Disciplining a 21 month old...

Crystal - posted on 07/07/2009 ( 17 moms have responded )

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How do I discipline my 21 month old daughter when she hits someone? Its usually out of frustration when she is trying to tell someone what she wants, but its also when she is mad because she isn't "getting her way". I just don't know what to do!!

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Deb - posted on 07/10/2009

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Just some advice...BE PATIENT and PLEASE DO NOT take the advice of any parent who suggests you ever hit your child! It will confused your child since you are the protector and also may reinforce the behavior to continue. Many parents beleive that they have to beat the child down to show them who is boss or in control. That is not what a Parents job is. It is to guide, teach, love and teach boundaries for ones safety and well-being as they grow up and become responsible adults. I often over hear parents stating "you will respect me". Respect is earned NOT demanded. Respect is earned by how we treat others including our very own children. When your daughter hits just realize it is because of her age and immaturity to hand disappointment, being tired, hungry or angry. What can you do?? First know this is very normal behavior and Second you should immediately remove her from the situation until she calms down. Then speak with her and explain that it is not appropriate to hit ever. Explain that if she hits again she will go to time out (1 min per year of age) What is the purpose of time-out many ask? It is to give the child time to "think" about what they did so they may correct the behavior when you are not around. It teaches the child to make better decisions in the future. I also wanted to add that "discipline means to teach" through words and actions. It does not mean to make loud noises to scare them or to hit them to make them afraid to force them to stop. We as the parents must model good behavior. Many times I see parents who spank their children "thinking" that this will "teach" the child. It is punishment which means to intentially cause or inflict pain. It is nothing more than being agressive, abusive and teaching that if your bigger and strong you can hit. It also causes the child to not trust their own instincts nor creates good self esteem. We don't hit each other as adults and if we do it is called assault. So hang in ther Crystal and know that this is a normal phase and that with you handling the situation with understanding and patience it will soon pass. Take care

Tamara - posted on 07/10/2009

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Quoting Jennifer:

use a firm calm voice and state "We use our words, what do you want right now? Mommy will help you." It sounds like frustration, but sometimes we need to encourage our little ones to use their words because they need that assistance. Give her choices if you need to, are you sad, need help or hungry or whatever you think the problem may be.


ITA.  What we also do with my daughter is make a very exaggerated sad face and turn away from her a little bit to show that hitting hurts and makes people sad/angry.  Its helped to reduce our LO hitting quite a bit as well as emphasizing that we use a 'gentle touch' instead of hitting.

Jennifer - posted on 07/10/2009

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use a firm calm voice and state "We use our words, what do you want right now? Mommy will help you." It sounds like frustration, but sometimes we need to encourage our little ones to use their words because they need that assistance. Give her choices if you need to, are you sad, need help or hungry or whatever you think the problem may be.

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Kayla - posted on 06/21/2013

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Deb you need to go to Can spanking kids cause future behavioral issues? i think your arguments on spanking would be very helpful here because these mom's seem to believe that people who have experienced spanking as a child as using it as a scapegoat for problems they are going through in life and they got that from their "BOO-HOO therapist" maybe u can enlighten them lol

Kayla - posted on 06/21/2013

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It is no wonder that we have so many confused, wounded, hurt and angry children who when not with the parent will strike out at school with classmates become a bully, use physical force against a boyfriend or girlfriend when angry with them or even when married truly believe it is acceptable to strike out and hit the ones they are suppose to love and respect. I find it truly upsetting that parents really believe that it is OK to hit a child to teach them. It teaches nothing but to be afraid to mess up not to help them make a better decision when the parent is not around. It teaches the child to try and make sure the parent doesn't find out what they are doing, become sneaky and decietful. Also EVERY DAY in American 3 children die at the hands of their parents when the parent loses control and beats the child to death. That is a fact. I come in contact on a daily basis with many teens brought up in a home where they are hit by the parent to teach them. These teens literally will have nothing to do with the parents, don't respect them, have even stood up to the parent since they are now bigger and stronger to take up for themselvems. They grow up and never visit the parents or have anything to do with them. AND the parents seemed confused as to why their grown children will not visit or allow their grand chidren visit. Seen this a thousand times!


I loved this comment Deb Adkins, people who think it's ok to spank a child really should read this, I was brought up in a spanking family and what you said about then getting bigger and standing up for themselves couldn't be any truer and having no respect, hiding things from them, everything you just said was so true. I hate when people quote that "spoil the rod and spare the child" phrase from the bible ( i think i said it right lol) I think since most of the bible is metaphorical that what this phrase really means is discipline your child not beat the heck out of them every time they do something bad. I am very resentful of spanking I am teaching my child a different way of life with love, compassion, and understanding not pain, anger, and disappointment . Because if the person who is supposed to love them the most hits them then they will just find it normal to hit people that they love and that when someone does something to anger you that you are allowed to hit them and that that is perfectly normal. Sorry i could go on about this all day long, I just had to say something after i read Deb's wonderful comment, when your daughter lashes out like that get down on your knees in front of her hold her hands in yours an in a very calm yet assertive voice tell her to calm down an explain how what she did was wrong and then ask her to use her words and tell her that you will help her find what she wants, sometimes taking them by the hand and telling them to take mommy and show me what you want works one day my little boy was throwing a fit because his movie he was watching had went off and he wanted to watch it again after doing what i told you to do an then askin him to take me and show me what was wrong he pointed at the tv and i said was that why you were throwing such a fit i turned it back on and told him next time come get mommy when you have a problem and since then i have to say he hits and throws fits a lot less. Just please never stoop to the level of hitting(spanking) your child, I know its aggravating and nerve wrecking because they cant verbally tell you everything they need just try to calm yourself down as well as them because when you get aggravated and angry it just makes the situation worse never yell at them always let them know that you care that somethings wrong and sometimes they might be acting bad for a little attention so just pick her up put her in your lap tell her you love her but that its bad to hit people and if she wants a hug from mommy or just to sit in her lap then thats ok but come to mommy first not hit everyone else lol If none of this works she could be grouchy because she is teething my 21 month old is cutting his very back teeth and he has been extremely grumpy but i have started doing time outs and i have told him I know you do not feel good but there is no reason to be a mean or hit calm down and mommy will try to make it better but you have to sit in your time out chair because of whatever it was he did at the time, I feel like its working and i hope i am doing the right thing since i am a first time mom and i really have no positive disciplinarians to look up to i just go by what i have researched and learned from personal experiences in life. hope i helped sorry this was so long lol

Deb - posted on 07/10/2009

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Jacqueline,
Thank you for your views...some parents say it is spanking when they are beating their children. I understand what you are saying and you are right every parent should be a positive active part of their childrens lives and are not. You are right parenting doesn't come with an instruction manuel! It is up to the parent to learn as much as possible whether it is attending parenting classes, reading books on healthy child development etc..

Jacqueline - posted on 07/10/2009

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I said read the bible not that one quote from the bible but i will said that it different between spanking and beating a child but i will said this i live in the real word and not book i have learn that every kid that get a spanking not a beating is not the one that do all the crime in american lot kids who are at home and never hear from the parnet i love you or how is your day or what going on in your head sometime are the bully. And bully are not alway kid who got discipline but are some kid that got know type of discipline in their life i understand your field but let the truth be told become a parent don't come with any direction it all about doing what right for you child. What may work for you may not for other Just let your child know how much you love them everyday of your life and when they get older which what you get in return

Deb - posted on 07/10/2009

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Quoting KIM:

I have a boy, but, it's not different, kids are kids.....what I did with my son is put him on time-out!...I would recommend buying a little plastic "timeout" chair...this chair would be used for time out only!!!! Your daughter is 21 months so, a 4 minute time-out would be perfect! while she's on time out, let her know that hitting is unacceptable and explain to her why she's being punished. If you are in public, time-out should be at your side and her hand should be in yours!



Great suggetion Kim but for it to work it must be done as it was intended. Timeout  should be used for the child from 2 years and up not for any younger.  One minute per year of age since they have no concept of time.  If she is 2 then no more than 2 mins.  Many parents believe it should be longer, but they are looking at it from their understanding of time.  Two mins for us is nothing...two mins for a toddler is an eternity.

Deb - posted on 07/10/2009

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It is no wonder that we have so many confused, wounded, hurt and angry children who when not with the parent will strike out at school with classmates become a bully, use physical force against a boyfriend or girlfriend when angry with them or even when married truly believe it is acceptable to strike out and hit the ones they are suppose to love and respect. I find it truly upsetting that parents really believe that it is OK to hit a child to teach them. It teaches nothing but to be afraid to mess up not to help them make a better decision when the parent is not around. It teaches the child to try and make sure the parent doesn't find out what they are doing, become sneaky and decietful. Also EVERY DAY in American 3 children die at the hands of their parents when the parent loses control and beats the child to death. That is a fact. I come in contact on a daily basis with many teens brought up in a home where they are hit by the parent to teach them. These teens literally will have nothing to do with the parents, don't respect them, have even stood up to the parent since they are now bigger and stronger to take up for themselvems. They grow up and never visit the parents or have anything to do with them. AND the parents seemed confused as to why their grown children will not visit or allow their grand chidren visit. Seen this a thousand times!

Deb - posted on 07/10/2009

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I read the bible, I'm a Parenting Educator and I am a Parent to a 17 yr old who I didn't use physical force with to teach how to be a decent, caring human being who make good decisions and knows what true respect and love is. It is not love to hit! Many times readers of the bible will use "to spare the rod" as a literally interpretation that is to "strike" the child. It means to guide the child teach responsiblility to teach boundaries and consequences.

Jacqueline - posted on 07/10/2009

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Let me be honest i don't know if you believe in god or not but to learn how to discipline a child right read the bible because what work for one kid may not be the same for all so just read the word and trust in god

Jacqueline - posted on 07/10/2009

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My kids are at age 15 and 11 and i never did time out don't believe in it at all. I know kids do sometime see how far they can get when they do wrong so i say handle situation right then and there.

Anna - posted on 07/07/2009

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Children at that age are just trying to express their emotions when they are frustrated or angry. I agree that you should remove her from the situation, tell her it's not ok to hit. I would re-direct her, engage her in another activity if possible. I think at this age a 4 minute time out is along time to expect a 21 month old child to sit. Normally people who do time outs do 1 minute per year of age I am personally not a fan of time outs, I just don't think they accomplish a whole lot, unless you are explaining why they were put there, what is appropriate behavior, what is expected of them in the future and a 21 month old is not going to grasp all of that, they are just too young. Explain to her that hands are not for hitting and help her find another way to express her feelings.Good Luck.

KIM - posted on 07/07/2009

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I have a boy, but, it's not different, kids are kids.....what I did with my son is put him on time-out!...I would recommend buying a little plastic "timeout" chair...this chair would be used for time out only!!!! Your daughter is 21 months so, a 4 minute time-out would be perfect! while she's on time out, let her know that hitting is unacceptable and explain to her why she's being punished. If you are in public, time-out should be at your side and her hand should be in yours!

[deleted account]

I have a boy, so its probably alot different....but I count to 3 and he knows when I get to 3 he better stop what hes doing or hes going to time out. I even tell him, if you do not listen to mommy you're going to time out. I ask him, do you want to go to time out and he says no and stops. Hes 21 months, and doesn't know how to communicate everything he wants as well, so its very frustrating, but he does understand when I say no, and when I count to 3.

Shanna - posted on 07/07/2009

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what i have been doing with mine is taking a spatula (or fly swatter works good too) and hitting the counter or whatever is close to make a loud noise. that way i am not spanking the child all the time but the noise and the threat of being spanked with the spatula scares her into listening (most of the time :). i also use time out but the spatula noise works better.

Brandy - posted on 07/07/2009

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I have a little girl about the same age and to get her attention when she gets mad/frustrated, the ONLY thing I have found that helps is completly removing her from the situation, immediately. I talk to her and ask her if she knows what she did was wrong and tell her it was not nice. Of course that could be done while I was still standing there, but she wouldn't be listening!

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