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14 mth. old being mean, HELP!

431 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  becca29
My daughter is nearly 14 months old and has recently found great joy in being mean. When I am holding her, she will sometimes grab a handful of my hair and start pulling. She will also do this to the dog, pulling her tail or ears. She gets a big grin on her face and when I say no in a stern voice, or "gentle touches please" (which we have been working on for almost 2 months w/some success until just recently.), she pulls even harder and gets even happier. It is maddening and sometimes I will slap or squeeze her hand just to get her to release my hair (as it really hurts.) I have no idea how to deal with this behavior. HELP!
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I don't think babies this age have any concept at all of causing other people pain... I don't think they laugh when they do stuff that hurts cos they're actually deliberately being mean. They just find something that gets an interesting reaction and keep experimenting with that, YK?

If you're giving her a big reaction, that might be feeding the behavior. I know it's hard to be totally calm when they're hurting you, but if you give a really consistent, firm but boring response you might have better luck. I've had reasonable success making my son let go of things by wrapping one hand around his wrist and squeezing gently while covering his hand with my other hand and opening his fingers... does that make sense? I'm tired and that might not be the best description... if you apply the right sort of pressure around the wrist it forces their fingers to relax, and if you curl your own fingers around theirs from behind you can open their hand more easily.
Then say, "Pulling hair hurts, gentle touches," or whatever. If she keeps doing it over and over you could either distract her with something else, or you could simply stand up/move away from her/put her down if you're holding her, placing your hair out of reach. Same with the dog... when DS is annoying our dog, I separate them by taking DS into another room or by letting the dog outside. I explain matter of factly that I can't let him hurt the dog (or me, in the case of hair pulling.)

Would it help to wear your hair up in a clip or a ponytail or something for awhile, til she isn't so fixated on it?
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You're probably right. It just feels like she must know what she is doing is causing pain, but really, she just likes my reaction. The problem is that I am usually holding her when she does this, so I only have one hand to deal with the problem. With the dog, I can just seperate them, I suppose. I haven't been around my support system this week, I've been on vacation visiting my family w/o dh and I got a terrible cold on top of being pregnant so my patience is probably worn a bit thin, and it's easy to forget the good AP lessons (i.e. distraction/seperation vs. punishment/time-outs, babies feed off your reactions, etc.) that you learn from all your friends when you are not around all those good influences, KWIM. Anyway, thanks for your advice.
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another thing you might try is suggesting an appropriate behavior.

my dd used to regularly hit the dog. i think she thought she was petting him. So we would grab her hand and help her with "soft touches."

she is in love with my glasses and grabs them at any chance she can get. we got her her own glasses (sunglasses at target) and usually they make a good substitute. "no you may not have mommy's glasses. wheere are erin's glasses?" We have two pair for her.

hair --> when she grabs your hair does she yank for the thrill of reaction or because she is interested in the texture? maybe something similar for her to feel? doll's hair to brush? dunno. hard not to react when you have a tiny babe grabbing your hair as hard as she can
and let's face it hair is a cool texture.

oh another one "it is not ok to hit daddy with the wooden spoon"...pull out the xylophone then ask her to show daddy how to play xylophone.
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It may seem drastic, but my dd used to pull my hair ALL the time. So, I cut it off!! It worked though. She loves the way hair feels (she is bald!) so she starts off just petting it, and running her fingers through it, but in typical toddler fashion, she gets progressively more excited and ends up yanking on it. She just does it to her sister now...since I have short hair now!. But, if I tell her it hurts, and her sister (5) overexagerrates her pain, and I give her sister extra hugs and say pulling hair hurts, be nice to Maddie. She will join us in hugs. She is 17 mo now and is getting much better with hitting and pulling. Just be consistant with what you do. very calmly untangle your hair from his grip and put him down.
You already got good suggestions. Here's what we did to teach my dd when things caused pain to others:

Any time she fell or otherwise hurt herself, we'd pick her up and say something like "Oh, owie!" Then any time she'd do something to hurt someone else, we'd use the same term, owie, in response. "Owie, that hurts mommy!"

(I always wear my hair in a pony tail, and I have no idea why my daughter has never taken an interest in my glasses, for which I'm thankful.)
Oh, I was just about to put up the same post!!! Our biggest problem is that our son only does this stuff with us. He is pretty gentle with other kids, people, even those he knows well. However, at home he scratches at our faces, pinches our faces and bites. (I'm pretty much the only person he bites.) I have bruises all over my arms and my knees (great now that it's summer!) My patience is wearing thin... I like the "owie" idea.

I did just cut my hair, and that has helped so much!!! :)
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