As of lately, my sweet and adorable Luke has been hitting, biting, giving me attitude (yes, even at the youngest age of one this can happen), and acting out. As frustrating as it can be in the moment, know that it’s completely normal. Our little ones are just testing boundaries and acting our their frustrations. Now, it’s our responsibility to teach them appropriate ways to handle these frustrations and implement consequences to bad behavior.
Luke’s naughtiness began when he would get upset for whatever reason. Rather that be because he was hungry, tired, thirsty, bored, feeling neglected, or all/none of the above. He initially began biting me. I’d say “no” and keep reinforcing that but it almost became a game to him. As if he ENJOYED inflicting pain on me. Then the hitting began. In the beginning, immediately after he would hit me, I’d grad both of his hands, put them together, and look directly into his eyes and say, “No hitting! That is not okay! Please, try to use your words.” My assertiveness almost added fuel to the fire. He’d hit me again. Clearly he was motivated to curve his behavior with my “punishment”. It only got worse.
At his 15 month check up, his parents asked the doctor what they recommend. Her suggestion was to face him away from you and hug him/her from behind so that he can’t move. When you have him/her in a position that they cannot see you or move their arms, tell them, “No. We are not allowed to <insert bad behavior here>. That is not okay. Please do not <insert bad behavior here> again.”
Guess what? It worked! But why? It’s because children hate two things: being ignored and confined. When you turn them away form you and prevent them from running around, to them, it’s the worst possible punishment. Luke responded so well to this. Not only were we able to quickly diffuse frustrating situations, but, he also began to learn appropriate responses. For example, instead of hitting me because he was hungry, we taught him to use his baby sign for ‘hungry’. I’d give him a snack, he’d be happy, and in exchange I’d be happy we prevented a complete 15 minute melt down.