Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

I need serious help with discipline...

My 13 month old is a sweet boy, but can be very (for lack of a better word) bad!  He hits me, bites me, yells at me, etc when he doesn't get his way.  It could be for any reason... he wants an apple first and I give him broccoli, or he wants to go outside and we can't right now... He screams in restaurants just for the heck of it.  I've tried everything I've read on here... redirecting, talking to him, ignoring it, etc.  I even resorted to smacking his hand at one point, which of course didn't help.  

Please tell me this is a phase and he won't be like this forever.  Is there anything I can do to help the situation that I am not already doing?  I play with him a lot, we never have the TV on to watch, we read books all the time.  He is a smart kid, but very difficult.... I feel like I am a good mom, but I am getting frustrated! Any advice? Thanks!

 

Re: I need serious help with discipline...

  • It's completely normal behavior for a toddler and yes, it's a phase.  Unfortunately from what I hear it only gets worse until about 4 :)

    I go with ignore.  Anything else only makes it worse.  Be consistent and power through it.  And when you can't take it, put the kid in the crib for ten minutes and give yourself a breather!  Much more effective for both of you than smacking his hand.

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  • I like to give logical consequences. You hit me? Then you can get off my knee and be away from me because I don't want to be hit thanks. 

    Some of it I would ignore, eg the screaming in the restaurant (assuming it's a short outburst, and not prolonged. If it's prolonged then I would remove him/us from the restaurant)

    Then somethings I might look at, whether I'm setting myself up over things that don't really matter. eg him wanting the apple over the broccoli. I generally put all the oofd on LOs plate at once, and she can eat what she wants. There's nothing else to eat, the end.

    But generally, yeah it's the age, and it's tough. Hang int here. 

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  • This age is so hard. It's hard for them to express themselves without the language to do it, so I think a lot of frustration comes out in "bad" behavior. They're also learning cause & effect, are becoming more independent, and starting push limits so all of that can add to it.

    We teach "gentle hands" when he hits. It doesn't always make him stop, but I like giving him a positive direction of something TO do rather than what not to do (don't hit). We do a lot of redirection and the natural consequences like the pp suggested. 

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  • Ms5586Ms5586 member
    I make it short and sweet.  He hits, I hold his hands firmly, go down to his eye level, look at him and say "We don't hit.  We use nice hands".  Then I say 'Tell mommy sorry" and he gives me a hug.  That's what they use at daycare, and it usually will stop the behavior.  If it continues, I will walk away from him. 
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  • It is a very very hard age. My DD is about to be 2 and she is VERY strong willed. Shes also a screamer for no reason so I pretty much try not to take her to places where it will stand out. We go to restaurants but the minute she starts acting up i just get up and take her out for a breather then bring her back. I also agree with the PP. Pretty much all you can do is tell them No and show them what to do then ignore it. Anything else does make it worse. Im PRAYING that when she can really voice her frustrations she will calm down a bit. GL
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  • Leap08Leap08
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    image Kimbus22:

    It's completely normal behavior for a toddler and yes, it's a phase.  Unfortunately from what I hear it only gets worse until about 4 :)

    I go with ignore.  Anything else only makes it worse.  Be consistent and power through it.  And when you can't take it, put the kid in the crib for ten minutes and give yourself a breather!  Much more effective for both of you than smacking his hand.

    Not true. Parenting is full of highs and lows and there are a lot of them in the early years. What you're dealing with now has a lot to do with your little guy lacking the ability to communicate what he wants. Your world will get a whole lot easier and better once he learns some more words.

    I also try to ignore this type of behavior. If my daughter reacts negatively to something, I will set her down in a safe place and then walk away. If she hit me or bit me, I'd say "We don't hit or bite" and then I'd walk away. I try to do this without any emotion. Sometimes she'll cry for awhile, and then she'll stop and it's like nothing happened.   

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  • image Leap08:
    image Kimbus22:

    It's completely normal behavior for a toddler and yes, it's a phase.  Unfortunately from what I hear it only gets worse until about 4 :)

    I go with ignore.  Anything else only makes it worse.  Be consistent and power through it.  And when you can't take it, put the kid in the crib for ten minutes and give yourself a breather!  Much more effective for both of you than smacking his hand.

    Not true. Parenting is full of highs and lows and there are a lot of them in the early years. What you're dealing with now has a lot to do with your little guy lacking the ability to communicate what he wants. Your world will get a whole lot easier and better once he learns some more words.

    I also try to ignore this type of behavior. If my daughter reacts negatively to something, I will set her down in a safe place and then walk away. If she hit me or bit me, I'd say "We don't hit or bite" and then I'd walk away. I try to do this without any emotion. Sometimes she'll cry for awhile, and then she'll stop and it's like nothing happened.   

    I agree with this. The toddler years aren't as fateful as people make them out to be. They're hard because there is always something that needs to be worked on, but they're so exciting because there is always something new they're learning. 

    I really helps me to think about why the action is probably happening. He's probably realizing he can get a reaction out of you and other people by acting up--cause and effect. I agree with most PPs here--I would firmly say no, then ignore (or timeout in crib for a minute or two if it's really bad).

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  • Nicb13Nicb13
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    It's hard at this age (my LO is the same age) because they aren't talking yet so trying to reason with them or tell them things just doesn't work because they don't understand. I think it's good to be at eye level with them instead of hovering above them and just ignore it. I have to teach DS that getting excited and hitting the animals is not ok so I'd imagine this might be along the same lines. Repetition and consistency. Every time he does it, react the same way.

    DS throws tantrums but he doesn't hit me or bite me out of anger so maybe I'm no help, I just know that repetition helps a ton when teaching them anything

     

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  • I think it's totally normal.  DS is only 16 months but I swear he's starting the
    terrible twos!   At home, I address the infraction (that's not nice, we don't hit/throw toys/etc., we do this instead) and give consequences (walk away from him, take away the toy he's misusing, etc.)

    In public, I try my hardest to set him up to succeed.  That means, I bring snacks for him to eat while we're wiating on the food, have a few toys in the diaper bag to rotate through, have toddler apps ready on my iphone, etc.  We still find ourselves rushing through meals to avoid a meltdown.

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  • AZ123AZ123
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    That age is tough because communicating with them is tough. They still are naughty when they get older but then you can communicate with them better.

    When my boys were that age and they hit or bit me I would physically turn my back on them. If we were playing on the floor I would turn all the way around until i'm facing the other wall and say I'm not playing with you because you hit me. No hitting.  It only took doing that once or twice to make the problem go away. They do the hitting/biting because they're frustrated and want your attention.

    Also, pick your battles. just give him an apple instead of broccoli first. Both have fiber! but really, it just isn't worth it at this age because they don't understand sequence of events. They don't get that until nearly age 3. They don't understan that if you do this, then this and that happens. So, it isn't worth the fight and it doesn't mean you can't change the rules later. Like when he's 3 and you can reason with him and say "no apples until you finish your brocolli"

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  • This behavior is normal but discipline at this age doesn't work very well either - I'm talking time outs and stuff like that.

    Consistent redirection, or telling him what you want him to do instead of waht he is doing is helpful in his development at this stage, but he doesn't even have all the language capabilities to understand that if you don't do it VERY simply.



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  • My 17 month is becoming more challenging by the day it seems.  Like others have said, I am trying a range of things.  I try to pick my battles.  Like you said with the apple and the broccoli, maybe that isn't worth the fight. 

    If my son hits me, I tell him it isn't nice to hit, that it hurts mommy, and that if he does it again, I won't play with him anymore.  He almost always tries again, so I put him down and ignore him. 

    If he is throwing his toys, I tell him that if he does it again, I will take it away, and I follow through with that.  

    If he is doing something that I want to discourage (like, playing with lamps, going into the kitchen, harassing the pets), I try to remove and redirect and also explain to him.  

    If it is something like he is mad we can't go outside and play for some reason, I try to redirect his attention, but otherwise I just ignore it. 

    I think it really depends on the situation.  Sometimes he seems to get it, other times he doesn't.  I think that at this point, it is almost more like I am training myself in terms of discipline, follow through, etc. 

     

  • image sunnyday016:

    This age is so hard. It's hard for them to express themselves without the language to do it, so I think a lot of frustration comes out in "bad" behavior. They're also learning cause & effect, are becoming more independent, and starting push limits so all of that can add to it.

    Agreed.

    And honestly, my daycare really puts it in perspective for me.  I don't know about all states, but California has a Desired Results Developmental Profile which my daycare uses to measure development.  And so much of the behaviors that we characterize as "negative" are listed as "desired results" in terms of progression of development.  I joke they make our jerky kid sound like it's a good thing!  As an example -

    • Pushing away something, crying and rolling on the floor when frustrated are part of the "self expression" development and a sign of responding to the environment or making needs/feelings/desires known.
    • Repeating negative behavior is part of the development of relationships with familiar adults and is a sign of initiating interactions regularly based on past experiences.

     


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  • image SandAndsSea:

    In public, I try my hardest to set him up to succeed.  That means, I bring snacks for him to eat while we're wiating on the food, have a few toys in the diaper bag to rotate through, have toddler apps ready on my iphone, etc.  We still find ourselves rushing through meals to avoid a meltdown.

    This.  Exactly.  

    All the pp's have given the best advice - redirect, ignore, etc...But the above is what I was thinking as I was reading through the comments.  You can help your LO with their behavior by setting expectations that they can meet.  Don't go to a restaurant where the food takes 30  minutes to get to the table + appetizers + dessert.  You will be in for a showdown if not a meltdown.  

    As far as the hitting is concerned we started to deal with it around your LO's age and are continuing to deal with it.  I have no helpful advice there except to be consistent.  I have also given permission to any other adults we are around frequently to do the same as I do if he does it when I'm not watching. I get on his level, hold his hands, say, "no hitting" and then ask him to show me "gentle".  He will usually demonstrate gentle. Usually.  Sometimes he hits me back.  Then it is nap time.  Lol.

    We were able to conquer  biting in about three days (after a few weeks of it becoming progressively worse) with this method:  Eye-level, Very stern "no biting. That hurts me", Then redirect to "you can bite your toy.  You can bite this apple, etc...but you cannot bite mommy" 

    I've also noticed the behavior gets worse if he's over-tired or over-stimulated.  Sometimes I'll just put him in his crib with a book, a toy and a sippy of water and let him have a few quiet minutes (around 30) to himself.  I try to not show frustration when I do it because I don't want him to associate the crib with being in trouble...

    Good Luck!  You are doing a great job - it sounds like he is developing quite normally :)

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  • At 13 months, I don't think you can do much discipline other than say "no hitting/yelling/biting" etc and walk away when they get carried away. There was one time my daughter seemed to intentionally throw something on my foot, after already hitting me multiple times, and she had the most devilish smile afterwards. So we did a "baby time out" which is something we've made up and only used a couple times: 1) say "no throwing. that hurts" 2) put her down in a confined area (like her room with the baby gate up) and 3) walk away. She goes ballistic and my husband goes in after a minute. (We use a minute based on the rule that children can have time outs as long in minutes as they are old in years. It's supposed to start at age 2, but when her behavior is really out of control, we do a 1 minute time out.) It's quick but definitely gets the message across. Hitting mommy = no mommy. She only gets daddy even after the time out is over. 
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  • WOW! You guys made me feel a lot better, and have some great  ideas.  It is great to know this is all normal.   
  • Terrible twos start at the second year of life, not at two years old..... I have been dealing with this too. My LO is 16 months in. Few days and its happened over night within the tantrums, screaming and swatting at us when he doesn't get his way..

     

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  • The best advice my mom was given when raising me is the same approach that I plan to take with my dd.  I was a very strong willed child and a wise person told my mom to "pick her battles."  By that I mean, don't make everything into a battle with your child.  Pick the moments to be the tougher one when it really counts.  Pick the boundaries that you just won't give on (and shouldn't give)...but give some room for your child to exert some control.  As for a lot of this behaviour it is an age thing that will "phase out" eventually.  I think that consistency in our reactions is what helps. 
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