Acting out by a 16month old - FamilyEducation
Acting out by a 16month old
05/05/2008 at 22:49 PM

My head can't take much more:(  My nephew is adorable and cute and sweet....etc..etc..etc..etc......... HOWEVER, when he's bored or doesn't get his way and especially if he's in the highchair for more than 10 minutes - - he screams this loud, ear splitting, high pitched (you get the idea:) scream.  Telling him no, doesn't work
Smacking his leg or hand
Asking him to stop, neither of these work either.

If anyone has any advice, please tell us...otherwise this child will be hung up by his toenail!!! ;0) !!!!

Well, I'm assuming that at 16 months old, he can't talk. So, as a BABY, there really is no other way for him to tell you if he is unhappy, uncomfotable, sad, itchy, sick, wet, ect. ect. ect. - crying or screaming is pretty much his only language at the moment. I think hitting a BABY for crying and getting on your nerves is terrible. If your nerves just can't take the antics of a baby perhaps you should not be in charge of taking care of him. Just my opinion.

Does he still use a crib? I would take the same action every time he screams and place him calmly in his crib or his bedroom or bed. Don't yell back or hit him because I have learned hitting does not work. When you hit, pretty much anyone, they cry, yell, scream... that kinda defeats the purpose. Talk calmly and quietly even if your message is lost in the noise of his scream. Place him in another room and move on to another task until he has calmed down. Don't allow his behavior to lead you to be irrational, you are the adult, remind yourself that you have ALL the power and then chose to be an honorable care giver. Good Luck

I'm sorry that you feel like I resent this child and beat him. I guess my choice of words was poor. IF he gets smacked on the leg, it is rare and only to try and get his attention. I understand that he can't vocalize his feelings, but these fits appear to happen for no reason at all. At what point do you start to teach proper behavior? A 16 month old has the attention span of a knat, but how early is too early to expect a minute or two of patience instead of immediatelly and insistently demanding something. I don't claim to be perfect...far from it, but I also don't want to be made out to be a child abuser either. I love this child as if he where my own and he lights up my world with his smile/laugh, he is a blessing from God and the best thing to happen to our family. I understand that this is probably a stage he's going through and in the next month or so...he'll move on to something else. I was only trying to get some advice on how to handle these outbursts and some insight as to why they might be occuring. Again I apologize if my wording lead you to believe something else.

Is he walking or attempting to walk yet? As you say, he does this when he is bored so the best solution is to stop him from getting bored. Not easy I know. Offer him treasure baskets for heuristic play. You can put anything in the basket which is safe for him to put in his mouth as he no doubt will. Nothing which has sharp edges or can break to make sharp edges, things that are washable, and things which are big enough for him not to choke on. Things like clean jar lids, small pots, ribbon, etc, etc, etc. Children love to sit and investigate things like these. Outdoor play is very important, and if you don't have a garden, how about taking him to the park. Any outing is good. Lots to see and places to explore. Involve him in everyday activities such as housework. He is old enough to hold a duster. You can even let him help you bake. Books are also very important. He can sit with thick board books with bright pictures, by himself, and all children love to be read to. He is at an age when his mental processes are more advanced than his physical development. He wants to do things but his little body lets him down, and this can make children very frustrated. This will change as he gets older and more physically able to tackle what he wants to do. Just keep him busy. Probably just the way you said it, but if you have read the thread about spanking, you will know that there are some very strong opinions amongst this group on that subject. I am very much against it myself, and as you now know from experience, it doesn't work anyway especially with a child so young. Good luck with the young man.

You handled that comment very diplomatically....good job! I did not get what that poster got by reading your post. You wer at your wits end and tried to be funny. Anyway, I agree with tam that you should find a safe place, like his crib and leave him there until he calms down. Eventually he will see the connection of him screaming to him being put alone in his room for a time out :)

Putting a child in his crib or cot for time out is not a good idea. It will make him associate it with punishment and start a whole new ball game of bedtime problems. His bed should be a safe place for him to go for sleep only. If you feel time out would be of any use, maybe adopt another safe area or use a play pen. I personally don't think time-out is a viable option for a child this young. It would only frustrate him more. He obviously needs a lot of stimulation and that is his due.

I agree with junieg, sending the child to their crib only creates a second problem at bedtime. They'll feel that they did something wrong when nap/bedtime rolls around.

Your child is just trying to communicate with you and without words, they only have a few options. It's your job to teach them how to communicate. It may be frustrating, but try playing 20 questions with them and ask them if they way more, want up, etc. Also reinforce each question with some type of sign. Check out for some of the specific signs.

We've found it very helpful when our daughter has a fit and starts screaming. She's usually better once she knows that she has successfully communicated with us, even if she doesn't get her way. Worse case scenario is after five minutes of playing 20 questions, your child will have forgotten what they were upset about ;-)
Good Luck!

I can see how sending a child to his/her crib could create a bedtime problem, but if playing 20 questions gets you so frustrated that you want to hit then time out is a better option until you get your nerves in check. It is your responsibility as a caregiver to give the child his/her due attention, but all people are different and we all have different intellect. You should try some of the suggestions and find what works best for you and the child without screaming or hitting. Good Luck!!

Just a question. Do you babysit your nephew regularly? By your comment, it sounds like you spend a lot of time w/ him. I can understand how such an ear piercing scream wld make your head want to explode. But remember, he's the child and you're the adult. Although I'm not a professional, I've spent a lot of time w/ young children, both in day care and as a nanny, and now as a mom. I've learned to differentiate between the screams and cries, and handled each situation as appropriate. If your nephew is bored, as you say, try playing simple games like finger plays, patty cake or peek a boo. Babies love that. You can even try floor exercises where you lay the baby on the floor and rotate his arms and legs to music, or try the "head, shoulders, knees and toes" song. Also move your nephew from room to room, walking w/ him, talking to him, letting him explore his surroundings. Take him outside or to the park on nice days. Babies love to explore, and they also need change of scenery. If you need to get something done (prepare a meal, switch laundry...), sit your nephew in a swing, bouncy seat or exesaucer that plays music or has lights to stimulate him more. These are all things I did w/ my children that helped me. As far as your nephew screaming to get his way, that's normal too. It's your job as caregiver to set the rules and stick to them. I think it depends on the situation in this case. If your nephew wants to open a cabinet to get at the tupperware containers, so what. However, if he wants to put his finger in an outlet, that's a whole different story. When it comes to discipline, I wld try to distract your nephew and redirect him as best as you can. From my experience, time-outs did not work w/ my kids at that age. I don't think a light tap on the hand and a strong "NO!" is such a terrible thing in a danger situation. I just wldn't use it regularly for every little thing. This is my opinion, but every parent is different. I hope my advice helps make the time w/ your nephew a little more pleasant. Overall, though, he sounds like a sweet little boy. Good luck!