How do you teach a 16 month old not to hit in the face?

Heidi - posted on 04/10/2011 ( 18 moms have responded )

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My 16 month old is starting to test his boundries, well at least with mommy. He has always been calm in nature and now he likes to slap me in the face, pinch/scratch my face. Before a firm No was all I needed to say and it would make him cry. I hold his hands firmly and say NO hitting and he just laughs and swipes again...

I have tried doing a 1 minute time out and he cries, but its not too long before he does it again. Is he too young to understand time out? It can be frustrating at times and my son makes this sly little smirk that it is almost hard to keep a straight face.

Anyone having the same problem? He doesn't hit anyone else, just me. How do you break them out of it? Thanks for the input.

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Chrissie - posted on 05/02/2011

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This is going to sound horrible..... But my son use to bite and pull my hair...and at about a year old, I realized he clearly understands what no means and has for some time, he just does it anyway.. Because there were no consequences for it besides a stern "NO!"



One day we were sitting on the couch and he pulled my hair.. I was so fed up I pulled his back. Not enough to pull it out of his head but enough for it to hurt. Then when he cried I said "You don't like it do you! DON'T pull my hair!" After that he never pulled my hair again... So when he bit me I did the same thing. He bit my cheek and I grabbed his arm and bit him. Not hard enough to break skin or cause serious pain, but enough for it to hurt.. Biting then stopped too. When he would hit (this was not very often) it was not in the face. But I would firmly grab his hand that he hit me with and smack the top of his hand pretty hard. Not enough to bruise, but enough for it to hurt. Followed by "Did you like that?!" naturally he'd cry and say "no" and I'd say "Good! You don't hit!" I know people say smacking and then saying don't hit is counter productive, but it worked for us.



And he is not to young for time out. He will understand exactly why it happens if you are consistent with it. Assuming he doesn't understand is assuming your child is not as intelligent as he really is.

Allison - posted on 04/11/2011

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I'm having the same problem! I hold him arm down and make him look me in the eye while I say, "Don't hit. It hurts!" Mine used to laugh, smirk, too, but I think he's starting to understand that it hurts. If he DOES laugh or repeat the action, I put him in the crib or high chair (whatever is closer) for a minute and leave the room. When I come back, I ask him if he's going to hit me again, and he shakes his head no. He's never repeated the hit quickly after that. I've also asked him to sign he's sorry for doing that, and he seems to understand that, too, so I think they can understand short timeouts. Maybe I'm dreaming it though. I've noticed that he doesn't always understand that he is hitting as opposed to tapping to get my attention or even just being playful, so I'm trying to show him that without timeouts, too. It's only when I tell him no and he does it AGAIN that I try timeout.

Kate - posted on 04/11/2011

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Hi Mums. We have the same trouble with our 16 month old. He does it in a range of different scenarios- out of the blue (walking up to me, looking me square in the eye and bam), doing it when he's frustrated or angry (to me/Dad/grandma) but also doing it randomly to other children in the playground (yep, how embarrassing, I was THAT mum with THAT child). He's not aggressive by nature- he's very sweet and affectionate and I think he too is testing boundaries and hitting for a reaction- maybe not getting enough attention, wanting attention from other kids or just being a toddler and lashing out a bit out of frustration.

What we're trying (which seems to be working so far) is immediately holding his hands firmly, saying a v stern "STOP. No hitting. I don't like it/it hurts Mummy/it's not nice/we don't hit our friends/it makes our friends sad" (if there are any 3rd party tears). Hasn't solved the problem completely but we're working on it.

It was horrible the first couple of times being so stern with him, he got quite upset...tough love! We've also started to walk away or ignore his tantrums- they're not that bad but we don't want them to escalate. We feel for us, it's important not to buy into the bad behaviour.

Anyway....hope my post is somewhat insightful...now we need to deal with the throwing of objects (again, experimental or other times in anger/frustration....)....good times!

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Billie - posted on 05/06/2011

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I am going through the exact same thing now! I can yell at her in a stern voice and even smack her hand and she just laughs and giggles at me. Then my husband tells her no and she stops right away. I'm just hoping this phase passes soon. Right after she gets done hitting me she always gives me a big hug and kiss, which makes it hard to even yell at her. I am also the only person she does this to.

Heidi - posted on 05/03/2011

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Chrissie: I have actually done what you have done also. My son hasn't hit me in the face anymore and he did the hair pulling once and after I gave his a little tug he stopped immediately, along with "You didn't like that did you?" Then reinforce that what he does hurts and for him not to do it. It does sound kind of mean but it works..haven't had issues with biting, thank goodness. Overall my son is very well behaved and it is when he is extremely tired when he acts up.

Melanie - posted on 05/02/2011

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Hi,
My 16 month old son has started that. When he does I take his hands, put them at his side, and say firmly, No hitting! Then he laughs and I litterally have to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. Then I "don't talk to him" for a couple of minutes. It seems to be slowing down at the moment so I'm not sure if it was a phase, or the technic is working. Good luck to you :)

Heidi - posted on 04/13/2011

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I think you need to be able to pick your battles, but I don't think I can just ignore my son repeatably coming up to me hitting me in the face until he doesn't do it anymore. I don't think he understands the concept of time out yet, but he does seem to be getting better :)

Kaitlyn - posted on 04/12/2011

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we started off telling my son no so he knows that is not how we behave. Now we ignore the hitting and he seems to have become alot better. we mainly told him no for his older brothers benefit but i see that now he understands its not what we do and we just ignore it trying to distract him.

Cassie - posted on 04/11/2011

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I have the same problem with my little girl, she is that same way, exactly. If you get any good answers please let me know~ I am a capricorn just as she is so maybe that has something to do with it? not sure.

Darlene - posted on 04/11/2011

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Heidi, we are actually in Salem MH. I work in N Andover MA. I think I friend of mine also goes up there for her pediatrician.
I'm always glad to hear that there are other parents who understand that 'tough love' isn't mean. Stopping behavior when they are young is much easier than trying to break it when they are older! :)!

Heidi - posted on 04/11/2011

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I think its about a 40-45 minute drive to Peterborough but the drive is certainly worth it. It says a lot when there is a local hospital just minutes from where we live,lol

Heidi - posted on 04/11/2011

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we live about 20 minutes away from Rindge, NH. We live in MA and I travel to Peterborough, NH to recieve prenatal care and pediatric care for my son. The community hospitals in MA I personally feel are not very good. I love Monadnock Hospital :)

Darlene - posted on 04/10/2011

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Tyler sleeps in a pack n play at work (I'm a nanny and he comes with me). Tyler eats well, but he'll go through phases where he doesn't want to sit in his chair and eat. We made the mistake of letting him sit on our lap to eat when he was having ear infections (he now has tubes) and we are paying for it!!! :)!
Where are you located? We are in southern NH.

Heidi - posted on 04/10/2011

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I felt the same way about the crib, but nothing would stop my son from eating lol. I thought about the pack and play but we have limited space and its a pain to set up and take it back down.

Darlene - posted on 04/10/2011

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I thought about doing time out in his crib or highchair, but worried it would interfere with sleeping or eating.

Heidi - posted on 04/10/2011

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Thanks Darlene, ya for his time out I would place him in his highchair, turn him facing the corner and let him sit for a minute. I will have to try that and see how it works out.
:)

Darlene - posted on 04/10/2011

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We are going throught the same thing, though he hits my legs. He seems to be doing when he needs something, though he will also do it when he's upset. He won't sit intime out, he'll stand up and come right back to me. I've been saying "not to hit" and walking away from him (a reverse timeout :)), but he follows me screaming!! I make him stop crying before I'll pick him up again. I think he may be hitting less, but maybe I'm just hopeful! I'm hoping it will stop as he gets more words. I really think they are testing thier boundries and looking for a reaction. I've been trying to give as little a reation as I can.
Good luck!!

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