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Hitting 17 mo - what level is normal and how to stop it?

(8 Posts)
blueglitter Wed 24-Aug-11 11:51:57

My DS does a lot of hitting - this week his childminder has thrown in the towel because she cannot cope with it. (more on this later).

He hits several times a day seemingly for a variety of reasons: tantruming & frustration when he is stopped for doing something he wants to do (fiddle with tumble dryer) or when he has to do something he doesn't (nappy change).

Sometimes in interaction with other children - will head over and give open handed slap, he's big and tall for his age and strong with it so if he slaps a adult on the leg like that, it's not such a biggie but whacking another toddler on the back, head, arm - worst - face is obviously a problem.

Just out of the blue - like last night as I was putting into his cot and be particularly loving sob he hit me in the face and said 'funny'. And apparently does this towards other children says CM (more on this later).

It's always much worse when he's tired or teething, the latter which he has been pretty much constantly for the last month.

Other than the hitting he is a lovely little boy, developing normally otherwise, speaks a handful of words, very sociable, extremely active walking running climbing etc. His attention span is at the shorter end of normal but I would say it's normal because there are times when he will concentrate on a task or toy for several minutes. However I'm a FTM so what do I know really?!

I work full time and the time I spend with DS tends to be with family (DH, DS and me) rather than with other kids at play centres etc so hard for me give an accurate gauge of what happens in those situations. When he does play with other children in my company he plays alongside pretty well with some hitting, definitely more than I'd like, but nothing like the level reported by the CM. (more on this later!). He does a lot of chucking things about - eg sand in the sandpit, which is a PITA if it's busy and it gets in other children's faces, but it's not deliberate so this is something I would consider normal for a boisterous child.

The reach and slap greeting/interaction has been going on for months on and off - the more frustrated stuff has been a gradual build up. The way DH and I have been dealing with it is at the start showing gentle behaviour, demonstrating stroking not hitting etc -this has been quite successful as a lot to the time he gives gentle strokes and look round for praise. With the more aggressive hitting it's a firm 'no, we don't hit' and then move him away from the other child, which works just because he's away from them but doesn't feel like it's changed his intent at all. If it's us 'no, we don't hit hitting hurts mummy etc. Which doesn't have much impact frankly.

Now, the picture painted by the CM when it all came to a head this week is of an unrecognisable monster! She said he 'punched' her in the face, yanks her daughter's hair (it's just DS and her 2yo daughter there four days a week), constantly hits her daughter to point where she is now cowering away from him, has had to be removed from play centres...

OMG I'm so ashamed and upset and panicked that actually there is something really wrong with him developmentally! We'd obviously talked about the hitting and we had a meeting about it some months ago and developed some strategies which she led me to believe were largely working. But this has really been a shock.

So my questions are does this sound normal, has anyone been through this and does anybody have any strategies that have worked? Help!

Firsttimer7259 Thu 25-Aug-11 13:30:23

Didn't want to leave this unanswered. I am not sure why you jump to thinking something's wrong developmentally. Your post doesnt say how old he is, apart from that he's big and strong for his age. I dont see how hitting suddenly becomes a development issue rather than a behaviour issue. Its horrible to be 'chucked' by a CM (its happened to us too) but thats another issue.

Is your boy older or younger than the CMs girl? To know whether his hitting is really a serious issue will depend a bit on his age I guess. It sounds like you are doing the right things around stopping him hitting. Whether you need to step up from creating an awareness that hitting isnt nice for the person being hit to disciplining him more strongly really depends on how old he is, and how much he understands he's behaving badly. I think. How old is he?

I think you should see the CM quitting as just a sign that he didnt fit into that particular situation any more. Not that your son is impossible around other children generally. Maybe he needs a different constellation of people/activities to help him blow off steam or to teach him not to hit more effectively than you ahve managed so far. Please remember all children have phases of doing things we rather they didnt.

Firsttimer7259 Thu 25-Aug-11 13:33:47

Doh! He's 17 months. Thats v young so I guess you just need to keep going with creating an awareness that hittings no good and what to do instead.

If CM cant manage a 17 month old and a 2 yr old then that says more about the context. Maybe its all a bit too small and indoorsy? Maybe your boy would be better off with a nursery or paired up with children that a physically more his equal? Not that this means you dont have to teach him not to hit. But just to see that at CMs maybe it wasnt a good situation for him given how he is just now

cottonreels Thu 25-Aug-11 22:11:12

You need to look up schemas. My dd 22mths also hits (and likes to throw and do actions to songs that have big arm movements).
We say simply
no hitting.
It doesnt stop her but she knows that we dont like it.
sounds normmal to me.

cottonreels Thu 25-Aug-11 22:12:19

The situation you describe reflects badly on the cm not on you ds.

skybluepearl Fri 26-Aug-11 21:12:21

Gosh i wouldn't tollerate any hitting what so ever. Like your softly softly approach but think you could use naughty step or remove son to a different room and withdraw attention. Give all the attention to the victim.

Sleepglorioussleep Fri 26-Aug-11 22:34:49

I don't think op is tolerating hitting. She said she removed toddler from other child and said "no hitting". Too young for time out.
Op-does your son have much language yet? Our ds hit and bit a lot at that age but this has become less and less as his language has expanded. Your cm has a right to say she doesn't want to look after him, but it doesn't mean he's necessarily got an abnormal problem. Just that she chooses not to deal with it. Tbh, our cm has never had a biting or hitting problem with ds, which speaks volumes about her (and us I guess blush).
Most people understand this kind of thing pretty well in toddlers. I would expect a response from you if it happened at, say, a toddler group but would bit think badly of you because I've been there too. I'd also expect you to be close by him and monitoring him. Tbh toddler groups were a nightmare for a while because I was always close to ds ready to swoop if he looked close to biting or hitting.
Good luck. It's really stressful but it will get better, with development and vigilant, consistent (mostly!) management.

blueglitter Sat 27-Aug-11 12:03:28

Thanks Firsttimer for starting the ball rolling with responses - thought my War and Peace version of events had probably put people off! The CM's daughter was two incidentally and DS is only the second child other than her own she has looked after - she started when her daughter was about 16 months. I think it's a combination of not a brilliant set up (v small children's room) and her being a bit inexperienced and it all getting too much for her. We've had a good chat about it since my op. I was worried about DS developmentally because she had used some fairly emotive language when describing his behaviour but she rowed back from that when we talked last.

Cotton - thanks for the schemas tip off, not heard of that before.

Sleep - I do find toddler groups stressful at the mo - know what you mean about swooping in! Good to know it gets better once they start talking more. A lot of it is communication frustration but the hitting in excitement/greeting is harder to know how to tackle - although thinking about it that a form of communication as well I guess.

Skyblue I certainly don't tolerate it. I'm planning to use time out/naughty step when DS is older but everything I've read seems to suggest that you don't have much chance of them understanding what it's about until 2 - 2 1/2. Have you had positive results using the naughty step at 17 months?

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