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Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1761
Experience:  Parenting Workshops, Teacher, PHD Clinical Psychology, 30 yrs. Exp. 4 Children
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My 16 month old son is starting to hit, bite, and head butt

Resolved Question:

My 16 month old son is starting to hit, bite, and head butt when I don’t give him what he wants. In fact now immediately when I say, "no", he hits me. It has been going on for a week. He hits kids at daycare too. I do not spank or hit him in any way. My question is what is the best course of action:
1. Never give in and give him what he wants when he acts like this. But otherwise ignore the hitting.
2. Start time outs. Is he old enough? How do I do this with a child so young
--just placing him a distance away from me and allow him to return on his own
--forcing him to sit in chair doesn’t seem to be reasonable yet
--time out play pen
I have always been very sure to never let him win the battles of wills between us. I even look at it as a positive chance to teach him a lesson. He has a 8 year old sister and I learned from her the importance of providing structure and discipline. I didn’t have good structure and discipline until she was much too old but she definately is better with it.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Keane replied 6 years ago.
Hi, your son is exhibiting behavior that is quite normal for his age. He is at an age where he isn't able to use his words. He isn't cognitively able and so his frustration gets expressed (you say NO) by the behaviors. Reinforce positive behavior only. Say "no" firmly each time he does this and place him on a seat for a short period of time is how you can start. Of course he'll get up but keep putting him back until he sits for say 20-30 seconds. He'll catch on however he'll give you a run while he's learning. You have to keep in mind that he is only 16 mos.You have the right attitude and that's important. As far as a battle of the wills, don't make it a competition. It is a very good time for learning to occur. Boys are different than girls, and each child's temperament is also different. One child may be easy and another more difficult. If you have to hold him securely so he doesn't have the chance to hit you then do that, tell him we don't hit people and keep him close and tight to your body. Once he has the cognitive ability to use words to express what he is feeling he'll be fine. Tough job being a parent!
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