Friday, October 23, 2009


Lucas has began some bad habits: hitting, and pushing. We have tried telling him no, time outs, if he hits with something taking it away, and sad to say, slapping his hands. So far I think time outs have worked the best, but it doesn't seem like he connects being punished with doing something bad. I know he is only 18 months old, but I would like to have an effective way of stopping bad habits when they start. Luckily we haven't had any complaints from nursery leaders, or my sisters who watch him in the mornings for me. However, I want to be a proactive parent and do something now about his hitting and pushing before it becomes a problem.


How have you dealt with a child that hits?
Have you found that one punishment works better than others?
What ways do you positively reinforce good behavior?
How have you encouraged your child to make good decisions at a young age?


Diane said...

My 17 month old is starting to hit too. It seems like he did it at a year, but then seemed to stop for a while. I don't know how we got him to stop, but now he's starting up again. I think it's because he sees me burping his 5 wk old brother and thinks that he can go around "burping" everyone. Though sometimes I think it is outright hitting. We try time out, and I think that kind of works. The biggest thing I've seen that works to get him to stop doing something is to really quickly point out what he's doing wrong and then distract him into doing something else. When we make a big deal out of something, it becomes a game for him and then it's just a big mess. We've also started having him say sorry as much as he can at this age and for sure give either a hug or a kiss to whomever he's hit. Then we Really praise him for giving hugs and kisses! I do want him to learn that it's wrong and to not do it in the first place, so I'm really excited to read what other people say! Thanks for this great topic!

I guess for positive reinforcement of good behavior: we always try and really praise him and thank him - sometimes going overboard - for all the nice things he does. i.e. giving us or his brother hugs or kisses, doing anything that we want him to do - especially when we don't have to ask. I really try and pay attention to the good things he does. I guess it's when nothing is really going on and we're just hanging out or not really doing anything that it's hard to reinforce good behavior/ keep him from starting up his bad behavior/ i.e. when he gets board is when we have a hard time. Anyway, I'm sure that's nothing new. But there it is. ;) And I'm sure it's different for every child.

p.s. here is a great article I found on time outs. Following this actually seems to be working pretty well for us. :) (I only found this two days ago, so we'll see how it works in the long run.)

Jared and Delia said...

This is a really tough one because I think different children may need different consequences to help them learn. My youngest is 13 months and he LOVES to hit his brother. I have NO idea why. He smiles the whole time and it usually unprovoked. His older brother only starting hitting back and I don't think "taught" him to hit. We don't use spanking or anything like that for discipline either. It is really perplexing.

Nonetheless...At his age we try to grab his hand before he strikes again and then use it the proper way - gently patting or stroking his brothers shoulder rather than striking it while saying "soft." Sometimes that works. If not, I just pick him up and move him somewhere else. If he comes back I just make a more concerted effort to distract him by playing with him or reading him a book and he moves on from being interested in hitting.

If they are hitting because of being frustrated or something like that, they may just not have the words yet or the words at the ready to express how they feel. My four and half year old still has moments when he is so frustrated and at a loss for words because he is SO upset that he lashes out and hits. He just can't say what he is feeling the "right" way. When that happens I put him in time out and let him cool down. I then quietly talk in his ear or close to him. I ask him what happened and we discuss his feelings so he feels "heard" and then I teach him about other things he should do when he gets upset like that. I have seen it work really well with him...not perfectly but well. Now with an 18 month old I know that is not possible, but I think you can modify that process. They need immediate consequences or the lesson is lost. I am NO parenting expert, but I would say something like, "Ouch! No hitting! Let's be nice." If he hit another child who is trying to take away his toy, I would have him give up his toy or another fun toy (teaching sharing or diverting since he may not be able to say "no thank you, I was playing with that") you are showing him the appropriate behavior and thus giving him the tools to handle the situation better next time. Then divert his attention elsewhere and move on as if nothing happened.

Of course, with me anyway, if it is your own child I find it is sometimes hard to think clearly in the moment. If I don't prepare myself and stay on top of my own strivings for patience and compassion (by reading scriptures, praying, actively trying to nurture my kids and think of their needs) then I will get really reactive and freak out that he is acting like a "horrible nuisance." I am learning that one major key in parenting is to be on key yourself.

Liz said...

I'm enjoying reading these comments, and wish I could weigh in on the topic. Unfortunately, my only experience comes in the form of training a schnauzer who barks at me until I blow a whistle at her. So, that's not a very good application to parenting. :)