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Parents trying to tell me how to discipline ds - smacking (long)

(31 Posts)
Laura032004 Mon 22-Aug-05 06:59:40

Sorry if this is long..

DS (16m) and I staying with my parents at the moment on an extended holiday. We've been here 5 wks, and have another 2 wks to go. I'm now here by myself with ds (dh was here the last 3 wks, but has now gone home).

DS has been a bit of a biter / nipper for a while, but it hasn't really been a major problem until now. At home it happens once or twice a week, but at the moment, it's several times a day. It seems to happen if he's not getting all the attention he wants, or conversely, when he's getting lots of attention (rough play on floor kind of thing).

My response, at home, is usually to act very hurt and pretend to cry, and he seems to feel sorry and gives me/dh a cuddle to say sorry.

As it's been happening lots here, I've been saying no very sternly, and asking him to say sorry. If the person pretends to cry like I would, he will usually 'say sorry' in his way, but if they don't he doesn't appear at all remorseful.

TBH I think as soon as we go home, this will probably go back to normal, so I'm not too worried (but if anybody has a fab way of stopping this then let me know!).

The problem is, my parents aren't happy with the way I'm dealing with this. They started off saying that they would smack him if he did that again (if I wasn't right there but as it's a bungalow I can usually hear what he's up to).

Then my sister (she's 15) did smack him on the hand. Too hard in my opinion, and he was really upset. I went mad, and said nobody was to hit him. She said that she didn't think that I was doing enough when he was hurting her/them, but I said I was happy with what I was doing. She disagreed with me, but I said that if she wasn't going to treat him in the same way that I do, then she isn't responsible enough to look after him. She also said that my mum has said she will smack him (mum was there) and I said to both of them that nobody was to do that, and that it wasn't their place to discipline him in that way.

A day or two later, he nipped my dad, and he threatened to smack him if he did it again. I repeated nobody was to do that as we aren't going to smack him.

Yesterday he bit my mum. She didn't react in the sad way, so he didn't seem sorry. My dad was really mad and said that the way I was dealing with it wasn't working (hints of terrible things I've got to come if I don't deal with this now by smacking him....) and then walked out of the room.

What do you think I should do? Even if smacking has a place at older ages, I really don't think it does at this age. How else can I reprimand him? Any tips on what to say to my parents?

We're having a really nice time apart from this issue, but sadly this is really making me think about changing my flights home. I think I would apart from the fact that I'm accompanying my sister back to her boarding school on the way back.

WideWebWitch Mon 22-Aug-05 07:03:20

You're utterly in the right imo. Stay calm, keep repeating like a stuck record that you don't do smacking and you don't want anyone else to either. 16mo is WAY too young to understand this and the biting is normal, he'll stop in the end and you're along the right lines in dealing with it, i.e. ignore or briefly tell off for bad behaviour, praise good behaviour. Your parents need to respect your wishes, stick to your guns.

Laura032004 Mon 22-Aug-05 07:13:23

Thanks WWW. It's nice to hear somebody else agrees with me. I feel like I'm on my own with this at the moment.

katierocket Mon 22-Aug-05 07:20:40

stick to your guns, definitely. FWIW everytime he bites I would just say NO very firmly then remove him from the room. Eventually he will learn that biting means he's excluded and he'll stop it. I would stop the looking sad thing as possibly he could start to play a sort of game to get mummy to look sad IFYKWIM.

It's a hard one re: your parents. I think all you can do is say something like, "look I appreciate that you thinking smacking is the way to deal with this but it's not the way I want to deal with it and I would appreciate it if you respected my wishes". I don't think you will convince them but as long as they are not going against what you want I think that's the best you can hope for.

SleepySuzy Mon 22-Aug-05 07:29:40

I agree wholeheartedly with katierocket. I used to work with challenging behaviours, and he is nowhere near as severe as the people I worked with but this definately worked. I also like the way she suggests you approach others about it.

bobbybob Mon 22-Aug-05 07:35:02

I agree to just say "no biting in this family" and remove him for a short time.

Please ask your parents how smacking him teaches him that biting is wrong. Wouldn't he just start smacking people?

Why the heck is your dad getting mad because a baby bites his wife - has he no control over his emotions? Maybe he's more like your ds than he cares to admit!

Laura032004 Mon 22-Aug-05 07:36:51

Good idea about changing the looking sad thing - he's quickly picking up on games like that (why did we teach him it was fun to scream when people are pretending to be asleep?!?)

When I remove him from the room, do I go with him? The only option is our bedroom (we're sharing).

bobbybob Mon 22-Aug-05 07:42:00

I find the hallway works fine - nice and boring. You only have to remove him for a few seconds, and then say "are you ready to come back now?" and bring him back in.

Katemum Mon 22-Aug-05 07:45:48

Its more about losing all the attention than where you need to go. The hallway with his face towards the wall for a very short time would do.

Laura032004 Mon 22-Aug-05 07:50:13

That's exactly my thoughts about smacking BB. I can't understand why anybody would do that to a child of his age.

Laura032004 Mon 22-Aug-05 07:56:52

Unfortuately the hallway is where the computer is, so not really boring enough, but we'll try going into the bedroom whenever it happens, and see how we get on.

It's difficult to keep saying no smacking, because I'm essentially saying what they did with us is wrong, but that's what they're doing to me.

Twiglett Mon 22-Aug-05 08:16:41

OK I think you're right and wrong at the same time

I think you're totally right about no smacking and demanding that all your family discipline your child the way you want .. you should definitely keep reinforcing that and if they disagree with you then leave

I think you're totally wrong in your reaction to biting though .. you have made it a game by giving a sad reaction .. all you need to do IMO is say NO firmly put him down and ignore him for a minute and a half .. every single time .. biting = no attention rather than lots of funny faces from mummy

Twiglett Mon 22-Aug-05 08:18:06

also think you need to cut your parents some slack .. it is difficult to hold back from the way they have brought up their children .. and they've done a great job if you are happy to spend 7 weeks in their house havne't they?

they are trying to help

and when they're bitten its an instinctive gut reaction that is difficult to pull back on ..

so I wouldn't get too annoyed

Laura032004 Mon 22-Aug-05 08:25:22

Thanks for that response Twiglett. I think the problem with my response was that it worked when it only happened once a week (and I was trying to teach him that biting = pain for me), but now that it's so frequent, it could be viewed as a game for him.

triceratops Mon 22-Aug-05 08:59:51

I have just been on hols with my SIL and her kids. She smacks (even the 12 month old) and I don't. It has led to some friction. Ds is three and he is sometimes naughty (shock horror) which I deal with by removal of treats/time out/being cross or the worst threat - counting to three . My nieces and nephew get a smack for not finishing their tea/ picking up a dead crabs leg on the beach/ fighting and smacking each other etc. usually when SIL is tired and fed up.

My SIL and her kids wanted me to smack my ds and they were cross when I didn't as they thought he was getting away with things. Their motive seemed to come from wanting to make him cry more than wanting to change his behaviour.

Stick to your guns. You are the mummy. All babies go through the biting stage and putting them down on the floor every time they do it seems to work for us.

aloha Mon 22-Aug-05 09:07:50

Your child is really too young to have any comprehension of a/your pain - babies just don't have the mental apparatus to imagine they are you and imagine what you are experiencing - that's actually a really complex thing. And b/what sorry means. To him it's a word and part of a game.
Give up totally on trying to teach him those things - you might as well be trying to teach him particle physics - and instead ignore the behaviour. Twiglett is absolutely right. Just put him down, brief 'no' or 'no biting' withdraw eye contact and move away from him, or just very briefly put him out the door (a few seconds). You are teaching him a simple association - biting = no attention. Think of it as puppy training. You don't expect a puppy to understand that biting hurts and that it should be sorry, but you can still train it not to bite.
Explain what you are doing to your parents and ask them to support you.

Laura032004 Mon 22-Aug-05 09:18:25

I'd have to disagree slightly there aloha. We've been doing baby signing with ds since he was about 9 months, so every time he hurts himself, we do the sign for pain. If I hurt myself, or he bites me, I do the sign and say that mummy has a pain. I'm sure that he is connecting what he feels with what we feel. If he hurts himself, he will now come up to me and indicate where the pain is using the sign.

Twiglett Mon 22-Aug-05 09:36:22

No aloha is right .. he might understand the signs but babies have no 'theory of mind' that means they are totally egotistical .. the world revolves around them .. they cannot empathise ..it is mentally impossible for a baby to appreciate someone else is in pain .. they just see the signs and think that's interesting

theory of mind comes later in development

WigWamBam Mon 22-Aug-05 09:42:51

I agree with Twiglett and aloha. The fact that he understands what pain means and that something hurts doesn't mean he has any empathy with that pain in someone else - children of that age are not emotionally capable of equating what they feel with how someone else feels.

He may understand the word or the sign, but he is not capable of understanding that anyone else can feel that pain. Understanding the sign or the word doesn't give him empathy - children don't develop that until much later.

I also agree that by making the faces and pretending to cry, you have turned it into a game, and he's probably biting as much for the response as anything else; you are providing him with a lot of entertainment when he bites you. The advice you have had about removing him from your company is good - eventually he will realise that biting means no play and no fun for a while.

flashingnose Mon 22-Aug-05 09:44:32

Completely agree with Twiglett - firm "No biting", put him down/away and ignore him for a minute or two - no reactions at all. At the moment he gets a sign and a sad look and everyone starts arguing = lots of reactions!

jac34 Mon 22-Aug-05 09:58:39

My one DS went through a phase of biting realy hard, he drew blood and left bruses on his brother frequently.
I followed all the "modern", ways of dealing with it, making a fuss of the other child, time out on bottom stair, getting him to be sorry, etc..with absolutely no improvement.
During this phase my Mum kept telling me to bite him back, which I wouldn't do.However,one day at nursery he got bitten back by another child, and guess what, he never bit anyone again.
Sometimes, Mums do know best!!

aloha Mon 22-Aug-05 10:00:24

I would never do that, personally. I think that it is a mistake to do lots of different things. Consistency is key IME. Just ignore and ignore and ignore. It has worked for everyone I have ever known do it, including me.

hunkermunker Mon 22-Aug-05 10:02:36

DS is also 16mo and I would be livid if anybody smacked him or suggested I smack him. He doesn't bite, but if he did, I would say no, and ignore him for a while. I also agree that at this age, children have no concept of "other people's pain" - and DS also signs.

I would say to your parents that I'm sorry DS is biting them, but you don't think that smacking him for biting them is really going to teach him that hurting somebody is wrong. Either that, or whenever they do something you don't agree with, whack them

Blu Mon 22-Aug-05 10:03:11

Good luck Laura - I agree with everyone else, and had v good results with simply immediately putting DS down and a little away from me with v little fuss or comment.
You ARE right about the no smacking, and about having the right to stop anyone else smacking him - I hope you have a relaxing couple of weeks.

Papillon Mon 22-Aug-05 10:08:31

its a stage and why should smacking be used at every stage - communication, non-violent body language is far more effective imo in the long term.

You are experiencing a different viewpoint from your family and that will be hard - but stick to what you feel is right. I am the same - my sister and parents did smacking, I don´t.

What I do if dd has tried scratching or biting is to say ´finished´- she knows I mean no more and that I move away from her - ie, no further interaction in the game, activity we were involved in. Its like when a baby bites when breastfeeding. Take them off the breast. They get the message and depending on personality will respond by no further biting.

All the best!

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