Monday, February 15, 2010

Tips From Experience

Question:  My 13 month old daughter hits us in the face, all the while smiling away.  What's the best way to handle this?

My Answer:  When your 13 month old hits you (often with a smile on her face ... it's a game to her, she's not trying to hurt you) firmly, without yelling, tell her, "no hitting" wait a few seconds, then take her hand and show her "gentle". Tell her in a softer voice, "show me gentle"... (help her gently touch your hand/face/arm), "gentle".  Do not just take it and keep brushing her hand away, and for pete's sake don't smile at her when she's hitting you, get firm with her so she knows that it does not make you happy when she does it.  If she hits you again after the whole routine above, put her down and ignore her for a minute or so.

Question:  Is my 1.5 year old too young for a time out? 

My Answer:  A 1.5 year old is not too young for a time out. It is important to give a clear warning first though.  For example, Ben is 18 months old and has just randomly hit another child.  Get down to Ben's level, look him in the eye, and using a firm, controlled voice, tell him, "Ben, no hitting.  No hitting.  Be gentle" and then use the "gentle" technique described in the above Q/A.  If, shortly afterward, Ben hits again then get back down to his level and tell him in your firm and controlled voice, "I said no hitting.  You hit Sarah and hurt her. Now you will have a timeout."   Take Ben to your chosen timeout spot and sit him there without any further eye contact or speaking from you, for a minute and a half.  for a toddler as young as this you may need to place him in a safe spot you can strap him in, like a booster chair at the table, but as he get's a little bit older and gets used to the timeout routine just take him to a small chair, rug, step, or spot and make him stay there on his own.    After a minute and a half, come back and give a brief recap of why they are there, ask him to tell the girl he hit, "sorry", tell him, "I forgive you" and then hug it out!  If he is not yet able to say the word sorry, just have him give a hug instead.  Even though they may not truely be sorry, and don't understand the word, for now they need to know that an apology helps make the person they hurt feel better.

Do you have any thoughts on these questions/ answers?  Any experiences of your own?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like great advice and I have seen you do this and it really works. If you stay calm the children stay calm and more willing to learn from the experience. To take this from your experience, these methods work best when done from the start of child rearing. But it is never too late to learn new ways to problem solve.


At home with my kiddos said...

I think this post was great! Good questions and answers. Little Buddy likes to scream really loud. Not just when he is protesting and angry. I'm doing my best by showing him a better way to express his feelings and having him "try again." i.e "No screaming sweet heart. Say cracker please." Any other suggestions?

Abby said...

I would drop the "sweet heart" part. It's confusing at his age to be combining a term of endearment with his unwanted behavior. You could just say, "No screaming, say cracker please" Be a little firmer with the "no screaming" part (controlled-firm, not angry) and more cheerful with the "cracker please" part since that's the part you want him to repeat. And then if after you try that a couple times in one outburst, just ignore him for a minute and try again after that. This might upset Sweet Angel who also has to listen to him scream, but what a great opportunity for her to see the learning of self-control from a third party point of view. Hope that helps! Thanks for the question!!

Abby said...

Lh- I completely agree, it is MUCH easier to nip a behavior in the bud early on than to correct it after it has had time to set in!

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