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Old 08-29-2008, 11:14 AM   #1
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MandyLee
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"Discipline" for an 18 month old?

I recently started watching my 18 month old nephew 3-4 days a week. He's usually a sweet, easygoing little guy, but lately when he gets mad or frustrated he hits and/or bites.

Yesterday, I took him and my DD (15 months) to the book store for story time. They were in a side-by-side double stroller. My DD suddenly started screaming three times while we were there, which is unusual, but I thought she was just tired and I was able to distract her with a book. The third time it happened I took her out, and she had bite marks all over her arm. I felt horrible!

He tries to hit and bite when we're at home too. He gets frustrated when my DD has a toy he wants, or when he's hungry, etc. His first inclination is to be aggresive toward DD. I can't turn my head for a second.

He's been watched by his grandmother up until this point, and he hasn't been around many kids. I know he's adjusting to having to share the attention/toys, etc. with my daughter. I want to be sensitive to his needs during this adjustment period, but I also want to make it clear that hitting and biting is unacceptable.

I'm looking for some suggestions about an age appropriate way to "discipline" him. I know I need to talk to his parents and we all need to be consistent, but I'm just not sure how much he understands at this age, and what would be an appropriate way to teach a young child that this behavior is not acceptable.

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Old 08-29-2008, 11:37 AM   #2
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Re: "Discipline" for an 18 month old?

I think with such a young one you have to teach why something is not acceptable. "Biting hurts!" and make a fuss over the hurt one, help him do something to make her feel better: a kiss, a hug, a pat..
He's probably going to bite anyway. At least until he can replace the bad action with a better one. So give him something to bite, teach him a few signs like "stop" "my turn" "I don't like" or a word he can say and reinforce that even if he does bite. Eventually he'll find he gets a response with the words or sign and the biting will be dropped.
The problem is right now he doesn't quite understand that him biting her hurts her. He's very self centered at this age, still into trying to figure out things. He doesn't have the empathy skills needed to draw on, he doesn't remember that being bit doesn't feel good and that she wouldn't feel good if he bit her. They're two seperate and distinct acts to him, not two parts of one. You need to stick with the basics right now while teaching him logic; redirect, keep an eye out, and try to stop it before it happens.
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Old 08-29-2008, 11:52 AM   #3
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Re: "Discipline" for an 18 month old?

Thanks so much for your help. That really helps. I knew that he was too young to understand logic, but I was really struggling with exactly what he would understand. I'll definitely try what you suggested. My worst fear is that my DD is going to pick up those habits. I'm watching my nephew as a favor to my brother, but my child has to come first.
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