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Old 02-16-2009, 12:04 PM   #9
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Re: how do/did you discipline 18 mo. for hitting?

A couple things:

1. Hitting is partially about experimentation with cause/effect. "If I hit X, what will X do?" So they do the same behavior dozens of times to see if X does the same thing every time. If so, then LO learns that "If I hit X, X does Y."

2. One of the things they learn, especially if you verbally and physically communicate it, is that X feels sad/hurt/upset. This isn't obvious to a small LO. Until they're a bit more mature, they don't fully understand that other people and things have feelings or any other kind of "inner life". So experimenting with hitting is a way of learning about the emotional universe around them. A positive spin on it would be to think about how your LO is becoming less narcissistic, LOL.

3. You can help them learn quicker by making the 'effect' explicit and repeating, repeating, repeating, with as much consistency as possible.

4. Abstract words like "bad" aren't generally as effective as "sad" or "cry" because little ones aren't terrific with abstractions yet.

5. Redirect, redirect, redirect immediately per the PP.

6. I've also found it helpful to *always* pair a sanction (when necessary -- I try not to phrase things using 'no' at all) with a preferred alterntive. So you might say somethign like "We don't hit. Hitting hurts mommy and makes her sad. Can you ask mommy to share with you?" or whatever. I find this works really well with frustration behaviors like hitting, kicking, crying, etc. -- "Do you need help? Can you ask for help instead of kicking?" The sooner the word "help" shows up in their vocabulary, the quicker you get through the tantrum phase in my experience...
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