What are some good disciplinary ideas for an 18mo?

Bretni - posted on 05/30/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )




So my 18mo daughter hits and kicks for pretty much no reason. I've tried swatting her butt, ignoring her, telling her "thats not ok" and putting her down, teaching nice hands, time-outs and just plain telling her no. The only thing she doesn't like is time-out but it doesn't seem to help, nothing I try does. Sometimes when I walk away from her and ignore her it helps but I cannot do that every time, like when I change her diaper and she's kicking me for instance. Time-outs can only be done so many times in a row. I have a baby on the way and I'm not worried at all about her doing this to the baby but I am worried about my patients running thin. Lately I have been a little more irritable than normal because I'm only about ten days until the baby comes. But that doesn't change the fact that she needs to learn "no means no" etc. Does anyone have any ideas that have worked or just something I can try with her? I love her more than anything and it just destroys me to be mad at her so much when I wouldn't be if she would just listen to me more often. Obviously she is a toddler and is just learning but I at least need to try to get her to understand when she is doing something she isn't suppose to and needs to stop. Even if it doesn't work every time, it would be a big relief. Any advice helps, thank you!!

P.S. When I say swat her butt I mean a light tap to let her know I'm upset (even though she just thinks it's funny, not to mention it kind of shows her that hitting is ok so I'm done doing that) I in no way hurt or abuse my child so please don't preach to me about it, thank you!


Christy - posted on 06/03/2011




I remember these days well! They're most certainly tough. For diaper time, I would drape my leg over toddler's belly to reduce activity.

I believe she's doing all of this because she needs attention, but she doesn't know how to ask for positive attention. So when she starts hitting, grab her hands so she can't hit you and nicely tell her that's not appropriate behavior, then guide her to an activity with you that is okay. Story time, toy time, snuggle time, singing together, tickles, whatever you can handle for a couple minutes. She can sense the changes coming and your lack of energy from the pregnancy and it does wear on her even though we never mean it to. So give her as much positive attention as you possibly can. When you choose time out, remember that you should use no more than a minute per year old. So she shouldn't have to sit there for more than a minute. She'll figure out she'll get out of time out soon and she'll learn to be good through. It might help for you to stay with her through that one minute since she's just learning.

It would also be good to have some things prepared for her when the baby comes. You'll be spending so much time with the newborn, but she will still need lots of positive attention. A baby doll for her with bottle may give her something to do while you're feeding the baby. She can be a mommy, too! We also got a baby doll stroller for my daughter for her baby and that was the coolest toy ever.

Jenni - posted on 05/31/2011




It's kind of a lot to expect an 18 month old to have the self control to stop herself from hitting. She probably will have very limited self control until she's closer to 36 months.

I wouldn't suggest swatting her. It's only cementing the idea that being physical is acceptable. For her age I would suggest removal from the situation (ie time out). With a firm explanation (not raising your voice) that hitting hurts, we don't hit. Now, don't expect this to boast immediate results. It will take time and consistancy. My son starting hitting around that age and it wasn't until he learned his words to express his frustration/anger that the hitting stopped (around 30 months).

In the meantime teach her the appropriate language to express herself. More often than not toddlers hit because they lack the language to express their emotions. So include identifying emotions in your everyday conversations with her. "I see you're really mad right now (her name) you can't have the toy." or "I'm so mad I dropped the milk and it spilt." or "You're happy you got a treat!!" or "(her name)'s sad, she's crying". etc

Point out others feelings, your feelings and her feelings in her daily activities.

When she is around 2 years old you can start explaining to her after her time out what she could have done instead of hitting. "I know you're mad Christopher took your toy. But we don't hit when we're mad... we use our words and say: 'I'm really mad right now!!!"

Don't use time outs as a punishment. They are an opportunity for her to calm herself down and for you to ignore the behaviour. Sort of like when us adults need to walk away from a situation before we say or do something we don't mean. ;) A cool down time. Don't over use them. I usually only use them for being physical or hurting someone else. Occasionally, safety issues. When my children are physical with another person, there is no warning. A simple explanation "We don't hit, hitting hurts" and removal from the situation (1 min per year). Then take her to appologize to the person she hurt. At 18 months you'll have to do the appologizing for her but it will model the behaviour for her until she is able to say sorry herself.

My son went from hitting multiple times a day at 18 months and with these methods he hit less and less until around 2.5 years he learned his words to express his feelings. With that, the hitting all but stopped and he's been hit-free for around 5 months now other than the very odd incident.

Good luck and stay consistant!!! Don't be discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Your daughter is still very young and it will take time for her to learn the ability of self control. These things take time and patience. :)


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Elfrieda - posted on 06/04/2011




I do swat my son's hands when he touches something he shouldn't, but I've found the same thing, it doesn't work when I'm teaching him not to hit.

One punishment that does bother him is physical restraint. Like, if he hits the cat, I grab his hand and make him pat the cat (or a stuffed toy if the cat has escaped) gently, the way I want him to. And then I let him go and wait, and if he pats the cat nicely, I praise him and clap my hands, but if he hits the cat again I sternly say, "No. No hitting." and I take him away and plunk him down where there aren't any toys nearby and I walk a little away. Usually he cries and wants a hug after that, and tries harder to obey.

It works for my 17 month old, but different babies have different personalities, so it might not for yours. Worth a try, though. Good luck.

Jennifer - posted on 05/31/2011




Consistency is key. If you discipline her for something 5 times today, but let it go while you're preparing dinner, she will keep trying it. If she knows it is NEVER ok, she will stop :)
Blessings to you!

Bretni - posted on 05/31/2011




Thank you Kimberly! I really appreciate everyones input! I am going to be more persistant in time out but only when she is being very physically mean. Other than that teaching her her emotions and words, redirecting her attention and taking things away that she's mean with are all things I'm going to try. I know I need to be patient with her and my patients will return once I'm not pregnant anymore lol.

Kimberly - posted on 05/31/2011




I agree with Jennifer. You could also try redirection to stop the hitting before it happens. You know your daughter better than anyone, so you should be able to see the signs of her frustrations before they escalate to the hitting stage. Believe me, a child does not hit/bite/scratch/scream for no reason. Children act out when they're mad/tired/scared/lonely/bored/etc When you're changing her diaper and she starts to kick you, distract her. Grab her feet, say, "No thank you!" and do This Little Piggy...make her forget about the kicking, sing her songs and make diaper changing fun. She's probably bored laying there while you're cleaning her up.

My daughter is 21 months and has never hit, bit, or scratched me, but sometimes she'll throw her toys and I'll just pick the toy up, say, "Oh dear! No thank you!" and move her on to another activity to spark her interest. It's working for me!

Whatever you choose to do, just be consistent!! :)

Bretni - posted on 05/31/2011




Thank you Jennifer, you make a really good point about her not being able to use words to express herself. Alot of the time she hits for no reason, even when she's not mad, but I still think your advice will help so I will try it! Thank you again.

Desiree - posted on 05/31/2011




I love time outs. Started them with my daughter at 18 months old. Which was tough at first but with persistence has worked out beautifully. She hates time out but you better believe her little butt doesn't leave that spot. Kids are smart. I sat her down. Told her she needs a break and to calm down and needs to sit here til mommy gets her. She gets up. Okay now you need to sit here longer and her time starts all over again. Or I just wait til she calms down herself. When she's done I got over, have her sit with me, and talk to her. We don't hit. And when you hit you will go to time out EVERYTIME. say "sorry mommy" and I love you and now she can go play. She's 2 an her little brother is one. I tell her too I need her to be a big helper girl, since bubba is already a baby. Lol. Don't question her big girl-ness!

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