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17 month old hitting and major tantrum issues

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  • 17 month old hitting and major tantrum issues

    My friend is not registered yet so I'm posting this . Luckily I'm not dealing with this myself (our daughters one day apart).

    Anyway, her daughter started hitting at around 11 months. now if she doesn't get her she'll resort to hitting ie. if you pick her up, if you try to redirect it, or most disturbing was yesterday a friend's older daughter was following her about five feet behind to keep an eye on her so she wouldn't leave the playground and her daughter actually turned around, walked the distance between her and the older girl and tried to hit her because she knew she was following her. She also hits her dog and cat and also yesterday when her father picked her up she hit him and when he tried to stop her she tried to head butt him! And then when that didn't work she hissed/spit at him.

    On top of that, when she doesn't get her way it turns into a major tantrum and she will throw herself on the floor and start hitting her head on the floor even. And forget the car, she screams incessantly in the car now as well.

    My friend is at a loss at what to do and I want to know how sheshould handle it as well. Because of me she has become more AP and I want her to keep going.

    Thanks!!

  • #2
    The first thing that came to my mind was wondering how your friend disciplined her child. Does your friend spank her child? I just wonder if that child is thinking that hitting is okay if she is spanked. Correct me anyone if I'm wrong, but I thought that if a child was spanked that it lead the child to think that hitting may be okay. If the child is not spanked, then I bet that teaching the Baby Signs for pain (we say "owie") to teach empathy would help the child to understand that hitting hurts and teaching that it is sad to be hurt. Our son now says, "Sorry" on his own (at 21 months) if he hurts someone/something (he likes to throw rocks, etc. at our dogs and cats sometimes) and gives hugs and kisses. We make him sit in a time out or a time in too for hitting or throwing hard toys. I think it's just a phase at this age that children go through as they have so many emotions that they do not know how to express. But, they do know that they get attention from their misbehavior too. Itsy Bitsy Yoga can also be taught to the child to help with tantrums, etc. Hopefully it will get better.
    Last edited by loveleighbird; 05-19-2008, 08:49 AM.

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    • #3
      I don't really have any "magic bullet" advice other than to reassure your friend that this will pass. I have a lot of empathy with your friend; my daughter went through a shoving phase, and one of her friends bit her or pulled her hair pretty much every time he saw her for a year. My son has been in a hair-pulling and biting phase for about nine months.

      I would definitely agree that trying to encourage empathy with the person who has been hurt is worthwhile, but I wouldn't expect any miracles at this age. It seemed to me both with my daughter and her friend (as well as my son now) that nothing we did really had much of an effect in stopping the behavior, though it may have had beneficial effects in the long term.

      I would suggest trying to figure out when these situations are likely to occur, so the parents can be extra vigilant at those times. I would also look for patterns -- is it possible that she's tired or hungry when these outbursts occur?

      Also, I will say that I have personally found it necessary to physically separate myself from my toddlers (e.g. with a baby gate) for short periods when they are biting me, pulling my hair, hitting me, etc. While I have heard that some children respond well to techniques like snuggling or playing together, my kids have viewed these as more opportunities to hit me. I don't really feel that letting my children hurt me can possibly be beneficial for either one of us.

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      • #4
        After my doom and gloom in the last post, it occurred to me that I can think of one strategy she may not have tried that I have seen have a positive effect.

        Kids usually do this kind of thing because they don't yet have the skills and maturity to handle the situation in a more appropriate way. So it is worth trying to figure out how the child is feeling/what she is trying to achieve, and see if there is anything that can be done to teach more appropriate ways of expressing her feelings or accomplishing her goals.

        For example, she may be hitting the dog and the cat because she wants to interact with them. So emphasizing the positive -- what she CAN do to play with them, rather than what she can't -- may be helpful.

        Regarding what happened with her father, it may help to try to put yourself in her shoes. Presumabily, he tried to pick her up when she didn't want to be picked up. So she was being physically forced by someone bigger and stronger than she do to something she didn't want to do. Is it really all that surprising that she used the means she had at her disposal, such as hitting, to try to get out of an unwanted situation? How might you feel if a giant whose language you didn't speak picked you up while you were watching TV and started carrying you off somewhere?

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        • #5
          How kind to have a friend like you!

          We do not hit or spank in our house and my youngest daughter (14 mths old) hits. It can be a sign of frustration, hunger, anger, tiredness, overwhelm, helplesness, inability to control the situation, etc. Sometimes a child hits for reaction, gets it and then its reinforced.

          After a week or so of trying to track and trace the triggers for my daughter hitting I saw a pattern and was able to cut down on this occuring. I was able to give my daughter more power she craved to make her own choices (obviously within reason and safety)

          It sounds like a lot of the situations you describe where her daughter hits come from this child's need for curiousity, independence or freedom being stifled? Perhaps giving this child more of an opportunity for autonomy during the day, more time to explore making choices for herself, turning the environment she is in to a yes environment? Also when this child throws a tantrum giving her room to throw it, sit next to her with empathy, giving her the space her body may needs, don't go over to pick her up because often times she is not done and may strike out out of reflex. I tell my girl if she throws herself on the floor in a tantrum, "I am sitting right here next to you, I hear you are feeling angry, you feel so frustrated you wanted XYandZ and couldn't have it, when you are ready to I am here for you." Sometimes I repeat that a few times, as much for her as it is for me! I used to hold my other child when they were upset, however I found with my youngest trying to hold and or comfort her made her react stronger and hit, so I gave her the space. It hugel improved after a week or so!

          Best of luck and happy parenting

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          • #6
            we don't hit and my son has never seen anyone else hit, but he began hitting at 6 mos! he's 26 mos now and just tonight hit me when i asked if he needed his diaper changed. he screamed at me and hit me! i told him you may not hit me and left it at that. i didn't draw it out or yell. he also has intense emotional meltdowns when not given his way. i let him have them, but empathize like "i know you really want to play w/the knives. they are dangerous. you could get hurt. it's okay to be angry about it."

            if the anger seems way out of proportion, i would do what others have mentioned and really try to find the cause-and-effect here. ALL behaviors are about getting NEEDS met. try to find the need this child is trying to meet.

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            • #7
              thanks for all the feedback. I will pass it on to her and encourage her and my other friend (who is dealing with biting issues) to come on over on their own

              We also discussed the fact that her and her husband are going through some issues and that perhaps that may be exacerbating things. In the meantime hopefully the suggestions will help

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