My baby is beating me up, help!

Seriously, this is starting to get to me. She’ll be two in about a week. Every time I need to change her diaper, she attacks me, grabbing my skin and ripping at it, hitting me, and kicking me.

When this happens, I leave her in a secure, safe, boring place for a couple minutes. It seemed to be working, but suddenly she’s worse than ever, now she’ll cry in time out, but go right back to attacking when I get her out.

I would rather not spank her. I don’t think “Don’t hit people! WHAP” is the best approach. But I’m considering a baby straitjacket.

What did/do you all do in such a situation? And they turn nice again when they’re three, right? RIGHT?

I’m not a parent, but I used to go through this with my neice when she was around that age. My solution was to grasp her wrists strongly [not meanly!] the minute she started hitting, look her directly in the eyes without smiling, and say “NO.” loudly and firmly. I’d hold her for another moment and if she started pulling away, I’d do it again – “NO.” Then I’d let her go and go back to bathing, dressing, etc. If she attacked again, the same – immediately stopped, grasp the wrists, make no-nonsense eye contact, “NO.”

Of course [and I know you’ve done this, but just to throw it out there] make sure she doesn’t have a rash or UTI or something that makes diaper-changing painful for her.

She is learning and exercising the power of the word “No”. She’s heard you say it and understands that it has power. She is also frustrated that you are overriding her objections and is acting out.

It’s completely normal though understandibly upsetting to you.

Instead of just grabbing her to change her diaper, give her a choice about where she wants it changed. Maybe ask if she wants the elmo or the grover diaper. Try giving her a heads up. “Baby AerynSun, we have to change your diaper in a minute.” Then remind her again. Basically prepare her for what’s coming and give her a little warning to prepare her for the event. She may feel like you’re asking her for her input rather than just taking all the control from her.

I forgot – duct tape works well, too! Just a few strips applied here and there, and diaper-changing ceases to be a battle! If all out of duct tape, you can try sticking her down with Elmer’s glue, but that never worked well for me. It did, however, make for a nice macrame when I dipped her in dry macaronis.

I did a combo of posts #1 and #2 and they seemed to work. I did less of the choices at two but I did the heads up.

It is a phase and it will end. If it continues, you might consider a potty. Two seems young-ish to me, but there are kids who are ready…(sorry if this gives you more angst).

good luck!

Stupid! posts 2 and 3, not 1 and 2.
And for the times when she starts taking off her diaper–put them on her backwards–foils them every time.

Resisting diapering is a perfectly normal and common behavior in kids this age. So take heart, she’s a perfectly natural little beast. :slight_smile: Mine’s the same way, only he twists and rolls with an occasional kick thrown in for flair rather than hitting.

I’ve taken to scissoring his torso between my legs while I change him on the floor when he’s really bad. He hollers like crazy, but it takes only about 20–30 seconds and then we’re done and he’s over it. Not a very elegant solution, certainly, but an effective one.

Most of the time the diaper woes at 2 begin when they’re a) physically strong enough to be a real hinderance and b) mentally realizing that gasp they really don’t have to do what you say! and c) there’s way too many other fun things she’d rather be doing instead.

Some tips:

  1. try to “catch” her between activities for a diaper change. Interrupting her while she’s in the middle of a puzzle, painting a fun picture or chasing the cat is sure to be frowned on. She’s having fun, darnit! Catching her in those transitional moments means you’re not “taking away” that fun thing forever and ever.

  2. stand her on a chair with a back, like a dining room chair. Make sure you stand at the edge where your knees would go if you were sitting. (My kitchen chairs have a sort of rounded back, so the bars of the back made a little cage - perfect!) Have her face the back of the chair and hold onto the chairback. You’d be surprised how much attention it will take off you, and how much easier it is to change a wet-only diaper standing up once you get the hang of it. IF you have the type of Little that will take this as a signal that it’s OK to stand on furniture, use a “special cloth” to cover the seat or back of it - a visual cue that when the chair has the “special cloth,” it’s OK to stand on, but not other times. She is perfectly capable of learning what seems to be a very arbitrary rule like that.

  3. Make sure you’re following ALL the methods of the “baby time-out”. I actually find time outs with toddlers work much better if they can see you the whole time, rather than being secluded in another room. YMMV. The spot can be a chair, on a step or in a room that you never ever want them to enjoy being in (a guest room, for example.) NEVER use their own room or a bathroom as the naughty spot - it just messes with their heads when the punishment place becomes a place you also want them to go when they’re good.

[ul](Bad behavior happens)[/ul]
[ul]Get down to her eye level.[/ul]
[ul]Speak in a low, firm tone, “You may not [bad behavior]. When you [bad behavior], it [hurts me/makes me angry/makes the cat’s head hurt/stains the carpet/etc (be specific and immediate about why the behavior is bad)]. If you [bad bahavior] one more time, you will go to the naughty spot.” It’s very important at this age that you say it in this formula every single time. If you vary it at all, the child will get confused and think you’re not being “fair.”[/ul]
[ul](Bad behavior happens again)[/ul]
[ul]Get down to her eye level again. (very, very important step that is the most often skipped.)[/ul]
[ul]Speak in a low, firm tone, “You may not [bad behavior]. When you [bad behavior], it [hurts me/makes me angry/makes the cat’s head hurt/stains the carpet/etc.] Come to the naughty spot, and you stay here until I come get you.” Do not “send” her there, actually walk or carry her there. This even applies to older children. [/ul]
[ul]Sit them in the naughty spot.[/ul]
[ul]Leave her there for one minute for each year of her age. [/ul]
[ul]If she starts to get up or leave the spot, again say in a low and firm tone, “You are in the naughty spot because you [bad behavior]. You will stay in the naughty spot until I come and get you.”[/ul]
[ul]When the time is up, go to her.[/ul]
[ul]Get down to her eye level again.[/ul]
[ul]Say in a low, firm tone, “Can I have an apology?” Wait for it.
Wait some more. Don’t. Move.[/ul]
[ul]Once she apologizes, give her a big hug and kiss and immediately move to a very fun activity with her. If it’s the same thing you were doing before, praise her for her good behavior (“I have so much fun putting together puzzles with you when you don’t throw the pieces! Now we won’t lose them!”)[/ul]

I think one of those tv nannies (Supernanny?) uses this exact technique, and you’ll notice it never varies, save for the placement of the naughty spot and the length of time based on the child’s age. I highly recommend watching it at least once for a demonstration. You’ll be blown away at how effective it is if done right, and at what a joke it is if done poorly.

The thing that’s key is consistency. If she gets away with [bad behavior] some times but not others, it’s actually encouraging her to misbehave more than if she got away with it all the time. Huh? Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but time after time, whether rats in a cage pushing a bar for food pellets or people pulling the arm of the slot machine in Vegas, we see that a variable reward schedule (Sometimes the behavior gets them what they want and sometimes it doesn’t) is much more likely to produce a trained behavioral response than any other type of system. See here for more information as it pertains to training animals. Kids are no different.

Good luck. It will pass. If it’s any consolation, I’ve found that kids are either naughty on “even years” or “odd years.” Some are terrors at 2,4,6 and 8. Others trick their moms; you’ll hear them bragging about their angelic 2 year olds until you’re ready to crack their heads open with a large brick. Don’t bother. When their 2 year old angels turn 3, 5 and 7, they will pay.

It is Supernanny who uses the naughty-spot technique.

Thanks for your responses.

As I type, I have quite a welt on my neck from our going to bed confrontation, so I’m glad I started this thread. I suppose it’s the age, but it is truly like living with Jeckyll & Hyde. Lest you think she’s an utter monster, we were shopping today, and she was in the sling, and she gently took hold of my face and brought it down so she could kiss me, apropos of nothing.

I guess part of the problem is that she is extremely strong for her age, amazingly willful, and yet quite behind in language and has little impulse control, even for a toddler. The doctor says she’s probably normal - it’s just that “normal” is a pretty broad range.

Anyway, I think I will try the “heads up” idea - I have started to notice that she needs warning before transitions, so that’s a great point. I like the chair idea, I never would have thought of that. Or I think I might do OK changing her on the couch, if I have Blues Clues or the Doodlebops on for her to watch.

I will try your script, WhyNot, but I can’t imagine her staying where I put her. She is just not like that. But who knows, I might be surprised, and I won’t know for sure until I try.

I do try to offer choices instead of just directing, but it doesn’t work too well. For instance, tonight the choice was nursing or going straight to bed. She has figured out stalling tactics, so when I ask if she wants to nurse, I get “No,” but when I carry her toward the crib, it’s all, “Noooo! Nana!” And if I sit down and offer the nana, it’s “No,” again, and fooling around doing backbends off the chair arm. So tonight I warned her that if I got up from the chair, there would be no more chances for nana, and when I followed through, she clawed me, so I basically dumped her in the crib and said I didn’t want to be around her when she did that.

So my husband is on baby duty tonight. She respects him a lot more. :mad:

There’s only one answer. She must be an Indigo child! :smiley:


I think it’s the Peacekeeper genes.

I have one of those! He’s 7 months. It’s like diapering a greased weasel. We give him a toy, distract him with silly noises or songs, change him in his crib so he can’t escape (plus have the mobile on), and sometimes change him standing up or on his stomach.

When I worked in day care we would sometimes change them standing up or have them bring a toy to the changing area. We also tried to avoid making them stop something they were really enjoying to be changed, and wait until there was a break in their attention to the activity or whatever it was came to an end before we changed them. That way they didn’t fight it as much and had their time and “work” respected.

Hitting a child is not going to actually help. You aren’t teaching her anything. Moreover, when we hit people, it is called “assault.” If you hit an adult, you’d go to jail. There should not be any difference when it comes to hitting a child.

Whynot had some excellent advice.

Didn’t two *used to be * considered the normal age for potty training? I know my parents were scandalized that it took until I was three, and relieved that my brother got it down at two… I’ve know many kids who were two in the not too distant past that weren’t trained, but I thought waiting a bit was a fairly recent idea.

I think it’s a difference in discipline styles across the years. In total frustration one day while trying to potty train my just-turned-3-year-old, I called my Mom and asked her, “Didn’t they used to have kids potty trained by age 2 in the old days?! How did they do it? YOU HAVE TO TELL ME!!”

She said, “Well, yes, they did. You can too, if you just beat your child until he’s trained.”

“Oh.” I said. Did not use beating-on-child technique; kid was potty trained within the next two months anyway.

:smiley: I do believe while I was in labor I shouted, “But shooting makes me feel better!”

I agree with you that spanking is not effective, and I think it is wrong (though I acknowledge that studies on the subject of psychological harm are at best split). However, if I grabbed an adult and forced them onto the ground, stripped off their pants and changed their underwear, there is no question I’d go to jail. Well, with most adults I would.

There is no way she’s ready to potty train. We’ve got a potty and she comes into the bathroom with me and sits (usually clothed) on hers while I sit on mine, but she is just starting to realize that something uncomfortable happens in her diaper at times. The closest she’s come is when she peed on the floor after her bath, she ran and got a diaper and mopped it up.

I think it’s a bad idea to try to force potty training on kids. Whether they go (especially BMs) is one of the few things pretty much entirely in their own control, and if you force a showdown on it, some kids will retain to the point that they need medical intervention.

You want to be careful with the negotiating and bargaining thing - it will work with some kids, and it will drive you up the bend with others.

It works with my younger son, and always has - from “which t-shirt do you want?” at toddler age, to “what time are you going to do your piano practice?” at five. The older kid - NOTHING worked. If you offered a choice it just gave him the chance to mess with you even more, and even now at nine, “what time will you do your homework?” will result in some ludicrously late time, and even if I do give him the benefit of the doubt, when the time comes, it’s just whining and crying and nothing gets done.

So, younger kid is allowed to negotiate through his day. Older one gets almost no wiggle room. Oddly enough they are both happy with this arrangement.

When the older one was a toddler, diaper changes, toothbrushing, and nail clipping were achieved by us simply overpowering him and getting the job done. All the choosing, preparing, warning, or putting in different places in the world simply did not work. (Though of course we did do our best not to simply whisk him off in the middle of his play or whatever.)

Sometimes the boring stuff just has to be done.

I would NOT permit my kid to hit me or bite me - when that happened he was firmly diapered, then dumped in his cot.

The naughty corner only works if you have a kid who will stay there - the older one? NO CHANCE! I tried it once but gave up after literally an hour of returning him to the spot. The next day I got a hook and eye for the door of our safest room, and from then on, until he was four or so, the naughty corner was that room, and he was clipped in there until I let him out again.

They do get better though! I have to say he’s really not bad these days, and is a thoughtful kind boy most of the time! Even brushes his teeth and does his homework once in a while…

Oh, and don’t think about sticker charts! When the older one was nearly three, he was able to pee in the toilet but wouldn’t. So I set up a sticker chart for about 20 days, and we agreed that if he peed in the toilet every time for 20 days then he could choose a toy. He peed in the toilet for 20 straight days, we went to the shop and he proudly chose his toy. As we walked out, I said, “So you can do your wees in the toilet like a big boy now” and he said “No, I’ve got the train” and proceeded to pee in his pants for another month! ARRRRGH! (In the end I just said to him I was not going to give him a choice between diapers or pants, but just put him in diapers until he told me he was going to wear big boy pants. He told me he wanted big boy pants right as we were leaving for a three hour car trip. More ARRRGH! But he was dry from that day!!)

I’m so glad that final sentence is there. Those first two sentences are everyone’s reaction, but the third indicates that you care enough to give it a try. But give it a serious, take-charge kind of try, not a half-hearted “I know this won’t work but what the hell” kind of try. She’ll pick up on that in a second. IT WILL WORK. Watch the show (thanks for the confirmation, Anne Neville.) Bear in mind that they find the most spoiled, bratiest naughtiest babies in the universe for good TV viewing. And. It. Always. Works.


I promise.

Be strong, work at her eye level and remain deadly calm. What she really, deeply wants here is to know that someone is in control. It can’t be her. If you’re not strong enough to stand up to little old her, how will you fight off the boogeyman or Stranger Danger or rampaging pink elephants?

The problem is *never *with the child, it’s *always *with the parent’s technique. I’ve never found a single child I couldn’t communicate with like this, and I’ve nannied for several families who do firmly believe in their “Indigo Child”. This even works on Indigo Children.

Ah! Thank you for bringing that up. At that point, it had become a game, albeit one that wasn’t fun for either of you. But he figured out that his getting up made Mommy come give him attention again. Again, get down to his eye level (I can’t stress that enough) and speak very low pitched and very calmly. If that really doesn’t do it (I’ve only had this happen once), then sit there with him in time out, but don’t speak to him. Hug him the whole time if you have to, to restrain him safely.

And under 8 should never be in time out longer than one minute for each year. They can’t connect their misdeed to the punishment for longer than that, cognitively speaking. Then it just becomes, “Mommy is mean!”

I do agree with you that “choices” only work with some kids. My son becomes so anxious when asked to choose, and it was only when he got to be about 11 that he was able to articulate, “Mom, I want both. I’ll be fine with either, but choosing hurts! Please, just choose for me!” Of course, I want him to be able to make choices on his own, but all those “arranged choices” of color t-shirt or book before or after bath were just stressing him out.

Conversely, I had one little girl who took any “choice” as license to demand something else. “Do you want the red shirt or blue shirt?” turned into a screaming match over the green shirt. If I just handed her the red shirt with no question, everything was fine. That girl was really struggling with parents who had no control over her or her home. She just wanted someone steady to tell her what to do for a bit.

(AerynSun, you’re not near Evanston, IL by any chance, are you? I’d be happy to come demonstrate one day…)

Son of a bitch, I think it’s actually working. That is, she may actually stay in the naughty spot though she is capable of leaving it.

We just went through four cycles before bed. The first two times I had to remind her, but then she complied. The second two times, she flopped over and cried/sucked her thumb and stayed there.

Of course, she still went after me again, but the withdrawal of the breast and abrupt deposit in the crib probably made an impression.

But yeah, I’m going to try the Supernanny routine for a while, thanks!

:smiley: Yay!!! :: Does the Dance of Joy :: Yay!!! :smiley:

Keep it up!