Mothering Forum banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
120 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need help. My toddler has had me in tears several times today. He has been pulling my hair multiple times a day for probably 9 months, but I am reaching the end of my patience with it. I have tried to teach gentle touch, I keep my hair pulled back, I try to avoid "boredom" situations where he is more likely to do it.

But lately... we'll be sitting on the floor playing and he'll just reach in with two hands and grab, then hang there with all his weight. I can't tell you how badly this hurts. I've tried the "putting him down" strategy but it really doesn't work because he enjoys the tug-of-war that we have to do to disentangle him from my hair before I can even put him down.

So I spend ALL of our playtime trying to dodge grabby hands, not to mention the books, sippy cups, and toys that regularly come flying at my head. I am seriously afraid that he is going to break my nose with something one of these days.

Please help. This is making me not want to be around my child. I feel like I have sacrified all my dignity for him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
I am so sorry your toddler is acting up. Maybe he is acting this way for well maybe several reasons. He wants your attention, obviously. Secondly he is bored as you have stated. Have you tried taking him to play dates, YMCA? Maybe he needs to get out and run run run, burn off his energy. I know my 3 year drives me crazy if he doesnt burn off his energy.

Lastly, you could talk to your Pedia and get his/her opinion.

HOpe this helps a bit?

Melissa
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,642 Posts
I am going to be watching this thread for some advice too, my grandson is 15 months and when he is playing he will grab and pinch our faces or arms and bite ... also when he is mad he will smack his head into you or into a wall ... ugg... he is normally very happy and fun but its really hard when he hurts himself or one of us
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
311 Posts
What worked for me when DS was little was to put him down and walk off. I would just say "No hitting. (Or pulling hair, or biting or whatever.) That hurts Mommy. I won't play with you when you hit me." Don't raise your voice, don't try to reason with him, just disengage. And do it every single time. Consistency is key here! Additionally, if he is 3 he is old enough for time-out. Don't try to drive yourself nuts trying to talk to him about why he does it, all toddlers hear is "Bla, bla, bla." Reasoning with a toddler is like trying to nail jello to the wall. Short statements, and then withdraw attention.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,122 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by bl987ue View Post
What worked for me when DS was little was to put him down and walk off. I would just say "No hitting. (Or pulling hair, or biting or whatever.) That hurts Mommy. I won't play with you when you hit me." Don't raise your voice, don't try to reason with him, just disengage. And do it every single time. Consistency is key here!.
I agree with this. DS started to hit me sometimes when he was about 2, and I would very firmly say NO, set him down, and walk away. I did this *every* time. Didn't get into long explanations, didn't use a soft voice, didn't grab his hands. Just set him down and left.

You mention that you spend playtime dodging flying things, dogding his hands, etc. It sounds like you need to *end* playtime if he starts being too rough. If you're dodging flying things and getting hurt enough to cry, you need to remove yourself. He needs to see that you won't let yourself be hurt by him -- even if you need to shut yourself in the bathroom for a while. Besides, it's a natural consequence that if we hurt someone, they don't want to play with us.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
i know exactly what you are going through, and I would have to agree that for the most part he is doing it for attention or a reaction. If you walk away letting them know you don't like that kind of behavour thay are not getting the attention or reaction they were looking for, but you do have to be consistant! It doesn't stop overnight.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,062 Posts
I just tell DS "no hitting" (or kicking, biting, etc) put him on the floor and leave the room for a minute. I do the same thing for bad nursing manners (pinching, hair pulling, kicking me in the tummy). He's only 18 months so I don't know how well that would work on an older toddler, but it helps us.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Sorry to hear that you are feeling so frustrated with the behavior. My DD (29months) went through an aggression phase. I didn't do the walking away thing, although sometimes I would step back a bit if I needed to protect myself. But as soon as I recovered my thinking, I would redirect rather than try to suppress, something toddlers naturally resist. So if your child goes to pull your hair, continue with the "Mommy likes gentle. That hurts, Mommy." And then say, "Hey, it seems like you really like to tug on things. Let's find something for you to tug on. Hmmm, how about this...."

So much of this is about understanding and respecting developmental stages. This is what toddlers do - they experiment with their own strength and sense of power. They thrive on spontaneous movement, and lack the self-control or forethought to think their actions through. I know my DD, she is sweet and loving, and yet, we went over a year with her going in and out of phases of aggression. It started at 13 months with her slapping my face, then she started throwing things at me, then she would kick me during diaper changes, then she'd hit the dog, etc....My point is this is what toddlers do. We can't just sit back and let them be hurtful, because they need us to teach them socially acceptable behavior, but we can communicate to them that we understand they have a need, and while we need to keep everyone safe from harm, we can still help them find ways to meet their need (i.e., when DD would hit our dog, I'd say, "Oh, that hurts him. Mommy needs to keep him safe. Let's find something else you can hit. Here, hit Sparky (stuffed dog)...- it won't hurt Sparky." Sometimes she'd try to go back for the dog, and I'd repeat what I said and eventually she'd gladly hit the stuffed dog, then she'd go around the room looking for other things she was able to hit. It was all about learning.)

I don't believe this is about attention, as long as the child is truly getting enough of the good kind. And if they're not, that should be the focus of the intervention. But if lots of time is being spent connecting in positive ways, than this is about experimentation and learning about cause and effect IMO.They are fascinated by their ability to elicit reactions from others. Respect that need in the child while still helping the child respect your need to be safe from harm

BTW, this started when DD was 13 months, and over the past year and half, we are now at the point that all I have to say to her is ,"Mommy likes gentle", and she almost always redirects herself toward gentle. After months and months of practice, her brain is finally able to control her impulse toward aggression. Young toddlers do not have this impulse control, especially when the focus of the intervention has been about suppression. The urge is just too strong to control - and that urge has a purpose. But sometimes, even at 29 months, when other things are going on in her brain, she's not able to control herself as well. On those occasions, she needs my help more. I repeat that I like gentle, and help her find an object to use roughly. There's no tension here. Actually, when we find safe objects for her to use aggressively together, we actually connect through the joint problem-solving we're doing. Who would ever think that aggression could equal connection? But it can.

The key with behavior, regardless of the age of the child, is not to expect immediate behavioral results. This behavior has served a purpose for the child for nine months, and he isn't going to be able to let it go easily. Expect him to hear your redirection, and still try to persist with what he's doing. That's not bad or attention seeking, and it doesn't mean the intervention isn't "working"; that's the goal-directed, "I need to finish what I started" thinking of the toddler. They're determined and that's a good thing.

Just stay calm and persistant and he'll follow your lead. If he resists, make the redirection playful and he'll be that much more likely to join in.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,324 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by Abigail's mom View Post
I didn't do the walking away thing, although sometimes I would step back a bit if I needed to protect myself. But as soon as I recovered my thinking, I would redirect rather than try to suppress, something toddlers naturally resist. So if your child goes to pull your hair, continue with the "Mommy likes gentle. That hurts, Mommy." And then say, "Hey, it seems like you really like to tug on things. Let's find something for you to tug on. Hmmm, how about this...."

So much of this is about understanding and respecting developmental stages. This is what toddlers do - they experiment with their own strength and sense of power. They thrive on spontaneous movement, and lack the self-control or forethought to think their actions through. I know my DD, she is sweet and loving, and yet, we went over a year with her going in and out of phases of aggression. It started at 13 months with her slapping my face, then she started throwing things at me, then she would kick me during diaper changes, then she'd hit the dog, etc....My point is this is what toddlers do. We can't just sit back and let them be hurtful, because they need us to teach them socially acceptable behavior, but we can communicate to them that we understand they have a need, and while we need to keep everyone safe from harm, we can still help them find ways to meet their need (i.e., when DD would hit our dog, I'd say, "Oh, that hurts him. Mommy needs to keep him safe. Let's find something else you can hit. Here, hit Sparky (stuffed dog)...- it won't hurt Sparky." Sometimes she'd try to go back for the dog, and I'd repeat what I said and eventually she'd gladly hit the stuffed dog, then she'd go around the room looking for other things she was able to hit. It was all about learning.)
: All of it, but especially the part I bolded.

When my ds would hit our dog (because she was too close to him), I made sure he knew an acceptable way of telling her to back off. I told him to hold his hand up and say "move!" and to yell for me if she didn't listen.

There have been a few times that ds got too rough with play (he was younger- maybe 18mos), and I'd say "no, you can't jump on my stomach. But there are lots of other ways we can play together that are really fun!" so I'd suggest a few things, and maybe we'd end up with him hanging on my legs while I lifted them in the air, or maybe we'd end up with me helping him jump really high.

I think it's really important to be clear that hurting you is not acceptable, and to let ds know that there are socially acceptable ways to express his impulse.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
The hair pulling may be an easy fix. When he grabs on sit down and he won't be able to hang. If he pulls just let him do it and draw your attention to something else. The TV the Radio or a Pet. Don't give him a second of attention for this behavior. If for some reason you are in such bad pain there is a more simple way to get him to release his grip. Use your thumb to press on the inside of his wrist. There is a pressure point and as soon as you hit it he will release. As soon as he is free from your hair. Put him in a play pen in a seperate room from you. Tell him you will not play with boys/girls who try to hurt people, give them owies, etc. Walk away and give him an appropriate time out for his/her age. Then return and ask if he is going to hurt mommy anymore. If he answers no take him from time out. If he answers yes tell him he has to stay by himself for another how many minutes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,933 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by samanthad8883 View Post
The hair pulling may be an easy fix. When he grabs on sit down and he won't be able to hang. If he pulls just let him do it and draw your attention to something else. The TV the Radio or a Pet. Don't give him a second of attention for this behavior. If for some reason you are in such bad pain there is a more simple way to get him to release his grip. Use your thumb to press on the inside of his wrist. There is a pressure point and as soon as you hit it he will release. As soon as he is free from your hair. Put him in a play pen in a seperate room from you. Tell him you will not play with boys/girls who try to hurt people, give them owies, etc. Walk away and give him an appropriate time out for his/her age. Then return and ask if he is going to hurt mommy anymore. If he answers no take him from time out. If he answers yes tell him he has to stay by himself for another how many minutes.
A. grabbing someone by a pressure point HURTS. we do not advocate for violence towards children in any way shape or form.

B. love withdrawal is not a kind, respectful nor effective way to teach kindness, gentleness and respect for others.

C. i don't believe in time-outs in general but especially not for toddlers. developmentally inappropriate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
532 Posts
I have this problem too, and I've found one thing that works *some* of the time: I ask him to give mommy a big hug. Sometimes, especially when he's tired, he grabs at my face or hair because he just wants to be close to me. If I let him squeeze me as hard as he can, that seems to relax some of the tension and keep him from picking at me.

There are plenty of times when that doesn't work, but I'm just glad to have a little break now and then from the pain.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by samanthad8883 View Post
Tell him you will not play with boys/girls who try to hurt people, give them owies, etc. Walk away and give him an appropriate time out for his/her age. Then return and ask if he is going to hurt mommy anymore. If he answers no take him from time out. If he answers yes tell him he has to stay by himself for another how many minutes.
Wow, this seems to be the predominant mind set here, so I just wanted to present a different way to look at this - again.

Aren't we talking about a toddler here? They don't have the ability to consistently follow through with things they say they will or won't do, and IMO it's unfair to set them up to just need more punishment later because "they didn't do what they said they would". Sure, instilling fear in them is one way to get them to try really, really hard, so sometimes those time outs appear to "work", but eventually their impulsive nature will show itself again. What then? Still more time outs? More unnecessary disconnection? More tension within the household for everyone?!

Something more to consider: When children act aggressively, as almost all do at some point in their early development, what is the lesson we hope to teach them? Is it: "Don't act aggressively or I will do something unpleasant to you until you stop"?; or is it,"I understand you have a need you're trying to express. I'll try to help you learn how to express it safely"? Sure, in the short term the consequences may appear to work to suppress (and that's all - no meeting needs- just suppressing behavior). But what about the long term?

I came from an authoritarian home and had three siblings. We were given consequences for aggression until we stopped. So, what did we learn? Not to get caught of course! The urge did not just magically disappear, and in fact I feel I held onto it much longer because I never learned to express it appropriately. So, we expressed our urges when we didn't think our parents would hear. I did not internalize the value that hurting others was wrong until I was much older. It wasn't a lack of empathy because I am actually a very empathic person. It was the consequences that got in the way of feeling that empathy. All I could focus on were my feelings of resentment toward my parents or the person whom I perceived got me in trouble.

Now contrast that with my 29 month old daughter. She's no longer showing aggression much at all, and when she does, she often redirects herself, with out me having to say a word. Is that because I am a super mom or I have an extremely compliant child? Absolutely not! I'm a regular mom and she's actually an intense and determined little girl - high need from the get-go! But she's 29 months, and free from consequences, she has been helped to find ways to express her urge safely and appropriately. As an AP mom, I believe children can only move past needs once they are fully met. Her need to express her aggressive urges is being met and she is moving beyond it.

I strongly disagree with the pp that stated that toddlers have no ability to reason. My DD can be extremely reasonable - the key has been showing that reasonable behavior goes both ways, and it had to start with me. I would argue that isolating a young child for acting impulsively is not reasonable, especially given what we know about the functioning of their brain and their need to trust that they can always count on our love - unconditionally.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,642 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by Abigail's mom View Post
what is the lesson we hope to teach them? Is it: "Don't act aggressively or I will do something unpleasant to you until you stop"?; or is it,"I understand you have a need you're trying to express. I'll try to help you learn how to express it safely"? Sure, in the short term the consequences may appear to work to suppress (and that's all - no meeting needs- just suppressing behavior). But what about the long term?
Thank you for your wonderful post, I wonder if you wouldn't mind elaborating on HOW to help toddlers express themselves safely? This is the philosophy I have always embraced, but fell short with my kids, now I have a grandson trying to learn from a mom who was never properly taught. I think the problem is I never got the HOW part.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,388 Posts
What do you want your child to do when someone hurts him or her in the course of play? I want my child to first and foremost move away to a safe place, then figure out how to solve the problem. So this is what I always modeled. First, I would move yourself to a safe place. You don't want him to sit and get hit, for example, by his peers, so you need to not be a target as well. If he's hanging on your hair, the pp who suggested you make sure his weight is on the ground before doing anything else was right on. After you get his hands from your hair, stand up and move out of range. He probably can't get your hair if you are standing up. If he's throwing things, you may need to move further away. Only after you are safe can you deal with the situation. Don't let it escalate from throwing to pulling and DO NOT BE A VICTIM. Think about the message you are sending -- "love means taking abuse". No way do I want that message out there.

My next step would depend on how old a toddler this is. At 18 months I would probably say "We can't play X when you pull my hair, lets find something else to do" and that something else would probably be an outside play time with me watching put not within range of his hands. If he's 3, then I probably would say "You really hurt me and I need a minute to recover, why don't you do X while I do that" and then I would probably head to another room to collect myself and massage my scalp. Not punative, but also not letting things continue or escalate, and demonstrating that hurting has consequences to the other person.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25,048 Posts
Hi, everyone


Please remember the Gentle Discipline Forum Guidelines when posting:

Quote:
Effective discipline is based on loving guidance. It is based on the belief that children are born innately good and that our role as parents is to nurture their spirits as they learn about limits and boundaries, rather than to curb their tendencies toward wrongdoing. Effective discipline presumes that children have reasons for their behavior and that cooperation can be engaged to solve shared problems.
Also, here is a list of GD techniques that may or may not be of help
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
My daughter has responded well to me holding the hand that hit/grabbed/pinched, and saying "Ouch! That hurts. I don't like that." I have to be careful that my face looks genuinely unhappy, or it becomes a game and she does it again and giggles. But most often, she is responsive to a simple statement that it hurt, and I didn't like it. I am also modeling how I expect her to behave if someone hits her -- not to sit there and take it, or to hit back, but to be assertive in expressing when she's unhappy with how someone is treating her. If she tries to continue, I hold her hand and say "I won't let you hit me."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
434 Posts
A. grabbing someone by a pressure point HURTS. we do not advocate for violence towards children in any way shape or form.

I just wanted o make a comment on this.... while pressure points may not always be a good option. if you use them properly, the only thing "felt" is the electrical sense sent to the brain, and back to the muscles in the hand(in this instance) telling them to release and the corrosponding muscles to tighten in order to have the child let go. it is EXACTLY the same as if the child decided in their mind to let go and the brain sent the signal.

if you just squeeze at random until they let go.. THEN and only then.. are you inflicting pain.. that IS NOT a pressure point! A pressure point requires very little pressure at all and the joints and muscles loosen easily.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,324 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cherie2 View Post
Thank you for your wonderful post, I wonder if you wouldn't mind elaborating on HOW to help toddlers express themselves safely? This is the philosophy I have always embraced, but fell short with my kids, now I have a grandson trying to learn from a mom who was never properly taught. I think the problem is I never got the HOW part.
The book that helped me the most with this type of "honor the impulse" type thing was Becoming The Parent You Want To Be.
I can't even imagine how I would have parented if I'd not had a full grasp of "honor the impulse"!!!
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top