised becuase she said something was "hot" and he pulled his hand away immediatly. But it was just months and months of "hot" followed by me pulling my hand away and making a "ouch, that was hot" face and sound.

My ds2 (8 mos) went through a thing where he would bite my arm every time I put him in the sling, so I just started putting him down and giving him teething toys whenever he did it. Wouldn't you know it, he stopped (and got a new tooth) a few days later. Just be matter of fact -- they're not trying to be annoying, they're just curious.

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#9 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 11:38 PM
 
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I second the "Ow!" (not loud or anything, just let her know you didn't like that touch) and putting her down and walking away for a couple seconds. She'll get the hint real fast. My DD (now 1 yo) still pinches, pokes, pulls hair occassionally, but I usually respond with "Gentle! Please don't hurt Mama!" and she seems to get it.

Sometimes, though, hair, glasses, etc., are just too fascinating not to grab, and you have to remember she's just learning and exploring, and not really trying to tick you off!
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#10 of 29 Old 10-01-2007, 11:44 PM
 
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Yes, yes, yes. With all my kids, when they got to that age where they were experimenting with the physics of their bodies and they hurt, I took the hand that hit or pulled or whatever and said "soft, soft, soft" and rubbed the hand on me, then on themselves. Eventually, the all started rubbing a hand over my cheek or shoulder and said "sofff." I think "sofff" was one of all of their first words!

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#11 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 12:19 AM
 
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I think 9 months is a wonderful time to start learning about age-appropriate expectations. Yup, they pinch, pull and steal your glasses at that age. That's what babies do.

When they get bigger, they don't do it anymore.

It's a lesson to remember!
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#12 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 12:25 AM
 
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My son did the same thing. This is what worked for me - I said "ow", then I redirected him to a new activity. I wouldn't call that discipline. It WAS frustrating (no one likes to be slapped or pinched) but I think at that age, distraction is the best tool available.
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#13 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 12:30 AM
 
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I don't believe that discipline and nine month old belong in the same sentence but...you can redirect, or say "ow" a bit louder than your normal voice, take her hand and show her how to touch your face or hair "gently". Your dc is 9 months old, this is part of learning, she is not slapping you or pulling your hair "on purpose" to "hurt you", even if it hurts (and I know, it does) just try to remember there is no intent other than curisoity.
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#14 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 01:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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To be honest I probably wouldn't have used the word discipline except that it's in the title of this forum. Sorry for any confusion there. I have no desire to punish my infant or anything of that sort.

I have been using "ow" and "soft touches" or "gentle" ... I wonder if I'm not being consistent enough. And she does get plenty of tactile stimulation (at least from what I can tell, she just gets really excited and has to slap mommy's chest sometimes)

I like the idea of putting her down and walking away, but doesn't that send a message of negative reinforcement? I'm not sure if I should be practicing positive reinforcement or negative?

I really appreciate the replies to this. I know it's a game to her and I understand that ... but sometimes man, she hits hard!
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#15 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 01:37 AM
 
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Well, would it feel more right to your to hug her close when she does that? Say something like "You sure seem to want to touch Mama! Here I am! (Big hug)"
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#16 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, that's a good idea too. And I have done that on occasion. These are really great suggestions, thanks. I certainly don't want to imply that exploring her senses is a bad thing, you know?

Thanks very much everyone!
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#17 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 04:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by _betsy_ View Post
Well, would it feel more right to your to hug her close when she does that? Say something like "You sure seem to want to touch Mama! Here I am! (Big hug)"
Hmmm ... Won't this reinforce the behavior: "If I slap Mama, I get a hug"? I guess I am a bit less GD than many here, because I don't think negative reinforcement is always a bad thing, if it's along the lines of, "Ow, I don't like that, that hurts, etc." and then paired with redirection toward a more appropriate behavior.
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#18 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 05:48 PM
 
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I have found with two daughters through this phase, that under-reacting works best. If you give them a big dramatic reaction of any kind, I think it actually arouses their curioisty and inspires their scientific minds to try it, and variants of it, repeatedly just to see what happens. I always just gently intercepted their hands when I could, and paid it little attention, and it passed as a short lived phase.
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#19 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 05:56 PM
 
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I mostly just try to keep DS's hands busy. I make puppet shapes and stuff with my fingers so he'll grab my fingers instead of my glasses.
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#20 of 29 Old 10-02-2007, 06:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bettysmom View Post
Hmmm ... Won't this reinforce the behavior: "If I slap Mama, I get a hug"? I guess I am a bit less GD than many here, because I don't think negative reinforcement is always a bad thing, if it's along the lines of, "Ow, I don't like that, that hurts, etc." and then paired with redirection toward a more appropriate behavior.
This baby is 9 months old. Surely even for behaviorists it's a little early for operant conditioning.
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#21 of 29 Old 10-03-2007, 08:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, obviously nothing has really changed yet, but I've taken a lot of suggetions from here and now when she slaps me, I very calmly remove her hand and say "gentle" while I gently pet her hand. Hopefully with time she will understand.

I also say, "Ow, that hurts mommy" sometimes, like if she's yanking on my hair (in a ponytail even!) really hard or something.

Thanks!
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#22 of 29 Old 10-03-2007, 08:45 PM
 
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like if she's yanking on my hair (in a ponytail even!) really hard or something.

Thanks!

My baby is 5 months old tomorrow and I am amazed at his grip on my hair! I wear it in a ponytail all the time to try to keep it out of his grasp, but he gets the side (that's actually pulled in to the ponytail) and holds on so tight. I had forgotten how hard they can pull!
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#23 of 29 Old 10-03-2007, 09:04 PM
 
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just be careful not to wear earrings the sweet little thing can her hands on!
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#24 of 29 Old 10-03-2007, 09:12 PM
 
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My son (3 1/2)did that at this age and my daughter is now doing it(10mos). My strategy is to get the skin/hair out of their hands and move on. I never said anything with my son and it eventually passed. I think if you give it any kind of attention it becomes exciting and interesting to baby.
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#25 of 29 Old 10-04-2007, 08:14 AM
 
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would swaddling help?
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#26 of 29 Old 10-04-2007, 11:01 AM
 
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How about teaching her to give high fives? All of the noise, tactile stimulation, etc, but in a socially acceptable, non-violent way.

Do unto children as you would have them do unto you ::
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#27 of 29 Old 10-05-2007, 02:06 AM
 
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This baby is 9 months old. Surely even for behaviorists it's a little early for operant conditioning.

Oh, lordy! By no means am I talking about a Skinner box here. Does "Ow, that hurts, please be gentle" and a demonstration of gentle touch really rise to the level of evil "operant conditioning"? To each her own, but I think even a 9-month-old can/should be gently taught not to hit or otherwise hurt others.
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#28 of 29 Old 10-05-2007, 07:45 AM
 
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Manipulating the behavior of a child through rewards and withholding rewards is operant conditioning. Being worried about whether hugging a 9 month old will "reinforce the behavior" is based on a behavorist theory.

It's crept into the way Americans think about their innocent babies and strikes me as flat out weird.
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#29 of 29 Old 10-06-2007, 03:00 AM
 
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All you can do is the same constant thing and eventually it may sink in.... although I can bet it's just about the same time they would have stopped anyways

DD is 16 months and still does the scratching the face deal. It hurts sometimes, but I grab her hand and say "ow, that hurts mama, lets hug instead or how about a high five." Before now I just completely ignored and tried to prevent it from happening in the first place.
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