Saturday, 2 March 2013

Bitten, Bruised and Battered (or, How to Handle Getting Your Ass Handed to You by a Toddler)

When I say my toddler kicked my ass, I don't mean she has been rambunctious all day and I'm tired, or I had to physically chase after her so much that now everything between my neck and my feet are begging for a hot soak in the tub. When I say that I had my ass handed to me by a toddler, I'm talking about her physically hurting me. 

Our house is full of love, hugs, kisses and random dance parties. Yes, we've got our stressful days but we don't yell, or throw, or hit. Even though we try to teach by example, it's not enough. Tonight I was pinned to the floor by a 19 month old ninja trying to fight her way onto my chest in order to get a handful of hair in her fist and my shoulder in her mouth. 

When she's not going Hannibal Lecter or Ninja Baby on me, she's pinching, slapping, or hitting with her toys. Or, she's biting through clothing. Tonight she bit a hole through my skirt. 

How do you get it through to her at such a young age that it's not cool to smash your mama in the face with your sippy cup, bite her on the back of the thigh or grab a chunk of skin (and sometimes flesh), dig your nails in deep and twist?!

"No" doesn't seem to work. She giggles when I use a stern tone of voice. "Stop" makes her want to do it more, to the point of chasing me around the house to try and get a grip on one of my limbs so she can sink in her tiny little fangs. I haven't seem to have mastered "the look"... although I'm working on it. Give me time.

I understand that at one and a half, a child's language is developing and due to their lack of vocabulary, they rely on actions to communicate. Incoming molar aside, the hitting and pinching is telling me she doesn't like me; that she wants to cause a reaction in me. Is it as simple as her needing more of my attention than she's getting? 

My big question: How can I help her channel this energy so she's not hurting people? What are the great activities that help curb toddler aggression?

My new approach, as I attempt to cease the bloody marks on my skin, is to reinforce the "gentle" instead of responding with the negative, "no"s, "don't"s and "stop"s.  And maybe take a time out myself before reprimanding her. 

Suggestions, advice, and guilty confessions of your reaction to an aggressive toddler welcome! (and politely begged for --- see the comment section? leave 'em there")

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