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  1. #1
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Agressive two-year-old

    When DD2 does not get what she want she hits or pushes. For example, yesterday she was playing with the I-pad. DD1, sat down with her to watch and DD2 became annoyed and pushed DD1 so hard she fell off the bed. When she gets mad she hits and when she doesn't want you to do something, she pushes you away.

    This creating lots of conflict between her and seven-year-old DD1.

    I caught myself doing a lot of yelling this weekend. I don't want to add that behavior to the hitting. This morning she his DD1 and I removed her, sat her on the stairs, looked her in the eyes and quietly and calmly said, "we do not hit."

    Any advice on how to handle this? Any personal experience, books, anything would help.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Feb 2007
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    I don't have a lot of experience or advise other than to be really firm and strong. I'm curious, what happened after the IPad incident? What was the repurcussions of ther pushing her sister off the bed?

    I'm wondering if there's a way to give her more choices -would it help if every one were more verbal with her? Can DD1 ask if she can sit here or there to watch her -would that maybe help her to feel more in control of that sort of situation?

    I have a very stubborn -willful youngest and find, I think, that if I give him a choice then he acts a bit better -so when it's time to get dressed, I ask if he wants to pick out his clothes, or should I? I'm also VERY firm with him and started counting to 3 with him when he was quite young. If he needed to do something and refused, I'd count to 3 and if he wasn't doing it by the time I got to 3, I'd basically make him do it -so pick him up and help him pick up the toys or whatever it is. Now I get to 1 and he'll immediately hop to it.

    How old is your DD2? ETA: oops -2, in the title!! lol!

  3. #3
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    Jun 2005
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    We had some issues with my twins around that age with hitting and biting. I noticed that every time it happened because they were frustrated or angry, so that was their reaction. I think it was related to the fact that their language was a bit behind so they weren't as good at verbally expressing those feelings.

    I took a two pronged attack--remove and calm them down, give them a more desirable behavior choice. First, especially if I could catch them before they actually hurt the other one, I modelled the language they should be using. "Say, I'm mad!" "Say, "I don't like that!" Then I'd put the one who'd hit/bit in a time out and say we don't hit, so I could give attention to the one who'd been hurt. Your Older DD might not be very hurt, but I'd still do that step. That way your DD2 sees she's losing out on mommy attention when she hurts people.

    After a minute or two I'd go back to the one in time out and we'd cuddle and talk about what had happened from their own perspective. "She was on the bed and you didn't want her there? You wanted to play on the i-pad and your big sister was too close? She was telling you what to do in your game and you don't like that?" Whatever it is, I would talk it out at length to make her feel really understood. And then I'd model, a few times, what to say to her sister. "No, it's my turn" or "you're too close" or whatever. I'd have her practice with you.

    Then I'd talk a bit about pushing and how it had hurt her sister to fall down (like "remember when you fell down the other day and were crying and hurt? That's how she felt" to illicit those feelings of empathy). Finally, I'd go take DD2 to DD1 and have her check in to make sure she's all right, apologize if you do that, and practice telling DD1 those words she should have used instead of pushing.

    OK that was long. But it worked for us. Both of my twins got out of the hitting/biting phase from this approach and also when they hurt each other now they will take time alone, calm down, and then come back and apologize for what they did ("sorry" isn't enough, they've been taught to say "I'm sorry for...." to show they understand what their mistake was). I only used time outs because I needed to separate the hiting/biting kid from the other for safety. Now that they're older, if something happens like that, I'll just stick them on their bed with their lovey and tell them they need to calm down for a few minutes, and then go talk to the other one. When I come back, if they're still upset or hysterical, I'll just sit/lay with them until they're calm. I think it's an opportunity to help them learn to calm down and also a natural consequence to be alone if they hurt people, because people aren't going to want to be around them if they act like that.
    Last edited by Scooter; 08-19-2013 at 10:03 AM.

  4. #4
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    I am anxious to follow along and see what others have to say. My 17 month old DS is also a "hitter," and I am struggling on how to handle it. Neither of my other two kiddos did this so it's all new to me.

    DS2 hits for no real reason at this point. He hits when he is happy and when he is mad. For example, when we are reading books, he sometimes just hits me in the face and smiles and claps. Or, when he is mad about something he will hit anyone who is near him. He also likes to throw toys when he is mad.

    When he hits, I immediately grab his hand and look him firmly in the eye and say, "We do not hit Charlie." Or "Hitting isn't nice.... it hurts." Sometimes, as I'm correcting him, he'll hit me again! When he does this, I tell him that he needs to spend some time in his room thinking about it. I then walk him to his room and kneel down and explain again that hitting is not nice. He usually begins to cry at this point and I tell him he needs to say sorry and then we hug and then he comes out of his room. He isn't talking yet and I'm not sure that anything I am saying is making any sense to him, but I keep doing the same thing over and over, in hopes that he will finally "get" it.
    S+B Est. 11.09.02
    DS1 06.28.06, DD 07.23.08
    DS2 03.07.12

  5. #5
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    A friend of mine had a hitter and she always said "No hitting because it hurts" and then demonstrated and said an alternative thing to do. If she was hitting because she was happy she would say "No hitting because it hurts, clap your hands and say I'm happy instead" and then she would role model, and then take her DD's hands and help her do it. She said it really worked to give her an alternative of what to do OTHER than hitting.

  6. #6
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    StevieM, i wonder if the words "Hitting isn't nice.... it hurts" are not translating in his head to "I just hurt my mom." Have you ever acted really hurt and sad when he hits you? I tried that once when I was having a bad day and was on the verge of tears anyway. When I got hit I cried and said how sad I was, and "Ow, ow!" I ended up doing it several times to show the results of their actions. 17 mos is so young, the words might not be really getting through yet.

    If he does it when he's happy, I'd try redirecting it. Clapping, leaving a little drum out that you can grab when he starts doing that, whatever works. And when he's mad, you might start teaching him the sign for "angry/mad" instead, which will probably come more naturally than words when he's upset.

  7. #7
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    Scooter: Thanks for the suggestion.

    Funny enough (or actually, NOT funny at all!!), I had read your suggestion and I was sitting on the couch folding laundry next to DS who was playing with a toy. All of the sudden, he hit me over the head, really, really hard with the toy! I immediately started crying because it hurt so darn bad.....didn't even have to pretend and I said "You hurt mommy." DS saw my reaction and started to cry himself. I was in too much pain to deal with him. At least I know he understands that he hurt me, but, I'm not sure he cares

    As far as baby sign language goes, I never used it with my other two. DS1 had severe speech delays and I regret not using it because he was so frustrated for so long (but never hit anyone). I have a strong suspicion that DS2 will also have speech delays and I realize now how important it will be to give him a way to communicate until he is able to talk, especially since his instinct seems to be hitting. I have my work cut out for me with this kid.
    Last edited by steviem; 08-19-2013 at 08:15 PM.
    S+B Est. 11.09.02
    DS1 06.28.06, DD 07.23.08
    DS2 03.07.12

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooter View Post
    We had some issues with my twins around that age with hitting and biting. I noticed that every time it happened because they were frustrated or angry, so that was their reaction. I think it was related to the fact that their language was a bit behind so they weren't as good at verbally expressing those feelings.

    I took a two pronged attack--remove and calm them down, give them a more desirable behavior choice. First, especially if I could catch them before they actually hurt the other one, I modelled the language they should be using. "Say, I'm mad!" "Say, "I don't like that!" Then I'd put the one who'd hit/bit in a time out and say we don't hit, so I could give attention to the one who'd been hurt. Your Older DD might not be very hurt, but I'd still do that step. That way your DD2 sees she's losing out on mommy attention when she hurts people.

    After a minute or two I'd go back to the one in time out and we'd cuddle and talk about what had happened from their own perspective. "She was on the bed and you didn't want her there? You wanted to play on the i-pad and your big sister was too close? She was telling you what to do in your game and you don't like that?" Whatever it is, I would talk it out at length to make her feel really understood. And then I'd model, a few times, what to say to her sister. "No, it's my turn" or "you're too close" or whatever. I'd have her practice with you.

    Then I'd talk a bit about pushing and how it had hurt her sister to fall down (like "remember when you fell down the other day and were crying and hurt? That's how she felt" to illicit those feelings of empathy). Finally, I'd go take DD2 to DD1 and have her check in to make sure she's all right, apologize if you do that, and practice telling DD1 those words she should have used instead of pushing.

    OK that was long. But it worked for us. Both of my twins got out of the hitting/biting phase from this approach and also when they hurt each other now they will take time alone, calm down, and then come back and apologize for what they did ("sorry" isn't enough, they've been taught to say "I'm sorry for...." to show they understand what their mistake was). I only used time outs because I needed to separate the hiting/biting kid from the other for safety. Now that they're older, if something happens like that, I'll just stick them on their bed with their lovey and tell them they need to calm down for a few minutes, and then go talk to the other one. When I come back, if they're still upset or hysterical, I'll just sit/lay with them until they're calm. I think it's an opportunity to help them learn to calm down and also a natural consequence to be alone if they hurt people, because people aren't going to want to be around them if they act like that.
    We pretty much use this exact approach. But what I want to add is when DD, who is three, starts to get bossy and frustrated, it usually is because she's craving some one on one time. DH and I have been trying to separate DD and DS, who is one, more often, so they each have some alone time.
    Chloe 8/2010 Oliver 7/2012
    At the beach life is different. Time doesn't move hour to hour, but mood to moment.
    We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooter View Post
    when they hurt each other now they will take time alone, calm down, and then come back and apologize for what they did ("sorry" isn't enough, they've been taught to say "I'm sorry for...." to show they understand what their mistake was). I only used time outs because I needed to separate the hiting/biting kid from the other for safety. Now that they're older, if something happens like that, I'll just stick them on their bed with their lovey and tell them they need to calm down for a few minutes, and then go talk to the other one. When I come back, if they're still upset or hysterical, I'll just sit/lay with them until they're calm. I think it's an opportunity to help them learn to calm down and also a natural consequence to be alone if they hurt people, because people aren't going to want to be around them if they act like that.
    I love this approach. My DD is the same age as your twins. Since we went ahead and started here in K (even though she is young), she's been exhausted in the evenings leading to big tantrums. Last night I did similar to your approach. However it took me forever to get her calmed down. (about a hour) Basically I didn't let her watch a movie due to her behavior/ being so tired. How long does it take you to calm them down?

  10. #10
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    Now it can take 10-15 mins for DD2 and up to 20 for DS, usually more like 5-10. When we first started though it was more like 30-45 mins for him, sometimes an hour. We take the same approach to tantrums--lie with them until they've calmed down, and then gently talk it over. I had to lay with DS that whole time, multiple times a day, at first. It took a long time. But now he can often recognize when he's really upset and he'll run off to his room, calm down for awhile with his lovey, and then come back in a good mood. I'm glad I invested all that time into laying there with him because I think it really taught him how to calm himself down!

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