November 23, 2009

My Baby is so Aggressive.

Dear Intrawebs,

Today was one of those days where the thought of waking up tomorrow and doing it all over again (and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that) just about smooshed me.

I love the quote that my friend Su left in the comments here a while back-- something like 'in motherhood the days are long and the years are short'.


The baby! The sweet baby! He is turning into a monkey booger.

Yes, YOU.

He has taken to slapping me and pulling my hair and scratching at my nose and eyes! Like... he's super aggressive. A tiny baby bully! He has figured out that the hairs right at the temple hurt the worst, and he goes for them every time. He also likes to bite the tender muscles between my shoulders and my neck.


Luckily, he is almost equally as adamant about snuggling and rubbing his head against my face and neck to show me he adores me.

If I didn't have that symbol of affection to cling to lately, I might be tempted to think the baby does not like me.


Ezra was NEVER aggressive like this in any way, shape, or form.

Do any of you have experiences with babies like this? I'm somewhat baffled. How do I teach a baby to be gentle? Or do I just roll with it? We try so hard to speak gently, and demonstrate what 'gentle' looks like, but he just smirks and lunges towards our eyes with his kung fu baby knife nails. I'm sure this will all fade with time and more developed communications skills, but...


... I'm at my wit's end. This is all so foreign to me. I thought some of you might have some pointers or similar stories. If you do, please let me know!

I am tired and all scuffed up and in need of some advice.


The Baby's Punching Bag


Melissa said...

I'm waiting to hear the answers to this. I am in your same boat. My little guy is almost 10 months and it sounds like we may have the same temple hair pulling crazy boy. :)

skylana said...

nola isn't that aggressive but she does like to pinch... so i use a very low serious voice when i pull her hand away and say "no nola" and then i take her hand and rub my face very gentle and say "gentle". that way she gets a negative tone for what i dont want her to do and its replaced with something nice that distracts her and brings good tones from me to her. she's already starting to get it. i wouldn't just let it go completely because before you know it he'll be too old and it will be that much harder to break, and he'll SERIOUSLY be doing it on purpose. and NEVER laugh when he does it. ever.

Emery Jo said...

skylana- good advice. we already do the stern "No" and then the face rub while saying "gentle"... although he usually uses that as an opportunity to claw at us more. haha.

I think you're right about keeping at it and being consistent. And not laughing. Oh it is sooo not funny anymore. urgg.

Mama said...

what I used to try with Tallulah was very similar, but after saying "be gentle" I would give her something else to play with/gnaw her to something she COULD play with, not Mama's face. You are doing a great job sister.

Susan said...

Well, I don't really have any great mothering advice because I'm still on a high from getting a shout out in your blog!! Woo!

But I do agree with the consistency thing. Just stick with your gentle tactics and he'll eventually get it. And then he'll think of other ways to drive you crazy....:)

Dave said...

He is a boy that's what they are going to do. Candace and I have had several conversations about how Ezra is going to get punked by Myer someday.

Also, you used "intrawebs" instead of "interwebs". Did you mean for only Chris to read this post seeing as how the "intrawebs" would refer to only the network within your own house and not the worl at large.

hilary clark said...

prosper is doing the same thing these days. he loves to bite on my collar bone?!?! we do the stern "no" and the nice "gentle". he seems to understand when he wants to... he doesn't seem to be malicious about his hair pulling and biting and scratching, but he is aggressive. and I too feel like a punching bag. hang in there...I'm sure they'll turn the corner soon!!!

Bavonia said...

My little man is a year now, but right around 9-10 months he started acting rough with us, his nickname is hooligan. I read somewhere that boys play more physically. He also was a little biter while he was teething and he LOVES to pull my hair and he tries to poke me in the eyes! We just continued as you do to demonstrate gentle and he usually mellows out, now he beats up his toys. On the flip side he's a total love bug!!

Just Jiff said...

My precious little girl is almost 20 months and does the same things. We have told her "no ma'am, we don't hit/pinch/poke,etc" and then I say something like "Can I have a hug/kiss instead?" Your method sounds just like yours, so hopefully it all works. Good luck. :) I think it's just the age thing where they test the cause and effect of things.

Meghan Elaine said...

My almost 9 month old son is very rough, mostly right before bed. It's hard because he's doing the hair pulling, slapping thing while squealing with a smile on his face. Mid slap, he goes in for a cuddle. I guess I don't have advice, I'm just in the same boat. I love that he's trying to be silly while laughing, but hurting is so not funny now- and will be a lot less 'silly' the older he gets. His twin sister gets fiesty but not physical.

Baby in Broad said...

YES! Westley was exactly like this, and it started right around 10 months.

Using a gentle but firm voice with him helped a little. I would take his hand and move it, saying, "No. Don't pinch. That hurts Mommy." Sometimes he stopped, and sometimes he smirked and went right on doing it.

Fortunately, it stops. I found that as he got more mobile and could do more things on his own (he's almost 2 now), the pinching/poking/hair-pulling/(love) biting/slapping went way down.

Mama Bird said...

ok so two weeks ago, I was rocking Conrad to sleep when he clapped my face and scratched a chunk out of my eye ball. It felt like I had a super thick eye lash stuck to the front of my eye. I called my mother in law who came to my rescue with some pain meds because that scratch hurt like a MOTHER! I didn't go to the doc because they're just going to give me pain meds and tell me to go home. (I know this because i scratched my cornia once before and 600$ later, I was sent home.) I guess the eye heals faster than any part of the body, but waiting for it to heal is the worst part! Next day it was worse, I had to cancel a photo job, I drove to the store in a frenzy looking for an eye patch because sun light made my eye ooze with water! It was awful!

So needless to say, I KNOW what it's like to have an aggressive baby who wants to slap and scratch eyes out for fun! I just make a really mad face and sternly say "NO!" and squeeze his hands tightly. I don't know if that is the trick, we'll see.

Anyway- Myer is so stinkin' cute. Love him!

Christina said...

So funny! And wow I can totally relate. My daughter is 11 months old, you know what she does...she will pull my hair, and I say "ouch" and she will giggle. Little worrisome.
But just like your little one she is a sweet snuggler.
Too funny though thanks for making me feel I'm not the only one with a baby bully!

Anonymous said...

Our daughter was doing this at 8 months. I was so at my wits end we actually got a discipline book for an 8 month old. It told us to hold their hand when they go to hit you or have already socked you and say 'no hitting' and make a sad face, and say 'that hurts mommy, or daddy'. This is when they are very young so they know it's ever okay to hit. The book is called The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears.

Colleen said...

My cousin used sign language with her baby daughter. When her daughter was rough, she would say, "No. Gentle." She would also use sign language. I think the sign for gentle was a soft rub along the forearm. She did it both to her own forearm and to her daughter's forearm.

I can't say I have any personal experience with this, not being a mother, but I love reading your mothering blog, Emery! :)

Emery Jo said...

okay, this is all so helpful and encouraging! first, to know I am not alone in this, and second, to be reminded that I just need to keep showing him how to be gentle and it will all turn out okay! Thank you all so much!!

CarolN said...

When the "be gentle" tactic doesn't work, and also when he starts having temper tantrums, you can simply give the verbal cue and turn him around (i.e., face him outward) so he can't reach you. Or just put him down with the verbal reprimand, so he learns that being rough takes him away from what he wants, which is contact with you. It's what I've done with both of my kids when they aren't responding to simple verbal cues. Better than spanking or yelling, and it keeps everyone out of harm's way. I agree with the others that you want to teach your kids that you are not a punching bag.

Hunnybee said...

My toothless one-year-old daughter likes to bite. Chomp Chomp on our faces, and my nose. Her older brother only bit once or twice and was never very aggressive in that way. She, on the other hand, is just a stinker. I have no suggestions (besides the ones already offerred) but only commiseration.

Babies bite and scratch, but eventually they learn not to, if we continue to teach them the apporpriate uses of their mouths and teeth. And claws. And grabby hands.

Hang in there. He'll lose interest soon enough.

Btw...I chopped my hair off (like eight or nine inches) because of Little Miss Grabby-Hands. I couldn't take having my hair and earrings ripped out on a daily basis.

Mrs. Priss said...

Okay, first of all... he is the cutest little guy everrrrr. Both of your boys, seriously... the cutest ever.

And with all the hitting/scratching... Maddie is the EXACT same way! I try to catch her and tell her to "be gentle with mama" when she starts with the shenanigans, but right when I think she's getting the hang of it and I let my guard down, she full on slaps me across the face.

I'm at a loss, lol.

Outnumbered by 3 Stooges!! said...

Josiah was like that, and Im glad he was my first, because I could give him all my attetnion and try to help him. Its so hard to say what your particular aggresive baby needs, but I can assure you that agreesivness in a man is an amazing quality. They arent easily put down, they go for what hey want, till they get it and are sucessfull. I had a lot of people from church telling me to "Pray that Josaih wouldnt be so stong willed" wich I found was something my spirit didnt feel comfortable with. Why would I ask God to take away this amazing gift and quality my son was given by God himself. I decided to nurture that will and ask God to shape it to what he wanted it to be and I have seen Josaih become an amazing (active) thoughtfull, intelligent, (hyper) unwilling to compromise what he knows is right kinda boy.

Sorry for my ranbling...but this is a subject that is close to my heart.

And I would say more than anything, he is most likely a censory learner. He likes to touch and feel and likes reactions!

J Biddy said...

Hi em. Sam has been doing the same thing when he's nursing or when I put him in the wrap and he is also at the 10 month mark. Although quite frustrating, I'm intrigued by what is happening. I wonder if Sam is just replicating what I do? Of course I don't hit, poke, pinch, etc, but I do wipe his face several times a day, tickle and squeeze his cute cheeks, clean his nose, point to his facial features, pat his sweet head of hair, etc. My guess is that he thinks he's supposed to touch my face and hair just as much but he doesn't understand that I don't necessarily need a 10 month old or really anyone for that matter cleaning my nose or patting my face (hmmmm and we wonder why we break out). Anyway, along with a firm no or if I can catch him before he gets a swing in, I've been using it as an opportunity to redirect his hands to his own face and helping him point to his ears, nose, eyes and mouth. We'll see, it's just a test. Who knows. But thank goodness for God's grace AND his new mercies every morning. Miss you.

Anonymous said...

My daughter Audrey is 17 months old and she got sick and started throwing up but is better today. They told me not to give her milk but other fluids and she would not drink anything else which I think made her cranky. Well today she was so mean to me. I don't know how else to put it. I thought I was going to lose my mind and I'm starting to think she doesn't like me. She will get so mad at me and hit me, slap me, pull my hair and pinch my neck really hard and it really hurts and it also hurts my feelings and I just don't know what to do!! We have been slapping her hand and I slapped it pretty hard today which makes me feel even worse! Also of course telling her "No! You do not hit mommy!" But I don't know what to do. She seems so happy when she's with the babysitter and she doesn't want to come home with mean mommy! It really sucks :(

mercedes said...

i too am experiencing the same thing with my 8 month old son, it was as if you were describing him to a tee!

Anonymous said...

Wow I felt i was the only one with this odd situation my 11 month old be haves aggressively not towards me but towards her toys glad is just a face or behaviour that needs correction

Shaunna Nordstrom said...

So did he grow out of this stage? My baby boy is the same right now. I blame myself because I had a rough time for the first months. I think I growled at him more times than I should have while he was SCREAMING NON-STOP!!! Oh its hard being a new Mom. Now I have a Monster on my hands. I hope he gets over this soon because I want to introduce him to other babies...but not if he is the bully!

Anonymous said...

Babies don't have a lot of weapons at their disposal to get what they want. They can't use their words yet, and they don't recognize the emotions they are feeling. So they use what weapons they do have - physical ones. When they are frustrated or angy, as they tend to be when they are trying so hard to do everything, they act out by biting, hitting, and other aggressive behaviors. I have successfully raised children of my own, and have spent countless years in the child care field, and I can assure you, this behavior does end with patience and guidance from the adults. Remember to validate the feelings while you are redirecting and correcting, because they need to know that you understand what they are feeling. When they feel they are loved and understood, they will be more likely to respond to the lessons on how to deal with the feelings. And I will say, it won't change overnight, but it will change.

Britta said...

My baby son does this, he is just 12 months old and so aggressive. The hair pulling, the eyeball gouging and face biting. He is also tender and lovable, and that is definitely something I cling to as a source of comfort. Today, he hauled off and scratched his cousin down the side of her face with a wood chip (she is 11 months) the action was totally unprovoked.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a blessing to find out that othe mommies and daddies are being whaled out on just as I am! Now I know for sure that Zoe DOES NOT need an exorcism! (a little comic relief for those of us who are bruised purple and blue)I think that in teaching a child anything you have to be repetitive!
1. Say NO!
2. Be FIRM
3. Be Consistent