My toddler's keeps pulling other children's hair or lashing out for no reason

(7 Posts)
Lottie75 Fri 20-Nov-09 14:06:36

I have a 19 month old son who seems to be unable to play alongside other children of similar age to him without going up to them and pulling their hair or pushing them or trying to pinch them on the face. I don't know where he picked up this behaviour or why but it has been going on for several months now and is not getting any better. I tell him no each time and apologise to the parents but he is too young to understand what he is doing is wrong. It makes it very difficult to go to playgroups etc. as I constantly have to follow him round to avoid any of these things happening.
I was wondering if anyone else has expereienced similar behaviour from their children and if so are there any helpful hints on how to deal with this.

CocoK Fri 20-Nov-09 14:19:02

Hi - it's very normal, especially for children who aren't used to being around siblings at home. It's a stage that lots of children go through - he just doesn't know how to relate to other kids. So try to show him by modelling appropriate behaviour - i.e taking his hand and stroking cheek/hair instead of pinching/pulling (show him how to do it on yourself if you don't feel comfortable doing it on another child), saying/waving hello instead of pushing, etc. You will have to follow him around for a while keeping a close eye, but if you do this repeatedly he will get with the programme. If he really hurts someone I'd just remove him from the situation immediately - after a while he might start to see the connection. It's really tough when they are so young as they don't understand that what they are doing hurts, but if you can show consistently show him alternative ways of connecting with other kids you will be doing him a big favour long term.

nappyaddict Fri 20-Nov-09 14:39:15

My DS started doing this at about 21 months I think and is still doing it at 3.4

Babies and toddlers have poor impulse control and this is why they lash out for no apparent reason. It gets better as they get older.

There's no point in punishing them for something they aren't even thinking about doing. When they have poor impulse control they don't think before they do it so they aren't going to remember any previous consequences to stop them from doing it again.

Your best bet is distraction and avoidance. If you take him to the park, soft play, someone's house or wherever stick to him like glue. Do not take your eyes off him. Encourage him to wave and say hello when he goes up to the other children. If you see him about to lash out say be kind, gentle, nice or whatever, allow him to stroke the person if they are happy for him to do so and guide him to something else. DS also has a special toy (a rubber light up ball with knobbly bits on) that he keeps in his pocket. Every time he attempts to hurt somebody and I manage to stop it the toy comes out so he can mess with that and it keeps his hands occupied. We are hoping eventually when he is frustrated he will learn to get the ball out by himself instead of lashing out.

It can also be an attention thing. Do you spend a lot of time getting down on the floor and playing with him or reading to him? I split the day up into 3 and make sure he gets a minimum of 10 minutes of undivided attention from me doing whatever he wants (within reason). We do from waking up to lunch time, lunch time until dinner time and then dinner time until bed. Typically we do floor play when he wakes up, drawing, building or chasing him around outside or throwing him around in the air in the afternoon and then stories, singing and cuddles before bed.

It has been going on for so long with DS we have been told taking him to a cranial osteopath can help. If it goes on for longer than a few months I would seriously consider doing it.

chuckeyegg Fri 20-Nov-09 16:10:20

My DS is 3.1 and does this and it is a nightmare. He has a speech delay as well but I still tell him what he is doing is wrong. My DS is an only child and doesn't relate well to other children. Suggestions I have had are having just one child around to the house and get them to do an activity together, like painting. Big groups do seem to stress him.

Unfortunately following him is all you can do at the moment, hope it stops soon for both of us!

CantSleepWontSleep Fri 20-Nov-09 16:13:53

Quite normal, but frustrating for all involved. When my dd went through a phase of this, and I had to do something to pacify the other mums at toddler group, I used to put her on my lap at the edge of the room and hold down her arms (because she'd struggle and flail) whilst calmly explaining to her what she had done wrong. After a minute or so I would let her go. She got the message fairly soon .

Broodymomma Fri 20-Nov-09 16:22:13

Oh I feel for you. My son done this from pretty much nine months if sitting beside another child and its only recently calmed down and he is now 2.8.
I got to a stage where I had to stop taking him to situations such a toddler groups etc as it became utterly unbearable and I had a huge confidence knock after a mother had a go at me infront of other parents, she refused to accept my apology and it was awful. Ended up with me inn tears and feeling like my lovely child was hated. It was a awful time.
I know people say they wont learn to behave around other kids unless they are around them but sometime you do just need to take a breather from the situation.
We started the naught corner pretty early about 15 months as i just did not know how to handle it anymore. I had days where he had me in tears from pulling my hair and scratching at me. He has scarred my friends childs face also.
We stuck reliogiously with the time out technique and he started nursery 4 weeks ago and he is transformed. We have only had one day where he hit and I was the proudest mum ever to see him walk away from another little boy who hit him a few days ago saying "thats not nice".
You really do have to ride it out Im afraid and do whatever is easiest for yourself in the way of coping. I started feeling resentful towards ds that wherever we went it was always him hitting etc. It was so unfair as he did not understand but trust me it gets easier.
Just be consistant in whatever you choose to do so that he will start to connect the consequence to his action. Distraction never worked for us as the second he had the opportunity he was off hitting or shoving again.
Huge hug from me, i knwo its not very mn but if you feel anything like I did back then you will be needing it!!

nappyaddict Fri 20-Nov-09 21:52:52

Yes for the distraction to work you do have to be right next to them all the time ready to intercept without a second's warning.

One thing that I used to do was put them on the floor or a chair next to me every time they did it.

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