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I'm feeling very off-balance over some small incidents that happened the last week. I've searched through the archives, but I'm not finding exactly what I'm looking for.

My 14 month old (high needs/spirited) seems to be entering a new phase where he deals with his frustrations in an "agressive" way.

* Last week I was on nursery-duty in church, and I was trying to console a little one who was very very very upset over mommy leaving. He was already a bit out of sorts, which escalated when he tumbled over and needed mommy. We had a pretty good adult-child ratio, but just an unfortunate number of kids who needed attention at that moment, so I ended up with the separation-anxiety little crying girl and an upset little guy in my arms. He obviously didn't like that, and he "hit" the girl.

* Yesterday we were at great-grandma's, where after checking things out from my lap, he started exploring. He opened a drawer - which in other people's homes is not ok, especially since he likes emptying them. I did my usual routine of signing and saying "off limits", picking him up and redirecting him to something else. Usually he responds well to that. Yesterday though, he was very persistent (as little toddlers can be), and kind of stopped responding to me at all - like he lost contact with me. So I took his arms/hands and turned him around to look at me so we could reconnect and I could communicate with him again, after which he tried to bite my hand.

* Today he was trying to push the buttons on the dvd player. It's the one thing in our room that he can reach and is off limits, for two reasons: we can't put it anywhere else, and I do think it's important for him to learn that some items are just not for touching. For the rest he has free reign. This time, after daddy reminding him and redirecting him several times, he hit daddy.

The first situation, while certainly not ok in my book, I can clearly see what happened: he needed mommy, was out of balance, and things just got bigger than he could handle. I'm not too worried about that one (yet, LOL!)

Where I'm thrown off balance is the hit/bite in a response to "discipline". I mean, what do I do now, discipline on top of disciplining?

I'm just thrown off and don't know how to respond here really. I'm also, of course, having visions of him becoming a hitter and biter. Not fair of course.

I need some help. Some reassurance too if possible. What would you do here?
 

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I think as long as you respond to these incidents in a way that sets a positive precedent (do not get emotional, but be firm and let him know it is not ok), that even if he tests this new behavior (biting and hitting) 1-3 times, he will learn from your reaction i'ts not ok. Of course show him how he can express his frustration and how he should use his hands and mouth (we use our teeth for biting food, not hands, etc).
 

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I found when my son was little that it was very effective to respond to bad behavior with shock and surprise, like I just couldn't believe he would do such a thing. Wide eyes, startled gasp, pause, "You BROKE it!!"

Also, when he was hurting ME, I'd express my pain really clearly by yelling "OWWW!!!", moving away from him to nurse my wound, making a sad hurt face, and, if it really hurt a lot, actually crying. (I never FAKE crying, but if he's really hurt me enough to bring tears, I let them come.) This usually caused him to understand that I was hurting and try to comfort me. I'm puzzled by claims that kids under 5 or something don't feel empathy--mine obviously did! "Mama sad. I hug."


When he hurt me in response to my attempt to redirect him, I shifted my focus 100% to the hurting. That is in itself a form of redirection: Thinking about your sore hand may completely distract him from emptying the drawer!

But in a "tried to hurt me but didn't" situation, I'd go with a more extreme redirection: Scoop him up and carry him to another room. I still do this! Sometimes I turn him upside down for extra distraction--if he's not struggling so much that I'm likely to drop him on his head--and that often gets him giggling and in a better mood. Then, no further talking about the situation we've left; I find him something else to do.

He probably won't become a hitter or biter. You'll show him better ways.
 

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everything you've described sounds SO very "normal" for a 14 month old. and, sorry to say, it will probably continue for the next year (with round two at age 4 if you're really lucky like me
). i wouldn't worry too much that he'll become a delinquent. just keep gently reminding, redirecting, and MODELING. that's about all you can do at this age. it's time for him to start breaking away from you and testing, testing, testing the limits of his environment, as much as his little body (and you) will allow. sit down and figure what house rules are the "big ones" and which ones you feel comfortable letting slide. stay firm in setting his limits because he needs them but stay gentle and always available. it's going to seem like he doesn't want you around but he really will need you more than ever to be his behind the scenes support.


oh, and unless you want it stuffed full of racecars or pb+j, i highly recommend relocating your dvd player asap. anywhere in the vicinity of 2 years old probably isn't the best time for him to be making distinctions between what's okay to touch and what's not. just a little "btdt".
 

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I agree that it sounds very normal.

I think your expectations are a little too high though. It's simply not appropriate to expect a 14 mo old to NOT open drawers or touch a fun electronic thing. It's our job as parents to distract, redirect, block or otherwise help them move on.

-Angela
 
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