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How can I discipline an 18 month old, ie for hitting, throwing food, etc!

(22 Posts)
Janus Thu 10-Jan-02 17:08:51

I may be expecting too much but my 18 month old girl is quite boisterous and I'm finding it hard to know where to start on trying to discipline her, or even whether I should be trying to at this age??
For example, she has always been a horrendous eater and from advice from dieticians, etc, I was told to let her play with her food, squish it in her hands, generally do what she wants with it, as some may end up going in her mouth. She is getting a little better with food but the aftermath is that she still throws it everywhere. I've got used to doing a general sweep up after every meal but this is a bit embarrassing if you're out somewhere else trying to eat. I do now say 'no' when she does throw it, followed by 'naughty' to which she then sings back 'noooo' to me. This isn't having any effect on her.
The next thing I started doing is tapping her hand and saying 'no', 'naughty' in the way of a gentle slap with no way of hurting her. She thought this was hilarious and then started tapping her own hand and trying to say 'naughty'.
She has now started 'slapping out' at me, ie hitting my face but usually for no reason, ie not when she's upset, just as something to do really. I don't like this at all but have no idea of how to discipline her and make her realise that this is NOT something she should do. I think the tapping her hand has to stop as maybe this is where she learnt it??
I am at home with her so it is mostly my responsibility to discipline her, can anyone give me any ideas?

ChanelNo5 Thu 10-Jan-02 20:56:37

Janus - Your dd sounds just like my 19 mth old ds. He always throws food on the floor every mealtime and when I say 'No', he does it again with a smirk on his face looking straight at me. He is also quite boisterous, I think quite a lot of toddlers are at this age, as they are beginning to test boundaries etc, and he also has an older brother and sister and so is used to holding his own with bigger kids. I've also found that a gentle slap on the hand is causing the same response in him as in your dd.

I know that he is my 3rd and by now I should know what I'm doing, but really I'm at a loss about the best way to discipline him too, as nothing seems to work. I imagine alot of his naughtiness is him rivalling with his bro and sis for my and dh's attention. But this aside, he is strong-willed and confident for his age.

I too, would be really interested in, and appreciative of, any comments or ideas from others with experience of this sort of thing. Thanks!

Rozzy Thu 10-Jan-02 21:43:53

Message withdrawn

fms Thu 10-Jan-02 22:15:46

Not sure what age I started to instigate a "naughty corner", but it can't have been much later than about 18mths for my ds... also a bad eater! I probably used it for 5 or 6 times. Just used to send him into a corner of the kitchen for a couple of mins. Did the trick, and didn't seem to unbalance him in any way.
Also, try putting newspaper under the high chair at mealtimes. I only learnt this tip recently, and whish I'd known, as cleaning the floor was what I hated the most... and probably wound me up all the more seeing him chuck food down.

Janus Fri 11-Jan-02 16:04:11

I've heard people talk about naughty corner or naughty stair and may try this. I realise I'm a big girls blouse though as I know she will sob and sob and how do you keep them there anyway, she won't do it by my insisting! I'm so completely used to cleaning up now that this doesn't worry me, we have wooden floors and a dirtbuster thank god!! What I do get embarrassed about is when I go to friends and their children seem so well behaved and eat neatly!! I keep thinking they must be wondering how she got to be so bad but I think this is my problem and I must not really worry too much as they all know what a nightmare feeding has been for me.
My only worry about sending her to bed if she's naughty is that she'll associate bed with being naughty. She may then hate going to bed for normal naps and bedtime which she is pretty good at so I don't want to disrupt this but thanks for the idea.
Glad to hear, at least, that mine's not unique and totally relate to Chanelno5's comments on when you say 'no' they smirk and do it again, it almost makes me want to laugh too but I don't!
Thanks.

sis Fri 11-Jan-02 17:01:40

Janus, our (wonderful) childminder let slip that on the rare occassions when her charges were very naughty, they had to go and sit/lie on the sofa. This way, they were not allowed to play but she could keep an eye on all the children. We have used the sofa a few times with our ds and he has always understood the difference between normal sofa usuage and when he has been put on the sofa for naughty behaviour. I can understand your reservations about using your daughter's cot/bed though, but you might want to try the sofa - it also helps the calming down.

jodee Fri 11-Jan-02 17:40:35

Janus, Chanel - my 21 mo ds is pretty much the same. I used to get very stressed about it, and I also found that a tap on the hand had the same negative effect.
No room in our miniscule kitchen for the highchair so it is in the (carpeted) dining room, widely surrounded by newspaper, much easier than a plastic sheet that has to be wiped every day, the paper can be thrown away.
I know ds used to play up even more if he saw me getting annoyed. I have gradually learned not to make too much eye contact with him when he is feeding, as he laughs at me otherwise, and lowering my voice - it was no good at all shouting at him either. When he throws his food on the floor I tell him in a low, calm voice that 'no, we don't throw food on the floor in this house, thank you'. Gradually the message seems to be getting through (not always!). If he persists, then he gets a warning that there will be no pudding, and I stick to it if he does.
I do think, though, they also need lots of praise when they do eat nicely and finish their dinner, too much negativity could lead to them seeing mealtimes as something to be avoided, and their eating habits could get worse.
Good luck !

AliH Fri 11-Jan-02 22:15:23

I have a very difficult dd where eating is concerned, and we have been through every scenario of food wars there is, but here goes...

At around the age of 17mths, she started the throwing on the floor trick, except it was the bowl as well! After going throught the usual attempts to conquer the problem, it was solved by getting her down, showing her the food and bowl on the floor and telling her to eat it from there, and leaving the room. Clean floor required of course, but it took only about three meals for it to work.

Good luck

Babynick Fri 11-Jan-02 22:50:56

Food wise: avoid runny foods, keep life simple by giving toddlers foods they can eat with their fingers (as well as with a fork/spoon). Cucumber chunks or sticks, carrot sticks, bread sticks, cheese on toast, largeish pasta with a very little sauce etc. If sitting at the table in a high chair, a large (1.5 metre square) piece of plastic under will assist in clearing the mess. Keep portions small, so your toddler can easily eat all the food in their bowl.

Discipline: When it gets to deliberate throwing of food... be firm and consistant. Before you embark on this, decide what your action will be... and stick to it. For example, yogart! Yes, children love it... but it does get everywhere... so if your child starts to throw it around, then remove it completely. The child learns that if they throw the yogart around, they don't get the yogart, and thus should gobble it down in future before it's removed. By having small portions of food, you can do this with all types of food, if it starts to be deliberately thrown.

The key I feel is to provide food that toddlers can eat how they like, without making too much mess. Also don't put too much in their bowl, keep quantity low so they can be encouraged to finish what they have, by eating it - not throwing it. It is far easier to provide 'seconds', than it is to clear up unwanted food from the walls and ceiling!

Just some ideas. Nick.

ChanelNo5 Sat 12-Jan-02 21:09:14

Thanks for all your comments and ideas. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one facing a castrophe in my kitchen after every mealtime!

ancarra Mon 14-Jan-02 18:40:10

Have you tried reading Christopher Greens New Toddler Taming. I have joined the site as I am a parent with children old enough to make me a grand parent and I do a lot of work with mums and wanted to see what kind of things cropped up on this board

jasper Tue 15-Jan-02 00:33:22

Wellcome, Ancara, experienced mums particularly wellcome!
I have read toddler taming and thought it was wonderful. It is just so SANE! it helpfully points out a lot of toddler traits that are entirely normal and should not be viewed as problems.
My dd aged 13 months started chucking her (full) bowl off her high chair, so now she gets finger foods straight onto the high chair tray, without a bowl or plate.Anything runny I feed her myself with a spoon.She seems happy with this. As soon as she chucks anything off the tray I remove all remaining food and she gets nothing till the next meal. This has cured her! Mind you she now sometimes chucks food off as if to say "okay mum I'm finished!" Interestingly this is what Dr Green says food throwing is all about.

Janus Tue 15-Jan-02 11:49:35

Thanks for all the comments.
The problem with my little one (literally!) is that she's always been a terrible eater, hardly even on the centile in her red book, etc. If I started taking all food away from her when she chucks food then this would be heaven for her as I have to battle at each mealtime to get something down. Once I start getting any food in her then I have to keep the momentum going else she gives up again. Therefore, taking food away or sending her to a naughty stair is going to create more problems, I think.
One a separate note though, she did hit me again the other day so I took her off to the stairs, sat her on the bottom one (luckily the stairgate has to go on the second stair) and then shut the door on her so she was alone. She did half cry and I did only leave it for one minute before getting her but I think it did sink in a bit and shall do it again if she hits out again. This is a really good idea.

SarahJane Tue 22-Jan-02 19:19:03

I've read the messages with interest as I've got a problem with my 17 month-old daughter's infrequent anti-social behaviour with her "friends". She is generally well-behaved and sweet natured but when frustrated, cornered or having something snatched by another child can react quite aggressively, grabbing their cheeks, sticking her thumbs in their eyes or pulling hair. I have tried detaching her, telling her "no" firmly and making a fuss of the other child but this doesn't seem to prevent future incidents, probably because she gets what she ultimately wanted - ie. the other child to be separated from her so she could continue what she was originally doing... I have recently tried taking her away from the scene so that she loses what she was doing and this has more of an impact. However, it is still happening and apart from being embarassing, I do worry that she could do another child real damage if I didn't catch her quickly enough. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Janus Wed 23-Jan-02 12:30:13

I'm in the middle of reading 'Toddler Taming' by Dr Green and this is full of advice but mostly points out that children before the age of 3 really don't know they are doing anything wrong and have no self-control, therefore if grabbing to get a toy works that's what they will do. Obviously he does say you need to say this is wrong and I'm afraid I haven't got on to his chapter on how to discipline but as soon as I do I will post a summary! At least I feel a bit better already knowing that she's simply doing things the quickest way to get results and we've not produced a monster!!!!

ChanelNo5 Wed 23-Jan-02 12:33:46

sarahjane - Kids eh! Mine could (and can) be exactly the same so I know how you're feeling. I think your dd is still quite young, and alot of kids do go through a bit of an 'aggressive' phase at that age, when they are starting to become more independent, interact more with other children and starting to test the boundaries. My ds (age 20 mths) can be the like this, and especially since he is used to holding his own with other kids as he has an older brother and sister. When he is in any sort of group situation, I always stay within easy reach of him and keep my eye on him, so that at the first sign of trouble brewing, I can intervene before any harm is done. To actually deal with the problem when it does occur, I think the best way is to firmly let her know that you are cross with her actions, and remove her from the situation, either take her home or put her in her bedroom. She will soon realise that she has a better time playing nicely than missing out on the action. If you go into last weeks topics at the top, and look at a thread called '3 yr old being horrid to friends' you might find it helpful. Good Luck!

SarahJane Wed 23-Jan-02 17:18:07

Thanks for the advice - I spoke to some friends today (mothers of victims!)who reassured me that it just happens, it will pass and they are not making any judgments about me or her when it happens! Meanwhile, I will try to keep my cool and keep removing her from situations whilst giving her my "stern Mummy" look...

marysavannah Fri 31-Dec-04 08:47:44

Message withdrawn

aloha Fri 31-Dec-04 09:36:07

I really do think the best way to discourage behaviour you don't want is to simply ignore it as far as is possible. ie if your child is shrieking, ignore them until they are quiet/talking normally and if they hit you, put them down/walk away with no eye contact.

bonniej Fri 31-Dec-04 09:53:08

i've tapped my dds (18months) hand only once and she tapped me straight back so realised that wouldn't work. I also find the only way she eats well is if I ignore her when she's eating. She'll get on with her food fine then. I let her basically eat what she wants and then take it away when she's had enough, she only starts getting really messy with it when she's full. If she's not eating well, I will also cut back on snacks to ensure she's hungry at meal times. I've also stopped using the highchair and now have a booster seat which for some reason she seems to make less mess in.

mishiclaus Fri 31-Dec-04 11:18:11

hi all
i use time out for my ds who is 14mths...its just in the corner of living room and i dont make him sit there but i tell him if he carries on he will go in corner...he then will usually sit himself there for 20-30 secs having a moan....now he has actually calmed down with his slapping as he has never been slapped but decided it would be fun to try....i know some people will think this is harsh but he isnt isolaed or made to sit there its more he knows he will be moved away from whatever hes doing if he caries on and its naughty

mishiclaus Fri 31-Dec-04 11:19:29

sprry also meant to say that i do the ignoring for tantrums etc but its the hitting i use time out for

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