Beaten up by my toddler and so down about it(56 Posts)
I feel like I'm constantly being beaten up by my own baby! Not really, but I would like advice from anyone who's been through similar.
My DS is 17 months and every day he hits, slaps, pinches, bites, scratches me. A lot of the time it's when he's breastfeeding. He'll just casually lean an arm back then slap me full-force in the face or neck. If I tell him no he thinks it's hilarious and repeats it with gusto. Once he hurt me enough to make me cry, which he thought was hysterically amusing and an invitation to pull my hair and hit me harder.
I'm also having a horrible time with him hitting other children at soft play/on play dates etc. No provocation is necessary; he'll just reach out and casually slap the face of a passing child. Again, if I tell him no he finds it funny and is even more keen to go on the offence. I'm so embarrassed, and always apologise to the por child and other parent. Parents tell me it's a phase and it will pass, but my DS seems rather more into this phase than his peers. It's so frustrating as I just don't understand why he does it. Can anyone offer advice?
If it helps you to know: he's an extremely attached baby. Breastfeeds every 2-3 hours day and night, co-sleeps, very clingy to me. I'm a full time mum. He's only ever spent a couple of hours at a time away from me, and only then with my DH or family. He's very distressed if he's not with me. He breastfeeds to sleep and only I can put him to sleep. He had a very traumatic start to life and endured a lot of horrible, painful medical procedures. He's also had some ongoing health issues, and has experienced a lot of pain through these. I don't know if any of this is relevant to the hitting, but it may help to explain why he is so attached to me.
DH and I are very quiet, non-aggressive people. DS has never experienced or witnessed any violence, or even any raised voices at home.
The whole thing - him hitting both me and his contemporaries - is really getting me down and I'd appreciate any advice or words of wisdom.
I think you need to start being firm and removing him from the situation that he is in - he is old enough now to learn.
So, if he hits you when breastfeeding, stop breastfeeding him immediately and explain why. If you do this every time he hits you, he will soon get the message.
Ditto with the soft play areas/play dates - as hard as it may be, I think you need to give him a warning the first time that he does it that you will go home if he does it again and follow through with the threat if he hits/bites a second time.
He does it because he is getting a reaction from you...don't react, stay calm but firm and he will soon learn the consequences of his actions.
I agree totally with ceebee. He is certainly old enough to be taught that this behaviour is not acceptable.
I can empathise with your feelings about being hit - DS1 used to think it was hilarious to hurt me by hitting or pulling my hair, at around the 17mo mark funnily enough. He doesn't do it any more (now 21mo), hasn't for a few months in fact. I used to resent having to stay quiet and not give him a funny response when he hurt me because I knew that would just egg him on. I used to detach him from my hair with a firm NO and he would go in the playpen for 2 minutes. I'm not sure the playpen method worked tbh - it's more likely he just grew out of it.
Hopefully yours will do the same soon!
I get the impression (and I could well be wrong) that your little one has a very strong character. I think you are enabling his clinginess by notbeing more firm with him. He probably thinks that he's in charge. He want to posses you (suckling like a new born) and is getting his own way at bed times and throwing a tantrum if you go out.
Imagine him at 3 when he is louder and bigger and able to use even more demanding and beguiling language to bend you to his will.
As for the lashing out at you and other kids. Do you physically restrain his arms when he is lashing out? Obviously not with an aim to hurt him in any way. Just to limit his movement.
Do you remove him from the situation immediately if he has hurt another child?
Are you using a low clear voice when you tell him no. Make eye contact and be dominant.
Hope I don't sound harsh. This will be a disappearing problem. And if you are happy with doing everything for him and being there 24/7 for him then fine! Will you be having any other children? Bear in mind that if the answer is yes, he will have to share you one day. Helping and allowing him to become more independent of you will be in his best interests and yours.
Calmly pick him up and put him somewhere else safe when he does it, like a naughty step or his cot. This worked to stop my DS pulling my hair at a similar age.
DS is a similar age and horrible as it sounds we've found he needs to get upset before things sink in - if he hurts me I give a sharp, quite loud NO, take his hands, look him firmly in the eye and say "you must NOT hurt mummy. Do NOT pull hair (etc)". He usually cries but that's the only way it seems to go in. I leave him for a minute and then go and give him a cuddle and say calmly "please don't pull my hair, it really hurts" and them move on.
I think you do need to be quite firm about some things and hurting for fun is one of them.
Oh and we also model 'gentle hands' and show how nice it feels to stroke each other if he starts to seem a bit slap-happy.
Thanks for all replies. DH and I have read through and discussed them all. DH feels like there is no real solution and we just have to wait for this to pass, and I am leaning towards that way of thinking too. He is only a baby, and most definitely would not understand being given a warning etc., or an explanation. I always show him gentle stroking, and make him stroke gently any child he has hurt (if said child hasn't run screaming in the other direction!), but now I've started to notice that he'll hit a child then immediately start stroking him/her. So he's got one half of the idea but not the other.
I'm a bit stuck between giving him no reaction and being firm with him. They seem to me to be opposite actions. I do agree that he is hitting for attention, and when I'm at home alone with him I don't react at all when he hurts me, as I've found that even grabbing his arm and/or saying no seems to encourage him further. However, this isn't an option when we're out, as it's just not fair to other parents or children if I totally ignore him hurting his playmates.
Oh, and no, we won't be having any more children. We've been to hell and back over the last year and a half, and the whole experience is not one either of us wants to repeat.
How about no reaction, but removing him from the situation? So if he hits you, maybe don't say anything at all but silently put him in his room / playpen etc for two minutes? I see the point about not reacting but he also needs to see some disincentive for doing these things. Sorry you have had such a bad time in general.
My almost-2yo is similarly clingy, co-sleeping etc. He went through this stage too, finding it hilarious to pull my hair, stick his fingers up my nose etc while bf. I think it was mainly a phase that he grew out of naturally, although I would say to him, as calmly as possible, "mummy sore, not hit mummy" etc.
You may find this book useful
If your child doesn't understand "no", I think he may need a developmental check up. Usually a baby understands "no" very young, as long as they are taught it. Please don't allow him to hit you and hope he will grow out of it, you will end up with a six year old who still lashes out for fun.
I meant to say- in my case it was clear my DS enjoyed having an impact on the world. He was definitely exploring his capabilities and toddlers will touch reach other through interest- but within a few months (I can't remember exactly) he now understands more about gentle touch etc. He also had a brief phase of practising "kiss it better" by bopping me then kissing my arm or whatever better, again just something he had to practice.
I kinda agree with Colditz, no stops any undesirable behaviour immediately here.
If he doesn't behave while breastfeeding then remove him, do not continue when he is hurting you.
I am usually very much of the "oh, they are too little to understand" camp, but this time I am very much with colditz and other posters. A calm but firm "no" and either holding his hands or putting him down the first time he hits you is required imho. It will be harder for him in the long run if you let him get away with behaviour that leaves you in tears. You won't do him any harm if you just calmly put him down or hold his hands. And if you start doing it now it will be much easier for you to bring yourself to do it more effectively when he is 4 and having real strops.
Agree with those that say stop BFing, and just put him down somewhere safe and walk away for a minute. Totally ignore the behaviour. At 17 months he's too young to understand anything else really.
ou do need gto perfect your stern face.
if he grabs you
if you do nothing you are asking for trouble later imo. if you do nothing you are effectively telling him its ok to hit out.
you are the parent. you should not be allowing your toddler to hit and bite with no consequences. yes he is a baby - but a baby old enough to start to push te boundaries and old enough to understand where the line should be drawn.
if you do nothing i think you will make a rod for your own back.
you do not have to react with anger - simply stop what you are doing and remove him - actions have consequences. he needs to learn that.
my DS has aspergers, but there is no way i would ever be a punch bag for him. In no other walk of life are you allowed to hit out - so you are doing him no favours by doing nothing and expecting it to pass.
you need to actively seek to stop this.
if ge grabs you then pull his hand away and say "don't do that" or "stop that".
I've taken to wagging my finger at dd to show I mean business.
it's really hard to do stern without sounding angry though
My dd was a bit like this at one stage. I found that immediately ignoring her helped. If she was on my lap I plonked her down and walked off. She didn't like that one bit. She worked it out eventually. It's a bit like dog training, ignore the bad behaviour and reward the good! I don't mean ignore him if he's hurting other children obviously, you need to remove him from the situation.
Well at that age my DS wouldn't have properly understood no, I don't think.
So I made sure I was always always within reach of him while in a situation with other kids so I could intervene before he could whack them. I'd catch his hand, tell him 'no, we don't hit' and then immediately distract him with a different activity.
When it came to breastfeeding, he was more of a pincher / biter. There is some good stuff on kellymom.com about nursing manners and the general recommendation is when they are rough, tell them no biting or whatever, put them down somewhere safe and walk away for a minute. Then come back and start again. And repeat.
For us the key has always been keeping it very low key so as not to be entertaining whilst ensuring that we take responsibility for not allowing him to hurt anyone (including ourselves) while he learns not to / grows out of it.
Babies and toddlers understand far more than we generally give them credit for, they are young, not stupid. Say "no", remove him from the situation and give minimal attention. Either he will learn because he understands or he will learn by conditioning. If a dog can be trained then a toddler certainly can.
Also, I don't quite see the logic in getting him to stroke the kid he has just whacked. I think this is a complicated and confusing message - so he thinks that the process is hit and then stroke.
I would think it might be better to drop that altogether, prevent the hit in the first place (yes it means you'll hardly ever get to sit down when he's with other kids) and then show him that its much more interesting to do this thing over here...
At 17 months he is well able to understand a firm NO you don't need to shout but you must remove him from the situation.It is NOt funny and you are doing him a disservice by 'waiting for it to pass'. You are just reinforcing the sense that his behaviour is acceptable. Quite soon other mums will be avoiding your son-no one wants their baby hurt and if you wont stop him they will by removing their children.
I realise that saying no and disciplining your baby can be very difficult but if you don't act now, you are storing up a whole heap of problems later on. 17 months is old enough to learn consequences of actions and much easier to do it now than when he is older and it will be more difficult.
He is only a baby, and most definitely would not understand being given a warning etc., or an explanation
I disagree... Babies much younger understand a "no".
If he laughs when you tell him off then you are not telling him off firm enough.. Low clear voice, stern face, removal from situation. I have a son who needs a really clear message too.
This will get only worse the older (bigger, stronger) he gets.
VicarInATutu said it very well.
Join the discussion
Please login first.