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How do you manage your anger when your child injures you?

807 Views 7 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Pom
My two year old DS has recently started hitting, slapping (on the face while we are holding him), pulling out hair, scratching at our eyes, shoving fingers into eyeballs. All of this is directed at my DH and me. He has done no such thing, not even anything close to another child. I guess that is good? I don't know. Hey, just remembered he doesn't bite us. Something to be glad for.

We have never hit, spanked, swatted, flicked, etc. DS. Never.

I would like to know where this is coming from but I don't think I'll find the answer. If the answer is related to the solution, though, I need to know why. The hard part in addition to the behavior is him laughing hysterically when we try to get away from the hands, or say, 'ouch!' or 'No, gentle, we don't hit'. He laughs and laughs. If we set him down (if we are holding him) and explain, 'that hurts daddy, we need to do our soft touches, gentle', he slaps again and laughs. So the 'teachable moment' is just not there.

I feel like I've spent a lifetime cultivating a very appropriate response to someone inflicting pain on me: anger and self protection. But now it seems I need to put those away for, I don't know what exactly. To be furious with my son and squirm to get away from him while I hear the ripping sound of my hair coming out just brings on quite a bit of rage in me. I don't want to be around him, certainly not nurse or any nuturing toward him. And this is a terrible place to be and I don't know what to do.

Is this a phase? Does anyone know why kids raised gently, with much nuturing and no emphasis on 'independence' turn around and hit and claw at their parents? It is so logical that kids who are hit, hit also. But what about kids who are never spanked or anything close to a 'punishment'? I am all ears for some help.

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My ds started doing this at a much younger age. Not really to the extent you describe, but for a one year old it seemed like a lot to me. I think it depends on your child and the situation, but my reaction when the "Don't hit, please be gentle, that's too rough" kind of thing doesn't work, is to say "You're hurting me and I don't want to play with you anymore." And I get up and walk away, or stop doing whatever activity we were doing. He does get upset, and I will let him come to me crying and I will hug him, and explain to him that I can't play with him if he is going to hurt me. Then I will usually give him another chance to play nicely.

If we are nursing, I give him a warning or two, and then will stop nursing if he continues.

Also, when it comes out of the blue (I'm being over picking something up and he whacks me on the back of the head), I let my natural reaction happen - sometimes it's to yell "ouch, that hurt", sometimes it's to grab his wrist and let him know that it is not okay to hit me, sometimes it's to get really angry and not try to hide it, and sometimes it has made me cry. I mean, I keep it within reasonable limits, but I think that it's appropriate for toddlers to see that the natural consequence of hurting someone is that they may become angry or upset.

Oh, and just so you know, I have never hit ds, no one has.
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I think it's the nature of the human animal to strike out in frustration, or, for toddlers, to see what kind of "amusing" reaction they might get from it, whether they've never been hit, or not
: . I second the suggestion that you tell him you don't play with people who hit you; that seems to me the most effective thing to do especially with a child of his age.
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I don't think there's anything wrong with showing a natural reaction ot being hit -- it can be very instructive. The first time or two that it happens, I hold his hands and remind him that mommy doesn't hit him, daddy doesn't hit him, we don't hit each other, or the dogs, or the cats -- we do not hit in this family.

If it occurs again (or, honestly, if he whacks me really hard and takes me by surprise it might be the first time) I am HURT, and ANGRY, and I don't want to be around him! I walk away, or put him outside the door of the room where I am, very theatrically so that there is no doubt as to WHY this is happening. I am far too hurt to play until amends are made. I tell him this, so he knows what's needed -- he's not old enough to grasp it on his own, i don't think. Though sometimes he does it before he's reminded, so it MUST be sinking in! Apologies ("I need to hear why you are sorry, what went wrong?") or nurturing behavior (kissing the owie, bringing a cold cloth, petting my head and making soothing noises) are pretty much interchangable. I concentrate more on sincerity than speaking rote words, which is why healing actions will do just as well as healing words.

I try to pay attention to his telegraphing behavior, so that I can either prevent the whole episode or adjust my expectations accordingly. If he's "hitty" because he's tired, it's not a teachable moment and nothing will help but getting him to sleep.

The other thing to remember is that it will likely take 200 times before it sinks in. Also that it's just as important to learn how to make amends as to avoid hitting in the first place. Teachable moments are about using the lesson that's brought to you, which may not be the lesson you really had in mind at the time!


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I still have problems

These are my thoughts!

And I agree that you don't have to teach a person to hit, instead you have to spend a life time trying to constructivly deal with anger.

Anger and self protection are the appropriate responses to being hurt. Now you have to work on being angry and protecting yourself phisically while not injuring (emotionally or physically) or lashing out at your child. Usually this means opening your self up emotionally- not an easy thing for most of us.
I can totally empathize with you! I am about to post about biting on life with a babe! It is very frustrating and confusing to try and figure out why this little person who has been treated so gently could be hurting you! I have not a clue, but just wanted to let you know you are not alone! Good luck to you!
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I agree w/what everyone has already said.
It sure sounds like he's doing it for the reaction; ie. it's become a game. Have you ever used timeouts? I know
: this is very controversial. But, if you believe in timeouts, this could be effective. I would just stay incredibly calm and give him a very simple one sentence explanation that it's not kind and put him into a 2 min. timeout. No reactions. Then, when he's done, try to talk about it. When my 2 y.o. is done w/timeout, he'll run to his brother, kiss him and say he's sorry he bonked him. Or, whatever.

Good luck! I'm sure it's just a stage.
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It's hard!

We do a lot of the above depending on the situation. In addition, I've started giving myself Time Outs when I'm really livid. Explaning to DD that mommy is very hurt and angry and needs some alone time to calm down.
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