What to do when babies start hitting or biting

This is a sensitive, controversial subject.

I think we are awesome at talking about some hard, personal issues such as anxiety, depression, transition to motherhood and changing relationships with loved ones.

But how to react and what to do when your precious baby starts unsocial behaviour is such a tough one.

It’s not just about how we react, but how we react differently when we are on our own, with our partner, our
mother, father, in-laws or friends.

We assume that we will be true to ourselves and parent in our own way, but it quickly becomes messy when our instincts are corrupted by the views of others.

How we respond can change how we react to someone’s opinion, and we can soon question our parenting instincts and what feels right for us and our own babies.

Between the age of 6-18 months, our precious bundles start to be more like little people of the world, with their own emotions and curiosity.

All-consuming emotions of joy, frustration and curiosity can lead babies to take toys or food from other babies, to hit other children, to bite them or bite us.

But is this behaviour malicious and how do we respond age appropriately? How do we respond in a way that is acceptable by other parents or family members? And does it matter?

My view is that you just need to relax, and not over do it.

They are still babies. They are not spiteful, they do not intend to hurt.

We need to lead their play and behaviour but it’s not necessary to teach them lessons. That can come later.
When a child takes a toy from another it’s only because it is there, and they are curious about it. The same with food.

If they hit another child at this age, it’s because it is a movement of their arm, part of their play in feeling and experiencing an action.

Let children be children. Teach them not to sweat the small stuff, it’s no big deal they lost a toy, don’t encourage self-righteousness.

If they are not crying over the loss of a toy, let them go.  It does not mean that building resilience is making them a push-over, but they then learn how to play independently, problem-solve and self-regulate.

They look up to us (parents) as to how we react as to how they respond. They are not bothered at this age if a toy or food is taken from them. The taker is only being curious and reaching for what is in front of them.

Don’t foster the victim mentality. Give them resilience, perspective, a care factor, ‘it’s all going to be alright’.

Don’t teach our babies that everything is fair, that there is always justice.

You are not promoting ‘roll-over’, but ‘who-cares’? Let them problem solve, work it out, find an answer, find the next best or bigger thing.

Don’t conform to the need to be the judicator, judge or peace maker all the time.

Don’t sit on the edge ready to battle, don’t white knuckle your way through parenting. Relax. Reactivity feeds the anxiety-virus.

Relaxing means to chill-out. Be proactive, rather than reactive.

Even saying to yourself that you are going to relax for the day or the outing, is being proactive, you are consciously setting your intention.

Write a big fat R on your arm or hand if you need to. When you consciously relax, move your body posture back rather than slumping forward towards your child, you can achieve a 360 degree look at the world.

Not only that, you feel better, you look relaxed, and you will be surprised at how others take your lead.

What we fear in relaxing, is that others will assume we are being irresponsible or disrespectful.

I disagree and believe that the most powerful person in the room is the most relaxed one. They are alluding that everything is going to be alright.  

Because it will be.

It does not mean you do nothing. It means you don’t keep looking for the next thing to do, the next reaction, instead, you wait for that intuitive voice that tells you what you want to do and when.

It becomes a reaction of your heart, not an expectation of how you think another parent thinks you should behave or act.
Contributed by Summer Gwynne,
Summer Breeze Consultancy

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