So today I find myself asking me who is in fact sat in front of me? Is it my daughter or have a I bred a mini Rocky Balboa? You see my daughter has started hitting me, no one else, just me and only me. She seems to think it is funny and a game but it has been going on for a couple of weeks now several times a day and despite my best efforts I am not winning with her.
I have to confess it is getting me down a little, as I can’t seem to find a solution to the issue and before I fell pregnant I had all the best intentions “my child won’t do that”, “my child will listen” etc etc. Instead I now feel like I am failing and can’t get my daughter to listen to me let alone respect me!
It doesn’t appear to be at any specific time and there doesn’t seem to be a trigger, it’s just random, out of the blue and for no reason.
This morning she woke at 6.40am, I went into her room, greeted her with a cuddle, got her bottle and brought her into our room as usual so we could have a cuddle. By 7.45am we were already experiencing our first outburst with my daughter clambering all over me and trying to hit me in the face.
I’ve tried a number of ways of dealing with this:
- I’ve come down to her level, got hold of her hands (to prevent her from hitting me again as she does try) and explaining to her calmly and firmly that it is wrong to hit and it hurts
- I have said “ouch” and showed visibly that she has hurt me
- I’ve tried ignoring her and moving her away from, me but she just follows me or clambers back to where I am
All of the above have resorted in her laughing at me and trying to do it again.
I have now resorted to Time out. I know people probably think she is too young for this (she’s 20 1/2 months) and I would be inclined to agree slightly but I am running out of ideas and I feel I need to teach her that it’s wrong and won’t be stood for.
Time out so far has been a bit of a game to her, I follow the book by what Supernanny, Jo Frost, suggests in that I give her a warning and explain if she does it again she will go in time out because it is wrong and hurts, I then follow through and sit her down and explain why she is in time out and that she has to stay there till mummy says she can move. If she moves I repeatedly pick her up and put her back without saying anything. (This can often be every 10 secs for up to 22 – 40 times). She laughs and squeals like it’s a game but after a while does stay put, albeit in a very frustrated manner. I only put her in time out for 30 – 40 seconds as I feel she is too young to last a minute. I then go back to her and explain why she has been in time out and that her behaviour hurt mummy and I ask for a cuddle. Initially she was giving me a cuddle and that was that. However this last week she has refused and tried to barge past me or hit me again, which has resulted in me putting her back in time out. This scenario can go on for up to 3 -4 times before I finally get a half hearted cuddle.
The hitting happens several times a day at present and for the last two nights she has hit me after I have read her a bedtime bottle and as I am putting her to bed and giving her a cuddle. There’s no tantrum about going to bed, she merely hits me and laughs. She has even nutted me with her head a couple of times too, the force with this and the hand aren’t hard but enough to make me flinch!
My husband and I have both googled this and whilst it is not really much comfort it does appear that it is quite common around this age. I have found a couple of good articles and forum discussions that have given me food for thought.
“Please try not to take your daughter’s behavior personally — many toddlers go through a stage of hitting or biting the hand that feeds them! Try to remember that you aren’t doing anything wrong — this is typical behavior of your child’s age group. Hands are communication tools, especially for pre-verbal toddlers.”
- Trying to track the trigger. Is there anything causing it? Are they hungry or tired when they do it? Are they in a new social setting and learning from their peers etc? He states if you look at these areas you may be able to address it directly.
- Offering alternative methods of communication – He states “in most cases, children don’t hit out of anger or frustration — often, it’s just a confused way of getting your attention. The key to quelling this type of hitting is to show her how to communicate with her hands using more gentle gestures.”
- Teach alternative fun gestures they can do with their hands to distract
- Give lots of one to one contact time, cuddles etc.
I’ve also found this post on a Netmums forum “My 20 Month Old Keeps Hitting Me” Suggestions from other mums include walking away, negating eye contact, showing how to touch gently, reinforcing positive behaviour, using systems such as reward charts and role playing with dolls to show gentle behaviour.
I will certainly try to give a few of the above a go and just hope that like people seem to be saying across the web “it is just a common phase all kids go through!”
In the meantime if you have experiences of this and have found any “lightbulb fantastic moments of how to deal with it” please do share!