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<p>Hello All! I'm new to mothering dot community but I have been a subscriber of the magazine for a long time. My DH and I have one child, a sweet boy who is 20 months old. I stay home with him, but I am full-time graduate student so I have always had to leave a few nights a week for class, and some other times to study, etc. He only ever stays with me, my husband, or babysitters who are related to our family. I am still nursing. </p>
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<p>I'm writing for help because over the past few months, my DS has gotten increasingly aggressive when he is frustrated. If he doesn't get what he wants immediately, he bites, scratches or hits me. I literally have several scabs on my face right now, and a huge purple welt on my breast (from when I told him that a nursing session was "all done" a couple of days ago). I do not believe in spanking or time out, but I have to admit that I once swatted him on the butt out of anger and it devastated me (he wasn't hurt and just hit me back but obviously it was absolutely the wrong thing). I sometimes walk away from him when I know that he is about to attack me to protect myself, but he usually ends up running after me and falling and getting hurt, making the situation that much worse. I know it sounds ridiculous that I need to protect myself from my 20 month old, but if I grab his arms to stop him from scratching, he will lean forward or bite, and vice versa, so it is incredible difficult to come out of the situation without an injury.</p>
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<p>I have tried to help him identify his feelings using words and baby signs. I have tried to help him direct his anger by hitting something else or stomping his feet. Sometimes it distracts him, but most of the time it does not. I am feeling very desperate and unconnected to him. I have noticed that he acts out more when my class schedule has just started up again and when I'm sometimes not there, which only makes me feel guilty that I'm not with him 100% of the time. DS is used to sleeping in his crib where he always naps and where he has slept for the night since he was about 12 months, but sometimes we co-sleep when I am actively trying to reconnect (like when the aggression was especially bad, etc). I cannot co-sleep 100% of the time only because he requires such close contact with me that I end up not getting any sleep at all (like he sleeps on top of my head/face). It makes me wonder whether I should always sleep him in his crib to eliminate confusion, or if part-time co-sleeping is okay? Is the inconsistency leading to the frustration and aggression?</p>
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<p>Please, please help me if you can. I want to believe that this is just a phase and will pass, but we are going on the 3rd month or so of this behavior and there does not appear to be an end in sight. What am I doing wrong? How can we turn this around? I so appreciate your taking the time to read this and help me. I think you are a wonderful community of moms and have nothing but respect for you all.</p>
 

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My DD was incredibly aggressive at that age. Unfortunately there isn't lot you can do discipline wise at this stage. Trust me when I say that I tried everything, from swats on the butt (which am NOT proud of) to time outs,walking away etc. They simply cannot control their impulses at this age.<br>
What I would do is keep a food/activity and aggression journal. That way you can see if there are any triggers. You'll also get a sense of when he's aggressive. For instance, if he aggressive 3 hours after lunch, he may just be hungry.<br>
We've figured out that our dd needs a huge amount of stimulation. We go to a playgroup daily, which I honestly hate doing, but it helps her behavior tremendously. This need for stimulation also means that passive activities are really bad for her. Television makes her incredibly irritable. Even 15 minutes. She also cannot have sugar. Another huge trigger is tiredness. She goes bonkers if I keep her up to long. I've also found that she hates, hates, hates being constrained or cornered. This is huge! If we're at a playgroup and a kid approaches her and asks for a toy she panics and pushes or hits. She does not like people in her space! We've found that it's best to give her gentle verbal cues instead of physical redirection. This is weird, because I feel like most kids respond very well to physical redirection.<br>
I hope this helps a little. Honestly, since I have figured out her triggers things have been a lot calmer around here!
 

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My DD is also like this. She hits, bites and head butts constantly if things aren't going her way. At 34 weeks pregnant with DD#2 I ended up in the hospital for preterm labor and had to stay there for a week on bed rest so she was with my MIL while DH worked, and she learned the words stop it, meany and "no, no, no, no, no", which seems to be all she says now. She was also fed treats constantly and since then has daily break downs because she wants "cookies, nummies, cake". She's also incredibly mad at me because I ended up on complete bed rest for several weeks and DH took leave and stayed home with her, and now she has to split attention with her sister so I think that could be part of the reason she acts out. I just don't know what to do anymore. I don't want to do time-outs, I refuse to spank her (although I did swat her bum once but of course that escalated the situation and I felt awful for doing it), redirection doesn't work, talking about her feelings doesn't work, walking away doesn't work. I just wish there was some way we could find a solution that even worked part of the time, because at this point that's far better than nothing.<br><br>
If you figure any thing out, please let me know!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
<p>DoulaMama1- how old is your DD?</p>
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<p>It is extremely comforting to know that I'm not alone in this. DS also learned the words "stop it" and "no" (my fault for correcting the dog in this way). I've decided to start a more regimented bedtime routine, in hopes that I can get him to sleep earlier and stop the variation that he's had in his schedule for some time. I'm hoping that he will get more sleep and not get overtired if I can stick to a schedule a little bit more. I also decided that we will only co-sleep if he wakes up in the middle of the night wanting to be with us, but otherwise I'm going to lay him to sleep in his crib every night so that he knows what to expect. I have noticed that he does better when his day is more predictable, and I think he is acting out a little bit more now that I am back in school and he is alone with DH or my sister at times, when I am not around.</p>
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<p>Scottishmommy and DoulaMama1- thanks so much for sharing. I am going to try and keep track of what he's eaten, and the times of the day he acts out to get a sense of the role that plays. For the most part, he gets the most frustrated when he's not given what he wants immediately, or when something (like a toy) is not working the way he expects. Like when a square peg won't fit in a round hole. </p>
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<p>I guess my biggest question for the community is this: will they outgrow this behavior on their own? And.... WHEN????</p>
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<p>Thanks all!</p>
 

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he'll probably outgrow it when he becomes more verbal....Probably around 24 months or so. Of course he'll still have tantrums, but you may be able to help him express his frustrations better at that point.
 

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<p>I apologize for the EXTREMELY delayed reply, my computer was broken down. My DD is also 20 months old, so perhaps it has something to do with the age.</p>
 
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