Does the following ring a bell? You are reading a book, playing on the floor or are eating something delicious and then suddenly your child grabs at your face, pulls at your hair, hits or even bites? Of course the first question would be why, how to deal with it, and then – is it something you’ve done wrong because why would otherwise your toddler act like this?
I am just going through this phase with one of the little girls under my care. She pinches and scratches so hard that it sometimes even bleeds. Thanks to this I currently look like I have come back from a very prickly forest, all scratched up.
Actually, all of the above is completely normal and is a part of the growing process. It depends on the child’s age but as soon as it begins, you have to explain that this is not how one should act and that this kind of behaviour will not make them happy. If this happens again, then you have to remain calm and explain it again, and so until your toddler stops with all the hitting, biting, pulling and scratching. If the toddler is old enough to understand your words but does not yet speak, then you can place them at the bottom of the stairs (only if it’s not always used), on a chair or in a corner. If you choose a chair or a corner, then the location has to be somewhere away from the everyday buzz so that the child can have some peace and quiet. And always make sure to use the same location.
For these timeouts, never use their own bedroom or playroom, because the bedroom has to be the child’s fort where they feel good and safe, and not a place associated with negative emotions. And there would be no point to place them in their playroom as their thoughts will wander and they will forget the reason why they’re there. Under no circumstances can the child be placed in a dark bathroom or in any dark closed spaces as children are afraid of the dark and this may cause your child psychological trauma.
How long should the timeout be – this depend on the age. For 1-year-olds it’s 1 minute, 4-year-olds 4 minutes. If the time’s up, go over to your child (make sure you’re on the same eye level) and explain why they have been removed from the game (make it short and clear). After explaining the situation it’s time for hugs and kisses, after which you both can continue the day in a cheerful way (do not be angry or snappy with the child).
Also, do not leave the child in the timeout corner for longer than stated times. And if the child has a teddy bear, a favourite blankie or whatever special toy that they love, then let them bring it to their timeout space. This should never be taken away as punishment!
If the toddler repeats this again, then go through the same procedure stated above and do not forget that you will need patience – do not raise your voice, pull at their hair, slap them or anything physical, and also do not make remarks like ‘Are you happy now? How many times do I have to put you in a corner?!’
It is also no excuse for you to laugh off your toddler’s violent behaviour, thinking that they’re just a child. If you laugh it off, the toddler will consider this as acceptable and they will continue with the same behaviour even when they grow up.
Let’s raise our children with love and care,