hitting, biting, and pinching...what to do?

[deleted account] ( 15 moms have responded )

my son is 2 and has a very bad habit of pinching, biting, and hitting. he goes to daycare for 2-3 days a week for 11 hours. i know he picked up the biting and pinching from daycare. weve tried timeouts, spankings, going to his room, ignoring, and pinching back(not hard) but nothing seems to curb these bad habits. hes been biting for a year and recently started pinching. any advice on how to stop this behavior? he will also scream in your face if you tell him no.

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Julie - posted on 06/30/2009

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I am a day care provider, as well as a mother of 4 wonderful children. I will tell you that your son is hurting people as a way of communicating his anger/fear or frustration. Helping him to find his voice will make a HUGE difference! At 2, he doesn't yet know how to express his desires in language that we understand. Hurting him back will not solve the problem (the real problem being his inability to satisfy his needs/desires). It may stop him from doing these behaviors, but that is just a band-aid. Please work with your provider in finding a solution that you will both carry out with consistancy!! Help your child to communicate effectively, as well as to put a label on his emotions..."Johnny, I understand that you are angry that Fred has that toy, but it is not OK to bite Fred. Let's play with this block instead". Validating his emotions and distracting are great tools at this age. BTW, I have NEVER had to inflict pain upon ANY child in order to stop an unwanted behavior!! WE are the adults and are here to teach the children how to become happy, successful adults. The only way for us to do that is to value each and every one of them every day!!!

Teresa - posted on 06/30/2009

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I have to agree with Julie, I too am a daycare provider, I have worked with the 2 year olds for almost 2 years now, and have found that the ones that bite, pinch, hit and are aggressive, do not talk and communicate as well. They have a hard time expressing themselves and that is the only way (at the moment) they can figure out how to tell others when they are upset. I had one boy that was very very aggressive and down right mean to everyone, including me. He barely talked and was easily frustrated. I started teaching him basic sign language and assisting him with finding words to tell what he needs or why he is mad. Starting out with just one word to get the point across, then adding more, anyway, after a little bit of hard work, and working with him, he now tells whats wrong instead of hurting someone to show it. I also allowed him to get out his frustration when need be, he liked to kick, so I'd take him to a area of the room away from other kids and get him to lay down and I would tell him he could kick as much as he wanted. As long as he didn't kick anyone. He started going there on his own, and when asked what he was doing, would say "I'm just kicking!"

Kate CP - posted on 06/29/2009

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Quoting Sue:

Bite them back, works everytime.....


*bangs head on desk* 



No, biting back doesn't work every time. Obviously, Lyndsey your son is having a hard time communicating which is why he's biting, pinching, hitting, and screaming. When he gets physical with you is when it's time to call a time out. Not just a "here you go to your corner and think about it" but an actual "time out". Your complete demenour should change. Instead of getting angry, become completely calm and get down on his level look him in the eyes and be firm when you say "you DO NOT bite/hit/pinch/slap people." Then he needs to go to his time out spot, wherever that is and tell him while he's in time out that he needs to think of a better way to tell people he's angry. When he comes out of time out is when you talk about how to tell people you're angry WITHOUT hurting them. 



As for the screaming in the face thing the way I always dealt with that was to shrug my shoulders, stand up and say "I know you don't like it." If you acknowledge their feelings and give them a label they will feel better knowing that you've heard and understood them.

Erica - posted on 06/30/2009

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the most important thing is to be consistant, if you use time outs do it every time , you bite you sit etc......sit no longer in minutes his age, he will get it, you have to be consistant.......would not reccomend biting back etc...that reinforces the action, you dont like something you bit......rather than try too many things stick to one thing and let him know it is not ok and take him out of situation time out ......consistancy is so important get a special chair for his time outs and only use it for that.

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Meredith - posted on 06/18/2014

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Yours looks like the most logical, sound advice on this board. Thank you! We do this over and over at our house. My 5 year old daughter pinches and claws her older sister a lot. It has been a tough habit to break, indeed. Very frustrating. Good luck, Moms!

Daniela - posted on 07/01/2009

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I have a 5 years old boy, and he still hits whenever somebody bothers him. He hits his sister (10), and then she hits him back! and harder! she is quiet, and has a lot of patience with him, but of course, sometimes she is fed up of him. Anyway, me and my husband had tried time out, no games, no tv, spanking. He is ok for a couple of days, and then does it again. Had trouble at the school, after school and now at the summer camp!!! I really don't know what to do. Besides, when we try to talk to him about it, he keeps on talking, crying, complaining, and it's a pain in the neck to make him understand the problem. If he is taken out from the summer camp, I will have to leave my job.

Kylie - posted on 06/30/2009

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I don't know your financial situation but it could be worth looking for other employment. If i was in your position I'd be finding work that fits into my family life because my babies are the priority. If you could cut down your hours so you that you can be the number one carer for your son for the next year i bet that would make a difference. he sounds like he needs you and is hitting and biting to get attention. If you could make a few sacrifices at this early stage of his life like less expensive car, interest only repayment on your house, buying clothes from second hand places etc etc it would be worth it..sorry i know i don't know your situation so those things may not apply they are just examples.
My daughter goes to my mothers for a day and a night once a week . We notice when she comes home shes whiny and doesn't listen and she pushes us for the next few days because she gets whatever she wants when shes there. So i asked my Mum to implement one rule in her house and that was if she says no it means no and if my daughter starts screaming to put her on the bottom step of the staircase for 4 minuets. My Mum implemented this but i don't think she did it correctly because when i picked my daughter up she was crying and saying nanny was mean and she hasn't wanted to sleep over for the past two weeks. It can be very difficult and unfair for grandparents to fill that parental role and probably not the best solution. Just my opinion. Good luck!

Kate CP - posted on 06/30/2009

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Quoting Lyndsey:

i know i have to be consistent with whatever punishment we do but it is hard with the job that i have. not only in addition to being gone all day, we also have a rotating schedule for work, and my mother and mil will take turns watching him, so during the coarse of the week he has 3 different people plus us watching him. my mom is too nice with him and my mil pretty much sits and reads a book while he plays. so heres my next question...how do i get everyone on board when it comes to discipline. my husband ans i have expllained to everyone to put him in timeout but i know they are not doing it.


I would suggest you look into different child care options and make that known to your mom and MIL. I would say something like "If I can't trust you to continue his discipline then I need to find some one who will." Put the ball back in their court and let them know that you're really serious about this. It's hard for grandparents to correct any child simply because they want to be known as the one who will always say yes no matter what. But if grandparents are helping to care for the child and are taking an active part in raising him then they have to bite the bullet and be the disciplinarian when needed.

[deleted account]

i know i have to be consistent with whatever punishment we do but it is hard with the job that i have. not only in addition to being gone all day, we also have a rotating schedule for work, and my mother and mil will take turns watching him, so during the coarse of the week he has 3 different people plus us watching him. my mom is too nice with him and my mil pretty much sits and reads a book while he plays. so heres my next question...how do i get everyone on board when it comes to discipline. my husband ans i have expllained to everyone to put him in timeout but i know they are not doing it.

Jessica - posted on 06/29/2009

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For the biting I smacked my son's mouth and told him now that's naughty a couple times and it worked like a charm. You need to be very consistant with the time out if he screams at you and tell him that he needs to sit in time out til he can learn not to scream at you. Time out works great for my son only b/c we were consistant with it every time he was naughty I know it takes A LOT of work

Alexis - posted on 06/29/2009

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I bit mine back to. They each only did it once!



My youngest (3yrs) has become a bit of a bully with her brother (our second child). We warned her that if she continued, we'd let brother hit her back and let her know that only she would get in trouble. She was hitting him several times a day. It's been a week since we implemented that rule and she hasn't hit him in 4 days!

Kylie - posted on 06/29/2009

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Perhaps hes missing you on those days and craving your attention...you could try to ignore the naughty behavior and give him lots of praise when hes good. Of course you cannot tolerate him hitting and biting you so you need to stay calm and consistent with your choice of consequence (do not bite back or use hot sauce). Make sure you get down on his level and look him in the eyes when you talk to him also most two year olds are biting because they haven't learned to express themselves verbally yet. be aware of what hes eating some children react badly to sugar and preservatives and this affects their behaviors and listening skills. There's a few tips on this site http://www.askdrsears.com/html/6/T063900... Good luck

Kylie - posted on 06/29/2009

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Perhaps hes missing you on those days and craving your attention...you could try to ignore the naughty behavior and give him lots of praise when hes good. Of course you cannot tolerate him hitting and biting you so you need to stay calm and consistent with your choice of consequence (do not bite back or use hot sauce). Make sure you get down on his level and look him in the eyes when you talk to him also most two year olds are biting because they haven't learned to express themselves verbally yet. be aware of what hes eating some children react badly to sugar and preservatives and this affects their behaviors and listening skills. There's a few tips on this site http://www.askdrsears.com/html/6/T063900... Good luck

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