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Disturbing Behavior in 20 Month Old ~ HittingSmaller Babies

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  • Disturbing Behavior in 20 Month Old ~ HittingSmaller Babies

    Hello, new here and so glad to have found you all.

    I was hoping to get some advice about what to do with my daughter.....

    A few months ago she developed this behavior of scratching and hitting babies and smaller children . She occasionally does this to small dogs as well. She never does this to older children ( whom she adores) adults or big dogs. I am not sure where this behavior comes from. We natural birth, co sleep, extended BF, validate, listen, reflect...

    Thinking back I believe it began when we went to my MIL house and she hit one of the dogs, my MIL freaked out and blew it up, then from that point on I was really nervous with her around babies and lo and behold she started scratching them. I have to shadow her constantly as she will, just out of nowhere, totally unprovoked try to scratch them. When I stop her she screeches, acts very frustrated and sometimes tries to bite her hand. If I put her down she sometimes just goes right at them again. It i s so strange. She will be nice and gentle, saying hi and talking one second then she gets this look on her face, a look of anger or frustration and WHAM..she has left some good size scratches on kids faces. This is not done in a spirit of playfulness. It may have been at one time but I fear maybe because of our blowing it up and talking about it so much it has developed into some strange compulsion. It is not over a toy or anthing either, it is just in saying hello.

    We have tried responding in a variety of ways. For a long time we just said " we do gentle touches.." as we stopped her from hitting and modeled touching gently. That did not seem to work.In fact it seemd to become a cue for her TO hit. Of course we try to reflect her feeling while it is happening.." you are frustrated ( sad) etc.." We tried giving attention to the other kid but often the other parent just wants us to stop that.The thing that seems to be working the most is what we are doing now, we ignore it and redirect. This makes sense as I wonder if us blowing it up to begin with made an innocent exploration into some strange compulsion.

    I also should add that she has had very little socialization for the first year of her life and has only ever been around a handful of babies ever.I have also wondered if this maybe has impacted the issue. We lived in a school bus and traveled around most of her early days and months.

    What is very interesting is when I talk about it with her later. I ask her about the day and if she had fun visiting with baby X. One time she looked at me and said ,

    " Sad. Baby sad".

    I ask why the baby was sad and she holds up her hand and in a confused, sad and questioning way says

    " hand", and looks at her hand as though it has a mind of it's own.

    She has done this before after she hurt someone also. Sometimes when I mention kids she is having difficulty with she will also add " Don't hit".

    Whatever is causing this it rroubles her a good deal as when I do talk about it she gets a very stressed out look on her face that breaks my heart to see. She is to young to look that troubled.

    Any ideas, thoughts, tips or advice appreciated...
    Last edited by enchantedgypsy; 02-25-2009, 03:11 PM.

  • #2
    Wow, that sounds like a really tough situation. She is really lucky to have parents who are so empathetic and caring.

    My first thought is to consider advice from Playful Parenting. I read it a while ago, but I remember it discussing similar situations and ways to work through them. Maybe playing through some of these feelings may be helpful?

    Wishing you and your family peace,


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply. I did not read Playful Parenting. Could you please elaborate on the doll thing ?


      • #4
        My 16 month old does it....just started doing that too! He smiles when he does it like he's playing. I see him and his brother and older freinds "playing rough" to him. He likes it and plays back with the grabs and pushes and super strong hugs. The older kids know how to be gentle with babies (most of the time!) so use their judgement to keep the babies safe. My baby does not have that judgement to know that an 11 month old does not enjoy or want a wack in the face or tackle to the ground hug. I intervene or try to redirect him before it happens. I did ask myself "where did he learn this?" and the answer was right in from of my face! The other kids! I really believe he has not a harmful motive or is even clued into what he is doing really. He thinks he is playing!


        Biting, Pushing, Pulling Hair—Helping Children with Aggression
        When my toddler hits another child, takes a toy, or throws things, what should I do?
        Interesting forum thread with similarities 17 month old hitting and major tantrum issues
        Looking Past the Behavior
        by Jan Hunt, M.Sc.

        I hope that helps! I am looking forward to my son working it out of his system!


        • #5
          I read your post more closely this time...I think you are being to hard on yourself. Forgive yourself! Don't lose patience with the remind and show method. Her faith in gentle touches will return. I want to go on the bus! Linking to your blog now!