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My niece has been biting, hair pulling etc

My niece is nearly 2 1/2 and has been biting, hair pulling etc for over a year now and has recently increased this to unprovoked face scratching and eye gouging of my son who is two weeks younger. Time out and other things have been tried to no avail - I think she is loving the power as she has a little smirk on her face when made to apologise. Apart from this we get on well and spend lots of time together, my sister-in-law and I haved discussed and tried possible solutions but nothing is working. I worry about this all the time and would love some advice to end this vicious behaviour.

Sally...
Answer: Hi , It is great that you have her mother “on board” with your concerns. Time out is usually a successful strategy, but perhaps take that step further of driving her home as soon as she starts this behaviour. A challenge for us as parents is ‘consistency’. Often when we set up rules and consequences, we really do not want to have to follow through. As a mother of 4, I know that when I have been out somewhere, if my child intentionally misbehaved, I would sometimes give warnings (then more warnings) because I did not want to leave. However I quickly learned that I was teaching my child that sometimes they will be taken home, but sometimes they will get mum or dad’s undivided attention for behaving inappropriately. That was NOT the lesson I wanted to teach them! It is important to make sure that we let them know that EVERY time they hurt someone, they will be IMMEDIATELY removed from the situation without any discussion. There is no need to reason with them or enter a conversation as to why we are removing them (because this is giving them the attention that they are seeking). She already knows that what she is doing is not appropriate! Hopefully once she sees that the consequences are ALWAYS the same (ie. being taken straight home) then she will stop the behaviours quite quickly. All the Best! Sally-Anne
Answered: 29 Nov 2007