tnmommy's picture

16 month old hitting, tantrums, hair pulling, etc.

I'm new to these boards so "Hi to everyone!"  Now, PLEASE HELP!!!

I have a beautiful son who will be 16 mo. 11/12.  Up until the last few months he has been an angel.  He's very good at entertaining himself, goes to sleep well, naps, just great.  Except for his newly developed behavior issues.  Which, by the way, are only directed at me!

I am a stay-at-home mommy so he's with me all day, every day.  Every time I tell him "no" he will hit me or pull my hair or arch his back and start screaming.  Dad isn't home very often but when dad tells him no, he just bawls and stops whatever he's doing!  So needless to say, dad doesn't see the problem!  I've tried imitating the deep, gruff sound my husband has but to no avail.  I've tried time-outs in his play pen with no toys.  He just bounces and has a blast!  Doesn't care that he is supposed to be "in trouble", gets out after a few minutes and proceeds to hit me the very next time I tell him no.  I know repitition is required and this will take time.  But shouldn't I start seeing at least some change in his behavior after 2 months of this?

My mom and my stepmom told me to pull his hair back so he knows hit hurts.  They've also said to smack his hand.  Both of which I have done.  I  probably shouldn't have because I feel like it's only reinforcing the behavior since "mommy does it".  But I am really at my wits end!!!  Please help!!!

2xstepmom's picture

First, STOP hitting and/or hurting your child! His behavior can be frustrating, but you are right that resorting to that behavior just teaches him it is OK to hurt one another.

He is WAY too young for time out. That does not even begin to work until age 2.

Remove him firmly, explaining the desired behavior to him: We use our gentle hands, or our kind voice, Mommy said no-no, spoken to him in a very gentle and firm way while looking into his eyes. He will eventually learn from your example how to behave.

You may not believe this, but you will look back fondly at this stage of his development a few years from now. Good luck!

bipolarmom's picture

It's been a while since my kids were that age so I may be a bit rusty but hear's my two sense worth anyhow. You mentioned that you are with him all day every day. Maybe he needs a break from you. Ha, ha :) Someone said this to me when I was at home all day with my cranky baby. I laughed then too but realized there may be some truth in it. As adults we get tired of the same old routine too. Perhaps he needs some new stimulation. Go for a walk, go to the mall, window shop, library, check out free local mom and tot activities.
What I will say for sure is that he is way too young for time outs. You were right when you said he doesn't care. He doesn't have the capacity to understand a time out at that age.
The most important thing is to be careful not to reinforce his behaviour by responding to it in any way. Any reaction you give him will reinforce the unwanted behaviour. Don't be cross with him or use punitive actions. Even negative attention is reinforcing. Try redirecting him. If he's screaming and pulling your hair, patiently ply his tightly gripped little fingers from around your poor hair and try redirecting him to a favoured activity. If you feel like screaming afterward that's fine. Calmly walk to your bedroom, bury your face in your pillow and go for it. He is testing his boundaries but it is not bad behaviour. Be prepared, whenever we try to change a behaviour it will likely increase for a time but then you will begin to see the unwanted behaviour decline. The key is to keep redirecting his attention to something that is highly favourable and motivating so that he forgets about the unwanted behaviour.

eden's picture

First let me say hang in thier mama, your not the only one. This is my thrid child, beautiful boy, 10mths. I just want to agree with the advise to get out often, and at the same time and day. I notice if one of the children are sick and I miss my outtings with the little guy the behavior increases. Also, if there's one thing i've come to realize, making a big deal about a good or bad behavior increases and encourages it. SO STAY CALM, PROACTIVE (don't let it slide at times and others not) AND FIRM, and yes, screaming into the pillow feels wonderfull on "one of those days." Staying calm will help you in the future when they REALLY start testing you. Your on the right track with the repitition. Your doing great, remember this is just a phase,,so GO MAMA GO!!

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

I realize it's virtually impossible to avoid the word "no" when it comes to a 16 mo old, but do your best to make your son's activities and environment as positive as possible, so you don't always have to say no all the time. I knew a mom who insisted on leaving out all her nic-nacs even though she knew her child was going to get them. I'm talking about glass candles, crystal bowls and good china. She felt it was important that her child learns "no". I feel she was asking for trouble, though, and why put yourself through that? Make things as easy for yourself and your child as possible. As your son gets older, he'll better understand the concept, but right now, he's still a baby. Of course you're going to have to say no from time to time, but try to minimize it by making the experience more positive.
At this age, the best thing that worked for my sons was redirecting them to a new activity. Use your judgement, and choose your battles. Good luck! Things get better.

EasyTherMac's picture

yea some kids go through that stage or have the tendency to do those things...they'll outgrow it just keep teaching them good ethics

SnglDad's picture

Wow, if you can't handle a 16 month old, how are you going to do it at 16 years?