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HopingforMolly
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Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« on: October 06, 2009, 05:15:33 PM »

I am at a loss so I'm coming here for advice from the BTDT adoptive Moms.  To the point b/c my time is limited these days...

We have been home for 12 days with our newly adopted 18 month old daughter.  She is hitting, biting, pulling hair and pinching her siblings.  She is doing it to my DH and I as well but not as often as our older children (6 and 3 yo).  I believe this is her coping strategy due to the drastic life changes that have happened over the last 3 weeks.  I know that.  However, I still can not allow this to continue, coping strategy or not.  My three year old has purple bruises from the biting and pinching.  We are a very disciplined family.  We have rules just like everyone else.  How am I supposed to discipline an 18 month old for deliberately hurting others while simultaneously trying to bond with the same child who can barely stand to look at me?  I want to gain her trust but I also want to protect my other children. 

Please help!
HFM 

 
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mom222b
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2009, 05:29:03 PM »

It is a delicate balance trying to bond and discipline at the same time but it has to be done. We have a "time-in" chair in our great room.  When DD does something that requires discipline (after being told not to do something more than once or twice) we place her on the chair in view of all of us. I didn't want to put her in another room which might stir up other feelings. If she is crying I let her get it out - this does not usually last longer than a few minutes. Although she can really cry now as opposed to trying to keep it inside, which I think is a good thing. Once she stops we wipe her tears and tell  her why she was placed there and if it requires an apology the other person is involved. We always end the moment with a hug and the reassurance that we love her very much.

Good luck - it's always a work in progress... Happy
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Mamman
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2009, 05:40:46 PM »

Hi!
Sounds like a very frustrating situation!  I'd try and avoid all situations where this can happen. If it takes carrying her all the time, I would. My back would be a mess, so maybe I'd even use a small stroller inside. Might sound crazy, but to me an 18 months old i too young for any kinds of time outs or such (which I don't use anyway, but for those who think it's a good method, I'd still not recommend it for a newly adopted kid this age). Maybe put her in a children's chair (whatever that's called in english), but only if I could stay right beside.

I understand the risks of her starting the behaviour to make sure she gets ALL attention. That's why I think it is so important to be one step ahead, so it never even happens.

I understand this might sound ilke lousy advise... or even no advice at all. But that's what I'd try. Take away her chances of hurting, which also takes away the need for discipline. Easier said than done. In any case, I'm sure it will get better! And on another note, what a beauty she is!

 
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hopingfor08
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2009, 05:45:52 PM »

Hey, I know this might not be what you want to hear but the things you did for these behaviors with your other two are just not going to be appropriate for M, especially being home so little time.

PLEASE call me if you get a chance. I just don't want to share all I would with you on this open board. I would suggest time-in as well. And holding therapy.

You are in a hard spot, but you can do this! My two youngest are just now getting to a place that I have longed for so long, b/c my youngest (DD adopted at 35 months) was downright mean to her little big brother (age 6 at her adoption). He began to resent it and I don't blame him. Now though, a year home, they are nearly inseparable.

While it is true you can not allow this type of behavior especially directed at other children, she is probably thinking you'll reject her like everyone else has. To her, she has been rejected yet again by her latest caregiver. She can't understand the bigger picture at 18 months old. You  will have to take the lead and you have to put her needs and feelings WAY ABOVE your own.

Believe me, I KNOW how hard it is. S rejected me fiercely. She did all of the above-mentioned to me except biting. And she did it to her brother mentioned above too. Please, please call me and we'll talk if you feel like it.
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hopingfor08
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2009, 05:47:54 PM »

Hi!
Sounds like a very frustrating situation!  I'd try and avoid all situations where this can happen. If it takes carrying her all the time, I would. My back would be a mess, so maybe I'd even use a small stroller inside. Might sound crazy, but to me an 18 months old i too young for any kinds of time outs or such (which I don't use anyway, but for those who think it's a good method, I'd still not recommend it for a newly adopted kid this age). Maybe put her in a children's chair (whatever that's called in english), but only if I could stay right beside.

I understand the risks of her starting the behaviour to make sure she gets ALL attention. That's why I think it is so important to be one step ahead, so it never even happens.

I understand this might sound ilke lousy advise... or even no advice at all. But that's what I'd try. Take away her chances of hurting, which also takes away the need for discipline. Easier said than done. In any case, I'm sure it will get better! And on another note, what a beauty she is!

 
European mom
Agree

Mamman explained the time-in well. Not at all like a traditional time-out at all. You need to sit right there with her or hold her if she'll allow. Even better if she'll let you hold her. For the first 3 months, the ONLY way I could do that with S was to carry her. I HIGHLY recommend you carry M everywhere. GREAT ADVICE.

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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2009, 06:22:07 PM »

 
xoxo,
Momofthree
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grace5
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2009, 07:26:29 PM »

I just read a fascinating book on attachment.  The book is about a little girl with a pretty severe attachment disorder. It is called Building The Bonds of Attachment by Daniel A. Hughes.  I really got a lot out of the book - the women who helps this little girl bond is the displays the most amazing example of unconditional love.  I was so encouraged by her example.

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Grace5
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2009, 12:21:59 AM »

Sorry this is being so hard for you and your family.  I'm reading these threads as my education so I'll have a clue about our little spud when she comes home.

With respect to discipline for an 18 month old.  For our son, it looked something like this:  Pick him up, remove him from the situation (go outside or in another room), hold him - restrain him if needed so that he didn't hit me! and repeat no hitting (or whatever) until he calmed down.  Usually within a couple of minutes. 

DS tended to strike out when he was stressed:  over tired or hungry.  By removing him from the situation, calming, and usually giving a snack, he could return to whatever he was doing 5 or 10 minutes later.  For him, it was like the event never happened.

Since I have not yet been in the situation of having an adopted kid at home, I'm guessing the acting out is happening a lot more than once or twice a day - maybe all day long.   It sounds like you are  going to have to go commando for a few days or weeks until she -
  - starts to cope with all the NEW
  - starts to understand that YOU are the center of her universe

Question for the BTDT crowd,  in the event that I have a similar situation - how long do we work at "it"  before getting outside help?

Grazie!

BTW:  we use time outs still and DS is 8 now.  When he was 2.5, the time out was like the time-in's described.  At about 4 or 5, time-outs evolved into sitting quietly alone.  I'm guessing newly adopted kids would go through a similar timeout progression - With the parent touching, with the parent in eye contact and much later, separate from the parent.
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2009, 04:32:10 AM »

This does sound incredible frustrating and you absolutely cannot let her hurt your other children -- she needs to learn that this kind of behavior hurts the other person and that it is not OK -- I agree with what other people said re: holding her if you are the middle of a situation where you need to be doing things like (feeding the other kids, doing things around the house), then I would put her in a carrier and continue to do those things.  First, I would get down on her level and look her in the eyes and say "no hit, that hurts" in a pretty stern voice and then I would take her and put her in the carrier and say "if you can't play nicely then you can't play."  But if you are in a situation where your other 2 kids are OK and can play for a few minutes on their own or if you are not in the middle of trying to get somewhere then I would try to distract her with another activity-- engage her with something like indoor bubbles, rolling a ball, something where she is engaging with you in a physical way-- let her get her this energy out in an acceptable way -- I would also try to verbalize for her what she might be feeling -- "you are upset" "you are frustrated" but even so, "you cannot hit" or "you cannot bite" and instead tell her "when you are upset, you can throw a ball, come to mama, etc."........ she is only 18 months old and so initially she will not understand but eventually you will be giving her the tools to be angry, to be upset, and to do something with it that is not destructive......we actually have a list of activities posted that can help kids calm down -- now that my kids are bigger the activities are different like push-ups, running up and down stairs....but what I see is that the activities that help them the most are the ones that give them a constructive way to be physical -- maybe it gets their natural endorphins going and then they don't feel so bad anymore and if they don't feel bad they usually behave better-She is little and I can only imagine that this can be absolutely exasperating.....hang tight and get help to give you a break....we have a 13 yr. old mother's helper and she is such a good playmate for my kids -- we will soon bring home our 2.5 yr. old from China and I'm thinking that it will be really helpful to have someone else to engage my bigger kids and eventually to play with our daughter as well -- Best wishes to you at this tough time....I really believe it will get better....please be kind to yourself Smiley
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2fromchina
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2009, 06:20:23 AM »


I'm sorry to hear your going through this.  My daughter came home at 14 months and went through a hitting and pinching phase.  Unfortunately, her main target was her big sister, age 6 at the time.   I was also worried about bonding yet teaching her that physical aggression of any kind is not allowed in our home.  I used the stern words, I used a "calm down time" which is similar to a time out, I used redirection  ect.

But what finally worked was a technique I was taught to use as  a pre-school teacher.  And I wish I had started with this technique because it worked.  Whenever my youngest decided to hurt my oldest, I said in a very matter a fact voice, "S is not for hurting, you pinched her on the arm, that hurts"  Then I gave my complete attention to my oldest and really laid on the sympathy, got out boo boo bunny ect.    I had also had a conversation with my oldest that even though the pinch may not hurt, I will by laying on the sympathy to show her sister that she will not get any attention for hurting others.  Of course she ate it right up Smiley   Usually, my youngest would stand and watch while I was giving my oldest attention, sometimes she would cry (I know, sounds so mean as I write it but I wasn't sure what else to try)  after a few minutes or less if she was crying, I would invite her in for a hug and snuggle all together to be sure she knew she was very much loved but that behavior was not acceptable.  And while hugging I would touch her gently to show her as I am sure she did not know what I was saying when I said the word gentle,  and tell her we need to be gentle with others.

To be honest, I don't remember how many times it took but it did work.  My youngest little darling soon learned pinching and hitting would not get her any attention.  Her attachment went great, no issues and now she is the most affectionate little girl. Instead of pinches, she only give out hugs and kisses.  So many sometimes her much older sister gets tired of them, but I will never get tired of them! 

It will get better! 
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2fromchina
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2009, 07:47:05 AM »

Our daughter was slightly older (27 months) and did the same thing. We had a time in spot in each room. She got moved to that and had to sit there while we went about our business. It was awful for her because this was the way she had learned to settle things. Her preschool uses the same method. Immediately after putting her in the time in chair, she would cry. It broke my heart but I completely ignored it. Once she was calm, she could come out.

Hang in there. It is rough for a while but it will get better.
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2009, 07:59:58 AM »

God bless you!  What a tough spot.  I really, really think there isn't enough talk in the attachment books about the VERY REAL discipline stuff that has to happen at the same time that the incredibly important attachment stuff has to happen.  Doing both at the same time sometimes feels like a contradiction! 
Our little one came home at 22 months- same deal- tons of aggressive, dominant behavior.  It really shook me up, hurt my feelings, scared me, made me mad, made me question her basic wiring, etc.  It freaked me out, despite having read the zillions of adoption/attachment books pre-adoption.  And by far, the worst part was when she did it to our other kids. 
Looking back, I wish I would have been more sure of two things (1) it's okay to say NO to the newly adopted child.  NO.  Sometimes I think we tippy-toe around that like we're walking on attachment eggshells- I sure felt that way.  NO is okay.  (2) My biggest goof was that I was actually mad at her after those incidents, and I believe I allowed some emotional consequences- like she and I were junior high girls in a fight.  How ridiculous of me! 
In summary- my two cents- I think you should feel free and empowered as her mommy to quickly and firmly stop the behavior but then just as quickly drop it  in your heart and not let it rattle you all day. 

This stuff is so hard, but you can do it!!!  Praying for you in Cincinnati! 
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jelloanyone?
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2009, 08:30:41 AM »

I agree w/ the poster who talked about giving lots of positive attention to the one bitten,pinched,etc

we adopted twins that were 15mnths old andprobably a month after being home one of them began biting his brother.. for many reasons and it happens fast.
(toys, mom's attention, etc)

some of the bites were really aggressive and it was happening to begin w/ every day or so.  fast forward to now when they are 20mnths

we did have a bite last week, but it's been the only one in an entire month.

I think they are too young for time/in time/outs... and when one is bitten I really want to comfort that child instead of having to hold down the other in one spot....because they certainly  will not stay put yet at this age (at least mine)

I also made sure to say that we don't bite, that hurts and do the sign for hurts, and use the same sign and words when he himself got hurt.

good luck, I know its hard.

-jello
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chinamom2008
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2009, 09:14:32 AM »

My DD was 17 months at adoption and displayed many of these same behaviors.  I have no other children, but she did bite the other kids at daycare.  Her aggression toward me was quite serious with hitting, pinching, biting and head-butting (she would throw her head into my face when I held her).  Over the first few months home, all of it stopped except the biting, which after one really BIG bite, that quit too.  I made a huge fuss over the bite and "cried" and said No Bite, It Hurts.  She finally gave me a hug and kissed the place where she had bitten me.  She continued to do this over several weeks when she would see the bruise that her bite had caused.  This was a huge turning point for her and I think she finally got it.

Unfortunately we are now back in a hitting phase.  She has been home 8 months.  For whatever reason, she has decided to hit me when she is frustrated.  She is also hitting at daycare.  I do know that they are trying to teach her there to take up for herself and she may have taken that thought too far.  We are going to do lots of attachment and mommy and me time to see if we can't figure out what is going on.

I guess my point is that I think some things are cyclical and may resurface even after you think they are gone.
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ladeeesquire
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2009, 11:03:35 AM »

hitting and biting is so common at this age. They get frustrated or mad and they fight back with the only tools they have. I would give a stern "no hit" or "no bite" not yelling, but stern so the child gets that he/she has done something wrong, place child in time out (which to me means just moving them a few feet away from you to a corner of the room. Then give all attention to the injured child for about a minute (this would be a reasonable period of time for a time out) then I would ask the child to join you or go get them if necessary and have them give nice touches like kissing or patting the arm gently while you guide his/her hands saying "gentle" and "nice" --then I'd show gentle and nice touches to the child while repeating "no hit, gentle, nice"

I really think if you're consistent the problem will improve rather quickly --think days or weeks not months although the problem might continue to pop up occasionally for a long time. I believe it is absolutely imperative that the child adopted or bio not be allowed to physically injure parents, other children and pets. There's lots out there on hitting and biting in the toddler years because it is such a common problem. I think its a mistake to not discipline an adopted child or to let them get away with things because of concerns for bonding.

Appropriate discipline is a loving act. It shows the child that you care about them and their behavior. Good luck!
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ladeeesquire
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2009, 11:06:36 AM »

I was going to add...

You've only been home about 2 weeks now, I'm sure you're still exhausted--I know I was. This is a huge transition for your whole family. Congratulations on your new addition. I promise it will all get easier with time.

 
 
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Susan
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waiting4mina
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Re: Hitting-Biting-Pulling hair-Pinching: disciplining newly adopted 18 mo
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2009, 12:20:03 PM »

       I sent you an email. 
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