Parenting: "Don't hit mommy"
January 27, 2011 (WPVI) -- The last few months have brought some great things with the baby - more teeth, more words, and his increasing interest in books. But there has also been a rise in behavior - especially hitting, which reminds me I am on my way to a kid in the Terrible Twos.
My little guy has taken to showing his displeasure with a smack on my leg, arm, and even the face. And no sooner has he struck than he seems to peer into my eyes, as if both wondering and taunting "What are you going to do?!"
And, indeed, what should I do?
According to the website BabyCenter, a great resource for new parents, you should first see aggressive behavior as a good sign. Toddlers are all impulse and action. But they are new to strong emotion and have no way to calibrate their response to it. So a hit here or a bite there is their way of expressing themselves and working out tough feelings.
But obviously you need your toddler to learn how to play and treat others in ways that don't leave a bruise. BabyCenter suggests that your job is to remember the three Cs: calm, clear and consistent.
- Calm: Kids can act out at the worst times and almost always when you are already tired and stressed. But meeting their bad behavior with some of your own won't fix the situation, as much as you might want to give them a smack on the bottom or yell. Instead, keep your cool.
- Clear: Even if your child isn't talking yet, it means something when you acknowledge his turmoil. "I know you want another turn", "I know you're tired," I know you don't want to stop playing" are good ways to start, followed by the point,"...but you cannot hit (or bite)." BabyCenter.com notes it's important to look into your child's eyes when you say this, a sign that you are saying something important and want his attention.
- Consistent: Kids need to know the limits, and for a kid who is biting or hitting that probably will mean some sort of repercussion. Maybe it's a time out or a toy is put away. But whatever you do, BabyCenter.com insists it needs to be consistent. In other words, hitting always is chastised as soon as it happens - not the fourth time Jimmy hits his brother or the cat. And if the child doesn't pull back, then it's always time for a go in the naughty chair or some other appropriate punishment.
At 16 months, my son doesn't really have much language. But just like he opens his mouth when I say "Let's brush our teeth!" or pulls at his diaper when I say 'Let's get in the bath!" I'm hoping he soon puts his hand down when I say "We don't hit, we kiss."
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