Thursday, December 10, 2009

Waiting in Time Out

My child hits.

There. I said it. I feel like it should be cathartic. Like saying, "My name is Kristen and I'm an alcoholic."

Mostly I just feel like I have a child who hits and have developed a deeper understanding how stay at home moms become alcoholics.

My child hits indiscriminately. He enjoys the sound it makes, I think. He starts by hitting his plastic screwdriver off of the plastic toolbox it came with, and that is okay, I think. So I let him do it. He has the most fantastic laugh and the noise he discovered hitting the screwdriver and the box makes him laugh, not quietly, but a big belly laugh. Perhaps I should stop him, but I enjoy the laugh and it makes me laugh too.

He is twenty months and full of life and rolls of chub. He was born five weeks early and barely five pounds, so watching him now, full of chub, life, and laughter brings me great joy, even if he is now hitting a plastic hammer off of a tambourine. I reason that this is a musical instrument, so I allow the concert to continue, thinking that he could be a Blue Man in training.

He then moves with the plastic hammer to the coffee table, which is where I draw the line. Not because our coffee table is particularly nice. It is what designers call distressed, and I think to get it that way, I probably banged it with an actual hammer, but it is the principal of the thing. My child is clearly disappointed, as the noise from the table was much better than either the tambourine or the box provided.

He is not deterred. He finds a ladle in a kitchen cabinet it attempts to see how it would sound beating against the head of our nine year old beagle. Luckily for the beagle, I stop the experiment before he can find out.

His favorite target, however, is his sister. If there is something in his hand, or in his reach, be it soft, hard, long or short, he feels compelled to hit her with it. Sometimes out of anger, sometimes out of curiosity. Sometimes, I believe, just because it is in his hand and she is in his reach.

I have said the words, "No hitting," "Use nice hands," and "We don't hit," so much that he may think they are actually rooms in our house at this point. In fact, as he is raising his hand (or whatever object he has in it) to hit whatever it is he is about to hit, he will look at me and say, "No?" and then proceed to swing away.

He spends a good deal of his day in time out and I spend a good deal of my day trying not to console myself with the stale Halloween candy hidden on the top shelf of the pantry. Our pediatrician suggested that he is simply exploring his surroundings and doesn't understand that hitting people causes physical pain. Meanwhile, I'm trying graduate my daughter from kindergarten without brain damage.

Advice in the mommy world varies from; stick to time outs (don't repay hitting with hitting) to hit him back (he'll never understand it hurts unless you show him).

If any of you have been there and done that, all of us here in the Escovedo Casa would be greatly appreciative of any advice you could give us, especially our daughter and our dog!

How have you successfully disciplined a toddler who hits?
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