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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not sure if this is the right forum or not. I know my baby isn't deliberately trying to hurt me, but...

She's not quite 9 months old now and has reached a stage where she is constantly hitting me, pulling my hair, biting when nursing, clawing at my face, pinching me, kicking me, etc. It's like she's just figured out that she can do these things and is experimenting. None of my others have ever done this, so I'm not sure how to handle it. I tried reacting to it with, "Ow! That hurts Mommy!" and she just laughs. I don't want to encourage it by reacting, but it's awfully hard to ignore it. I have no idea how to get past this. I've been on the verge of tears all day because it just wasn't enjoyable to hold her. I wear her in a sling and she is scratching my face and neck all up. I imagine it's just a phase that will pass, but what do I do in the meantime?
 

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I think this is a very common thing. Your baby just wants to touch/stroke/fondle/tickle you just like you do to her. Unfortunately her motor skills are rudimentary at best so she goes to stroke and *darn* whack!!!
I coped by taking her hand and either hlding it away/down or guiding her in gentle touch. And saying over and over and over again "gentle" etc. I found it very challenging, it really pushes all of my buttons when someone slaps me in the face. It took weeks or months, and in the meantime I had to find ways to be close without encouraging a whack iykwim? find out the 'trigger' and avoid it. Easier said than done.
And repeat over and over "she doesn't mean to hurt". I have heard some people recommend hurting the baby whenever she hurts you, this strikes me as ineffective at best and abusive at worst. The baby does not have the ability to understand consequences, or to plan ahead and intend to hurt you, she just has immature motor skills and she is trying them out.
It will pass. ((hugs)))
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Susuhound
I have heard some people recommend hurting the baby whenever she hurts you, this strikes me as ineffective at best and abusive at worst.
: I can't imagine someone advocating deliberately hurting their baby. It gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

I think I've noticed that she gets worse the more tired she gets. My problem is that I normally cuddle her/wear her when she's overtired in order to get her to sleep. Hard to do when you're being whacked in the face. But, I'll try the mantra of "she doesn't mean to hurt me" and see if that helps. I really do feel like she's trying to play with me and thinks I'm having as much fun as she is. There's just no way to make her understand that I feel like I'm cuddling with Edward Scissorhands.

I felt really bad for my 5yo tonight. She wanted to move to the bottom of the bed because she didn't want to get hurt by the baby. That's just wrong, somehow.
It'll pass... It'll pass... She doesn't mean to hurt me...
 

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Yeah, she's really trying to connect with you, I think.

Mine has also been very boisterous. And did I mention strong!! Owie kazowie! It really does take a toll on you quickly.

It must be super-hard with other kids to protect.

I never thought of it with specific "techniques" to stop it or anything. I just remember (hard though it is
) what he's trying to do and give that to him in a more controlled way. I held his hands gently (but also to guide them) and hugged in a way that kept him away from vital organs and such...

I wish I had more solid help, but all I have is commiseration.

 

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But, this isn't ONLY when she is tired/frustrated? Does she do it when she fed and well napped too?

I like the first poster who said to grab her hand and show her "gentle"/"niiiiice". Make a nice game of it. Use a really soft lovee. I love those little blankees that are just big enough to hold, but are so soft. Rub her cheeks with that. Tell her "niiiice".

My other suggestion is to put her down. Even at nine months she can learn that she is going to sit on the floor if she is not being gentle.

I have a nine month old day care boy who pulls my hair. But, I look at his face, he is not frustrated or using agressive behavior. He just wants to see my hair. I can't wear neclaces or earrings either.

BUT, I had a girl who, when you looked in her eyes, it was agression. At nine months old, this girl DARED me to do something about it. LOL..I swear! She was being pure evil. SHe is seven now. She is still occasionally pure evil, but mostly a great and adorable seven year old.(she's my favorite) She still has A LOT of problems dealing with frustration and discomfort. Most of her frustration and discomfort stemmed from clothing. She hated the way clothes touched her body. She hated to be too close to anybody. Once we figured it out and respected that. (lightweight sundresses, no socks) she is fine. However, she was almost three before we figured out what bothers her so much.

So, my point is, it may be that she is just trying to touch you. But at nine months, these kids are smart! She may also be trying to hit you and pull your hair. That is not OK for her to do. But please try to figure out what is bothering her. If indeed she is being agressive, I can't imagine you gave birth to the Spawn of Satan, so there must be a reason she is lashing out. What could be making her so crabby? Maybe she needs more space when she is tired. Maybe she would rather lie on the couch and have her bottom patted while you watch TV. Maybe her clothes are too hot. Maybe she needs to just "chill" in a quiet room while you read to her, but not be carrying her.

Good luck. I bet she is adorable!!!!
 

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we have been battling this with Jet since he was maybe 2 months old (don't recall exactly, as soon as he could grab he was pulling hair/fur and scratching faces). He is 13 months now.

When we say "Ouch that hurts mommy/daddy" we get a TOTAL MELTDOWN. So be glad your DD giggles
.

Our strategy has been to practice "gentle gentle" about as often as we breathe. We say something like "gentle gentle feel the dogs fur, it is so nice to be gentle" while we actually physically show him how to be gentle by petting with his hand (later we modified it since he can understand our example now we rarely physically move his hand). We do "gentle gentle" with his dolls, the dog, paper, our faces, jet's own hair, pretty much everything. We are fortunate that LOVES the dog and the dog will not stick around if he is not gentle.

This is the first thing we ever did that reliably got Jet to laugh
he would laugh hysterically when we petted the dog with his hand.

Since we got lucky in establishing it as a game early on, we can use that instead of "ouch" because it is kind of a positive way of doing it ("I want you to be gentle" instead of "I want you to stop hurting me") and he knows what it means, and he likes to do it.

I think it is possible that they are the first words I say each day and the last I say each night. Still we have to keep way on top of his finger/toe nail clippings, otherwise we all end up with scratched up faces.

He actually still "spiritedly" rubs his face and pulls his ears and hair when he is tired so it is really mostly just something he is instinctivly doing... Since Jet is my little clone, I notice a lot of weird things I do that I didn't realize were hard coded into my DNA. I also rub my face quite a bit when tired (and even in the same way jet does) I just never realized it.

Oh also Edit after the fact, we found that "touch and feel" books also helped him get his "texture fix" and are a great distraction from face grabing, since they feel cool and are appropriate things to scratch/pull/poke. Of course now he gets annoyed when a book is not touch and feel... he will find something cool looking on the page and try to feel it and it is just smooth, then he gets annoyed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yep, Claire does that rubbing thing as well. If her nails are even slightly in need of clipping she'll have scabs in her ears, behind her ears, on her eyes, on her nose... You get the drift. I've been trying that gentle thing with her as well. She seems captivated by it... until I stop. Then she shrieks in delight and claws at my face again. Delightful. I'm teaching her to sign as well, so we do the gentle sign and I'll do it on her hand. She thinks that's great. Then it's time to hit some more. It's just a phase, right?
 

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Jet does it still, but he does it a lot less, so yeah it is a phase. I would find her a realistic doll, their faces feel "interesting" like mama's.
 

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i find that my dd - who is 8 months old does this a lot too.

i have taken to wearing a nursingnecklace all the time - its great, she grabs at it, chews on it and plays with it and quite often leave my face/hair/glasses alone.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by oliversmum2000
i find that my dd - who is 8 months old does this a lot too.

i have taken to wearing a nursingnecklace all the time - its great, she grabs at it, chews on it and plays with it and quite often leave my face/hair/glasses alone.
Good idea! I might try that! She doesn't strangle you with it?
 

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you mentioned you wear her in a sliing...maybe time to change to a back carry in a wrap, ergo, mei tai, etc. You could have a special toy that she loves attached so that she's not pulling your hair or scratching your neck...

Until she's calmed down, maybe wear your hear covered by a scarf or firm hat? Make a nursing necklace or wear a neckercheif she can grab instead of your skin??

Or sling her less often?

Maybe she would rather be rolling/crawling/sitting and playing. Some kids are just very physical...my 2nd is only 6 mo. and already for 2 months he's hard to carry--just too squiggly! He'd rather be on the floor twisting and rolling around...
 

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I use the Ergo for almost everything and generally just on my back -- now when he is tired and doing scratching/pinching, etc., I would especially only wear him on my back. And this way you can do the dishes or take a walk or other things and you are still wearing him.
 

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My dd, who is 17 months now, has been doing this as long as I can remember. We nursed until she was 13 months (I had to wean to take meds for RA) and she used to bite the heck out of my nipples and my boobs (yes, she would bite the boob.. not just the nipple!)

She has this idea that a proper way to greet someone/show them love is to smack them in the face. She will look you in the eye, smile at you, and hit you in your face. I've tried taking her hand and gently rubbing my face with it and saying gentle touch, and easy.. but she has a meltdown, just like a pp mentioned.

I just don't know what to do now. I know she's at the age where I need to do something... if I immediately sit her down after she hits, she'll have a full blown tantrum (I've tried that once) and the *gentle touch* isn't working either (I've been doing that with her since she was about 6 months old!)

So OP, I totally feel your frustration! I know that my dd doesn't intentionally hurt me either. In fact, the hitting of the face is actually an endearing thing to her (geez how do I stop that!). but when she tantrums she throws her head back so hard and I hate to do something that makes her tantrum. She's actually given me a black eye from hitting my nose really hard with her head before
I'm not sure if it's aggression... but my family members seem to label her as *violent* too and I don't want her to have that label, KWIM?

If you figure something out, let me know too!
 

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i am with you.
my baby started at about the same age as yours, and it was largely two reasons -
1) overtired, or
2) wanted to "touch" me the way i touched him.
i can't say how i knew, other than that i am his mama, but i did know that he was trying to "tickle" me, he just had no clue that what he was really doing was scratching the dickens out of me!
now he is 18 months and he only really does this violent/aggressive stuff when angry, say, if i take him out of the swing to go in the house for bathtime or take him off his tricycle to go eat lunch and it isn't what he wants. so now i know he "gets" the difference.
i suspsect your baby might be doing the same or similar - trying to playfully touch you, like that old analogy of a puppy that doesn't comprehend his own strength and that she is sometimes reacting when she is frsutrated b/c she can't communicate frustration with you. my guy would laugh like yours, which makes me think they really thought in their minds that they were playing with us. and if you start to analyze, it seems to make sense. some of the most favorite games of my boys involve mommy or daddy (or whomever) "playing" hurt by their touches, such as shoves, "punches," pillow tosses, or "kicks." it's in that "playful parenting" book as a concept to use to gain a new level of connectedness with your kid. the adult pretends that the kid is really strong/powerful and it boosts their confidence. in fact, i just did it tonight. i pushed him in the swing from the front and then let him "slam" into me with his feet and pretended to fall to the ground. he howled with laughter. and i bet you do it unitentionally and didn't even think twice about it being misinterpreted by baby. you probably "play fight" or something with your older kids and she sees it and wants to do that also. even those who don't condone any "fighting" and are "gentle parents" may still engage in pillow fighting or tickling-till-you-scream-fests or things that could be interpreted as aggressive to a 9 mo.
another thought on this is about my family and it may not pertain to you at ALL, but.....my kids are VERY vocal and "aggressive" b/c DP and i are those types of people. we are boisterous, active, loud people. so our kids get out of hand with their play b/c they have our personality traits. it just makes it that much more difficult to help them distinguish correct behavior from incorrect, but it isn't impossible. and the fact that you posted about it is a good indication that you care enough to figure it out.

so anyway, i think she probably misinterprets your "owww, that hurt mommy" and doesn't yet grasp the "gentle touches to mommy" concept. she thinks she is funny, but not because she is some sadistic, violent type to be on the lookout for. and for what it's worth, my 18 mo is my first to do the hitting/pinching kinds of actions also, so i am also learning as i go. no kid in our family, including extended family, did this stuff, so we had no clue that we could teach this stuff. but we did. so we have a really fun new challenge with our newest family member!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by lioralourie
you mentioned you wear her in a sliing...maybe time to change to a back carry in a wrap, ergo, mei tai, etc. You could have a special toy that she loves attached so that she's not pulling your hair or scratching your neck...

Until she's calmed down, maybe wear your hear covered by a scarf or firm hat? Make a nursing necklace or wear a neckercheif she can grab instead of your skin??

Or sling her less often?

Maybe she would rather be rolling/crawling/sitting and playing. Some kids are just very physical...my 2nd is only 6 mo. and already for 2 months he's hard to carry--just too squiggly! He'd rather be on the floor twisting and rolling around...
Sorry I wasn't clear. I should have said carrier. I used "sling" as a kind of all encompassing term. Reality is that she is exclusively wrapped or carried in a mei tai, with wraps being the preference. When I put her on my back she pulls my hair. I wear it up, but she graps the little hairs at the base of my neck. Yow! That hurts! I have tried a nursing necklace/toy & it helps some, but eventually she ends up back to pulling my hair. I'm not sure what's worse at this point, the hair pulling or the face scratching. Hmm...

She definitely does not want to be down. She hates being put down. If I'm not carrying her she is one unhappy baby.

I think some of the points of the pp's are accurate. We don't wrestle or anything, but dh does a lot of "flying" the kids. You know, he is on his back and he hoists them up in the air and flies them around. The baby watches that a lot and squeals with delight. I think she just likes the level of activity. Maybe her hitting is a sign that she's bored and wants to do something more active? I don't know. I've noticed that the "violence" gets worse when she's really tired. I'm trying to get her to sleep before she hits that point, but she really fights it. Once I get her to sleep, when she wakes up she's fine. The other day in the store she was fine walking around looking at everything. Maybe it's a combination of boredom and fatigue? I don't know, but I just want it to go away.

I think part of my insecurity about all of this is that she had craniosynostosis and had major skull surgery in April. Now every little yell out of her makes me think she might me in pain. I worry for her. I don't want to let her think that hitting me is ok, but at the same time, I am not doing well with telling her no about anything. Part of me just feels like she's been through so much already. Sigh... it's so very humbling. Just when I thought I had this motherhood thing somewhat figured out I get thrown a curveball.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nextcommercial
Good idea! I might try that! She doesn't strangle you with it?
it is an adjustable length necklace - as long as i dont have it too tight its not problem
 
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