How do we stop our three-year-old daughter from pinching and grabbing arms and stomach?

by Sara

Question: My three-year-old daughter, youngest of two, pinches and grabs my upper arms and stomach seemingly constantly. She does this in a non-aggressive almost affectionate way. However, it is so often that I am cringing when she touches me. When I hug her, her hands go right to my arms. When we snuggle, those hands creep right to arms. She has a hard time being near me without pinching or grabbing my arms or stomach.

She does this to my husband but much less frequently. We have told her no, be gentle, stop. I have even pinched back. Her behavior seems to be totally without thought. We hug, kiss and snuggle, so I can't imagine that her physical touch needs aren't being met.

I am now wondering if there is something more to this, some kind of tactile issue. I want it to stop but I want to help her as well.

Thanks for any input or resources to help us.

Answer: It sounds like it is possible that she may be sensory seeking when she engages in this behavior. My son was recently found to have sensory processing disorder and used to do the exact same thing. However, he would think it was funny when we asked him to stop and do it even more.

I have noticed since we have done the wilbarger brushing protocol with him that he has stopped doing it completely. It's possible that your daughter does have some sensory issues and I would definitely explore the pages I have about this to see if there are any other symptoms present.

In the meantime, when she does it, tell her "That hurts mommy (or mamma), please be gentle." Then take her hand and show her how to gently caress your arms instead. Praise any effort to be gentle, such as "Yes, that is nice and gentle. Mommy likes when you are nice and gentle. Thank you!"

Provide this instruction on only 3-4 occasions as soon as she begins pinching you. If she continues on later occasions after you have told her this on at least 3-4 occasions, then when she does it say "Uh oh! That hurts mommy." Walk away from her while saying, "Let me know when you can be nice and gentle." Do not show any anger, just act very sad that you have to leave.

If you are doing an activity, such as reading a book, or rocking before bedtime, end the activity immediately. Then say, "Uh oh! That hurts mommy. We can finish as soon as you can be nice and gentle." Also, walk away.

If it is during bedtime, simply leave her in bed in the room and do not return for at least 3 minutes or not at all. Again be sure to do this without any anger and only sadness in your voice.

You may need to repeat this consistently to see lasting results, especially if you suspect she may have some sensory processing difficulties. Just be sure not to show any anger or frustration as this may actually be reinforcing her behavior (kids find parental frustration highly entertaining). Good Luck!

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Aggressive behavior

by chantelle williams

Question: Hi, my child was sexually molested by 3 older boys when he was 6yrs old, he is now 9. He was a fairly quiet, gentle child and now every second day I have a call from the teacher saying that he is hurting the kids in class.

It usually happens when somebody hurts him or says things he does not like, he gets really aggressive and when the teacher speaks to him he freezes up and says nothing. How do I help? I don't want this to become a problem at school where he is labelled a bully for the rest of his life.

Answer: Having a meeting with his teacher would be a good place to start, so that she may be able to supervise the other children more closely.

I would also try to practice role-playing with him the typical situations he encounters with these children. Work with him to respond in a more appropriate way by pretending you are the bully and having him react in a better way.

The following is a great resource book with specific scenarios that children often encounter when bullied and how to role play them.

Another thing that is important to remember, but may be hard for you to hear, is that he should always be told that it is never okay to be aggressive to another person.

Sometimes it can be easy to dismiss this behavior when it appears justified, but in the long run you will only set him up for more problems in the future.

Life will always be filled with people that say things we don't want and that can be mean at times. If the message you send him is, "Well, I understand since they were treating you this way." He will never feel it is important to change his own behavior because he will always feel it is justified.

So make sure that whenever there is a situation, your message to him is that there is no excuse for aggressive behavior, then ask him what will he do differently the next time the same situation arises while possibly referring to the book.

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Aggressive behaviors in a 9yr.old autistic child.

by kaprina stewart

Question: At this point in my and with my child's life as well; I am at my wits end as to know how to handle the aggressive behaviors of self-injury, biting, hitting other at inappropriate times.

I have tried to explain that this behviors are not acceptable and I have tried "time-outs", taking objects that would cause sever injury to others. My child was dignosised 2yrs. old this April and the behavior has gotten worse due to more underlying sensory issues.

Overall, I asking for any advice anyone who is or currently going this behavior... I am at my " wits-end".

Mom seeking Postive Autistic/ADD behaviors.

Answer: It sounds like with the underlying sensory issues, he would benefit greatly from some occupational therapy with a trained sensory integration therapist. These behaviors can be a way for a child with sensory issues to attempt to achieve "homeostasis" when they just aren't feeling balanced internally.

A great example of this would be the Carly Fleishmann Story about a young girl that is nonvocal. When she finally finds her voice through computer communication, she explains that if she doesn't bang her head it feels like she is a pop bottle about to explode.

Sensory integration provides a child with daily sensory activities based on their specific needs that achieve this without having to use aggressive behavior.

I also highly recommend getting help from a trained behavior analyst in your area. They will be able to observe your child, determine other functions for the behavior and help you teach alternative replacement behaviors. You can find one by entering your zip code at Good Luck!

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Aggressive Child Behavior

by Haley
(Longview, Tx)

Behavioral problems in my 6 yr old who is Mild MR

Question: I have had behavioral problems with my son since about 4. He has had several psychological evaluations and up until this last one he has been diagnosed with pedi-bipolar and ADHD.

He has been on all kinds of meds and nothing has really done the trick. He has also been in play therapy weekly for the last 2 years. On his most recent evaluation he was tested on the McCarthy Scales for children on his cognitive levels and his general cognitive index was 72 with a mental age of 4 yrs 10 mths. He is 6 yrs 9mths.

When speaking with his pediatrician she believes we are dealing with mild mental retardation. He has also has had occupational evals and speech evals and in both he functions at about 4 yrs 10 mths. His pediatrician has sent him for genetic testing and to a developmental pediatrician doctor.

We have not went to these appts yet. At times he is super aggressive and hurts people and when he realizes what he has done he gets very upset. Ex: He threw a rock at his brother and hit him in the back of the head with it for no reason and when he felt the knot he caused he cried hysterically because he was afraid he would die.

His behavior is so impulsive. I have to keep an eye on him 24/7. He can be super sweet and lovey also. The delays are obvious. People in public usually notice he is different. He tries to talk to anyone and everyone. I have done tons of research and haven't found much info on how to handle these kind of children. Please help!

Answer: Many children with an intellectual disability struggle with impulsive behavior, especially for children also diagnosed with ADHD. Sometimes medications can cause this type of behavior, so making sure to be on the right medication and dosage is very important.

If using ADHD medications, I have found that Adderrall can often cause aggressive and impulsive behavior in children when the dose is wearing off or after a child has been on it for a long time due to decreased effectiveness.

Start by trying to identify certain behaviors he is displaying that indicate he is getting upset. This may be clenched fists, pouting, furrowed eyebrows, or whining. Try to intervene at that point, by removing him from the situation and talking to him about it.

If you are too late and he becomes aggressive then it is important to go through a series of steps after every incident. This is to help him learn to use an appropriate alternative behavior in similar incidents in the future. This may take repetition, but with the cognitive level of a 4 year old he should understand over time.

After any aggressive incidents, place him in a secluded area where he cannot harm others to allow him to calm down. A bedroom is a good place. Let him know when he is calm he you will talk to him. Once he is calm for a few minutes go into to talk to him about the situation using the following approach.

Ask him:

1. What did you do that was wrong? You may have to prompt him to say it- e.g. “I hit my brother.”

2. Why was that wrong? This can be classified into one of three categories – Kindness, Respect, or Obedience (wasn’t following directions). You may want to also elaborate on why these things are important.

3. What will you do differently next time? It works well to give him a choice of good ways to deal with problems – talk about it with an adult, ask for help, follow the direction or leave the room by yourself to calm down.

You may consider doing some role play with him of the same situation to help him practice the chosen behavior making it more likely to occur in the future. If he claims he was aggressive for absolutely no reason then you may find some of the information in my free ebook to be very helpful in dealing with his behavior.

child behavior, child behavior problems ADHD

Having a consistent daily picture schedule for him to help him know what to expect is good, as well as providing frequent meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid blood sugar drops that cause irritability and making sure he is getting the recommended amount of sleep for his age.

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Aggressive 2 year old

by Roger
(Electra, TX USA)

Aggressive 2 year old with Down Syndrome

Question: We have a 2 year old with down syndrome who pushes down her 1 year old sister when we are not watching - How should we teach her that this is unacceptable? We re-direct and have tried "time out".

Answer: Dealing with an aggressive 2 year old can be difficult at first because it takes a lot of repetition for a 2 year old to learn.

You may not notice an immediate elimination of this behavior at first, but over time it should decrease if you continue to redirect and constantly state that "Hands are not for hitting".

Simply separating the children immediately, is your best option because punishment or time outs can actually make the behavior worsen.

This is because the older child will negatively associate the younger child with the punishment and become even more motivated to want to push the younger child again in the future.

I would recommend not leaving the two of them alone together or unsupervised. If you need to get something done, place them in separate cribs or playpens with toys until you are able to supervise them again.

It is actually not typically recommended to leave any child that is less than 5 years old unsupervised with another younger sibling for exactly this reason. They just haven't learned appropriate social skills yet.

I know this may sound difficult, but if you are constantly reacting to the behavior, it will be very difficult to teach the proper social skills when it is the best time to learn - in the moment not after.

Give lots of praise when she appropriately interacts with her younger sibling, encouraging hugs and stating what a great big sister she is. Try to avoid any negative comments about her interactions, but instead simply separate them stating again, "Hands are not for hitting."

You may also consider reading the following book to her on a regular basis to help with repetition.

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Aggressive behavior in children

Ways to respond to aggressive behavior in children.

How to deal with a four year old girl pinching and hitting in preschool when she is not the center of attention or jealous.

Question: We have a 4 year old child in preschool that still hits and pinches other children when she is not the center of attention.

She is an only child that does not always get her way at home. I really need some advice on how to handle this, I'm afraid she will have no friends if this continues. Right now, a lot of children do not want to play with her.

Answer: Unfortunately, aggressive behavior in children is not uncommon during the preschool years. What I have found to work the best is to immediately remove the child from the other children, especially if the behavior is for attention.

If you are her parent, talk to the teachers about how they are handling this. Saying something with empathy not anger such as, "Oh that is so sad, it looks like someone needs some time alone." Then placing her in an area where there are no other children.

After 4 minutes (one minute per year old) and calm behavior for at least 30 seconds, the person that removed her should go and talk to her.

Say something, such as "Hands are not for hitting or pinching. Hands are for hugs, handshakes and high fives (model each one). Can you tell me what else hands are for?" Encourage her to give some more ideas, such as "Hands are for drawing, eating, building with blocks, etc." Then, reiterate again, "Hands are not for hitting."

If you write this out very specifically for each teacher to follow everytime she does this as soon as they see her doing it. You will have more consistency.

I would also try getting this book related to aggressive behavior in children and read it to her at least once every day, possibly even read it to her when having this talk might help. While talking about more appropriate ways to get others to play with her and pay attention to her.

The most important things necessary to eliminate this sort of behavior, is teaching her alternatives for using her hands that will get others to notice her and using consistency.

Responding to aggressive behavior in children by scolding, lecturing or more punishment types of responses, such as "No hitting! Time Out!" said with fierceness can have the reverse effect. It might make her angry and therefore shut down her ability to learn from the situation.

Instead, speaking to her with empathy and a calm tone of voice, and giving the logical consequence of having her go to a secluded space, will help her learn other ways to use her hands for getting attention.

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My son has become so aggressive

by Nancy Jameson
(South Africa , KZN)

Question: Hi,
My son will be 3 in a weeks time and has recently over the last month or two become so aggressive. He hits, kicks and is now biting kids at school. He is generally a very soft child and cries if you raise your voice too loud, so you can imagine this behavior to be surprising to us.

Nothing has changed at home, in fact we have noticed his behavior and almost tried to downplay any situations where we would normally get cross with him for being naughty. He is also now wanting to shoot everything, he is hugely into Ben 10, but has never seen a ben 10 programme at home.

He is doing naughty things and then saying, sorry, he knows they are naughty. His vocab is incredible for his age so I don't think it's an inablility to express his feelings verbally.
Please help with some advice. Is this a phase or do we need to do something about it quick?

Answer: Is there possibly a kid at school, in the neighborhood or elsewhere that he has recently started spending time with? Sometimes simply being around other children with this behavior can cause it to suddenly occur.

A child may look up to this other child and mimic their behavior. There may have also been an incident at school that is making him act out. Talking to him about this may help. Either way, it can be completely normal for children to suddenly begin experimenting to see how their behavior affects their environment.

Remain calm (any sign of frustration can make it much worse), consistent with logical consequences, and don't give in to any demands revolving around the behavior. He should soon realize this type of behavior is not getting him what he wants.

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Strange and Violent Behavior

Question: What is wrong with my stepson?

My step son was 8 when my husband and I first started seeing each other. His son from the very start displayed violent and strange behavior. When I first met his son he asked me to play hide and go seek with him.

When I found him, he was hiding with a baseball bat that he had retrieved from his fathers sporting goods box. He hit me in the head with this bat as hard as he could. When my husband asked him why he did it he said I scared him. He never showed any remorse.

Other strange things, at 12 he urinated in his pants at an arcade because he didn't want to stop playing the game and go to the restroom. At 18 he put a pellet gun in my face and laughed at my discomfort. I had to leave the house to get away from him. At 19 he waited for my husband to leave the house and then he removed all his clothing and exposed himself to me in the livingroom where I was watching TV.

When I told him to cover himself he just stood there laughing at me. I once again had to leave the house to get away from him. He is now out of the house living on his own. I am not around him that much, but when I am it is very uncomfortable.

He hasn't done anything violent lately, however he does passive aggressive things like showing up 3 hours late to dinner or just being a no show. He also blows us off and then tells the family that we blew him off.

I am convinced that he has some form of mental illness. What do you think is wrong with him? Is there any hope that he and I could ever have a normal relationship or should I just keep my distance? He really scares me. Thank you for your help.

Answer: It definitely sounds like there are some underlying issues going on with your stepson. I am not really able to diagnose or give you a specific condition he may have, but I do think that seeking professional help would be a very good idea.

Regardless of whether he does have an underlying mental illness, building a positive relationship between you, your husband and your stepson is extremely important. Working with a marriage and family therapist may be a good place to start in order to talk about some of these issues. Going as a family initially would be a good idea to talk about any family dynamics involved.

The therapist may also be able to shed some light on these behaviors for you and determine whether he may possibly need further evaluation without necessarily sending him by himself. That could communicate to him you think there is something wrong with him, which may just fuel the fire.

Good Luck!

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How can I help my sister to manage her temper and reduce it?

by Miss worried

Question: Dear reciever,
Actually, my sister is a teenage student and she quite often gets agressive even in small matters. She gets angry and starts to throw things haphazardly.

In many cases she throws even weapons at others - the person with whom she is angry. I am really worried because of this problem. I tried to consult psychiatrists but they too couldn't help me. Please suggest me something please help me.

Answer: You may want to try looking for a board certified behavior analyst in your area to assess and evaluate her behavior. A link to find one is at BACB, although you may have to possibly travel a distance.

You may first want to have her evaluated by a gynecologist to have her hormone levels tested. Many teenage girls have hormonal imbalances that can be corrected with natural replacement therapy. When the hormones are out of balance there are often exacerbated symptoms of PMS, which can be almost all of the time, not just before getting a period.

Other tests you might want to consider are those for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) and thyroid dysfunction.

PANDAS is often a condition associated with rages and violent behavior. It is not commonly recognized and can often be missed as a contributing factor. Thyroid dysfunction is very common in females and causes extreme irritability.
Good luck!

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