Thursday, December 04, 2008

In Your Face--No, Actually, in Mine

My two-year-old is beating me up.

She's gotten into hitting. For control. For effect. Apparently, for fun.

This gets her a time-out. Problem is, that doesn't seem to be helping much. Sometimes I think she wants one. Sometimes she definitely wants one because it means she'd stay in the living room (albeit on the chair in the corner) instead of having to go for a diaper change. Manipulator alert! We're onto this one, so diaper change it is.

Sometimes if she takes a swing at me and misses I'll warn her and she'll stop. But when I'm brushing her teeth, she doesn't miss. She slaps me in the face. Which kind of, you know, fricking hurts. And makes me mad. And then she knows it and hits again, again, again. I can either get hit repeatedly or grab her hands, but that only confirms that I'm mad and makes her mad (or makes it more fun, perhaps, depending on your understanding of total toddler depravity, I suppose).

It's getting to me. And she knows it.

I don't think I want to give her time-out then (although tonight I did) because I don't want to teach that negative behavior gets more attention--and gets her out of brushing her teeth and going to bed. I do want to stop and/or punish the behavior with enough unpleasantness and immediacy to show this is serious. And I'd really like to, you know, not get hit in the face.

How do I get at this? Can I make time-out work here? Do I need some sort of upgrade to Time-Out 2.0?

I am remembering that it's probably about control, so I should probably find some way to give her more control in the tooth brushing process.

Right. More control? She's opening the cabinet, she's licking the mirror . . . she's out of control!

But at least she has semi-clean teeth.


RMMcDowell said...

Around Anna's age, we let Ellie "brush" her teeth after we did. She found that to be a lot of fun. Maybe Anna would, too, and then you could take that away from her if she hits . . .

It sounds like you're opposed to spanking--or swatting, which is more what we do. We were, too, except in times of deliberate disobedience, but timeouts don't work on all kids. And unfortunately, I don't find that you can get kids to conform to your brand of discipline just because you want them to. Kids need different things. Check out "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp. We got some good ideas from him. He does condone spanking, though, and more often than we are excited about using it . . .

The Six of Us said...

So sorry...although you still make it sound so funny. :)

I never had a hitter...knock on wood,I have two little boys who are yet to hit 2 yrs and at this point Oliver finds it hilarious to ambush Noah when he is getting his diaper changed on the floor.

Have you tried putting her in a different room for a T.O.?

Have you ever seen Super nanny? Her time out method seems to work wonders on kids who are truely out of control...which Anna isn't, I'm sure.

It is so normal! Keep your head up. You know your babe best and I am sure the two of you will find something that fits her.

Oh...and just to comment on the first comment (with a warm tone) I used to "believe" in spanking much more than I do now. We still spank for certain things (and at our kids ages of 3 and 5 they understand what is happening and we are able to explain it much more now). They are few and far between. And I think they are more effective.

Good luck. I don't know you other than from your blog (which is sort of a shame considering how close we live) but I can tell you are such a great mommy!

Ren said...

Wendy, we got the book "Parenting with Love and Logic" when the girls were little so that we would have a plan set up to handle situations like this-we have passed it on to quite a few friends and it really seems to work!

You must be firm. This is not an acceptable behavior. It hurts you now, but what happens when she does it to someone else? You'll feel even worse, trust me. You guys are both FANTASTIC parents and her hitting streak has nothing to do with you and everything to do with Anna testing her limits.

This is what worked for us: Immediately stop what we were doing, explain that hitting, for example, is not allowed and then give them the choice to act appropriately or if they do it again, they would be removed from the room to sit on the naughty step (chair, spot, rug, etc.) for 2 min. (Very Supernanny-ish). If they hit again, we let them know that they made a poor choice, put them on the step and tell them why we were putting them there and when their time was up, give them big hugs and ask for an apology (2 year old style!) :)

We still use this method today and have to employ it very little because the girls understand the choice is theirs and know the limits we've set in place.

Hope this helps-every kid is different but they all yearn for structure and balance in their world. As parents, we need to set those boundaries in place right from the beginning. This is the foundation of the rest of their lives.

Jenny said...

Personally, I'm not a fan of Tripp and we try very very hard not to spank/swat, but there are times when I've just become so stinking exasperated that I have. I found a website called Gentle Christian Mothers - it's all about positive discipline, not punitive...still learning, but it's been good for our attachment.

We do an automatic "you hit, you sit" until he can be nice with his hands to whomever he was wrong to - me, daddy, the dog.

And I get you...mine's making me batty this week. Maybe we should just put them together in a room and let them go at it.

Amy said...

We used Love & Logic as well when Roman was little. The hardest thing is to not show a reaction, because that's what she wants. In fact, well, we used a combination of lots of things - swats, flicks, time outs, and finally took away things. What finally worked for Roman was no book at bedtime. Bad behavior at bedtime equaled the loss of a privilege.

This will come around again, by the way - not the hitting, but bedtime struggles. We eventually had to start a chart; if Ro went to bed sweetly (jammies, teeth, laid in bed quietly) for a certain number of days, he got a treat (the nonfood variety).

Good luck!