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Advice about Pinching
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Advice about Pinching
Hi there -
I hope I'm not alone in this. My sweet little 20 mth-
old boy is the pincher. He started doing this frequently about 2
months ago when he started daycare. He also had started biting a
month or so before. This is the same child that people often
tell us is such ''a happy, smiley child''. The biting has ceased
quite a bit (in fact, he's only bitten a kid at daycare once)
but he still forgets and tries (at least at home). The pinching
bewilders me. We don't pinch him and as far as I know, he has
never been pinched. His caregiver says that she has watched him
daydream at the table and while doing so, his little hand will
reach out to pinch the kid next to him. At home, he tries
pinching and biting when we say ''no'' to something and he's
irritated - I have more or less reduced his biting and pinching
me by ignoring it and moving his hand/face away while I pretend
to look away or just sing a song. I can't expect a bunch of 2-5
year-olds to do the same. What am I doing wrong? Where is this
aggression coming from? There's also the screaming/screeching
that drives me and my husband nuts. I see all of this as
agression that needs to be dealt with (and any advice on the
screeching will alsobe appreciated) but first and foremost I'd
like to put an end to the daycare pinching. I am really stessed
out by this so any help will be most appreciated.
Tired of Pinching
The pinching is actually not really aggression in the sense you're
thinking. It, just like biting and hitting, is more due to an inability to
with frustration, and also to a desire to communicate and have an effect
on the people around him. You are doing nothing wrong, kids just do
this, it is perfectly normal, and will go away if you keep doing as you do.
My little son's 2 1/2 year old friend was quite a biter when she was 15
months old -- my son came home with bite marks more than once -- and
now that she can talk well, she is a delightful little girl who gets very
concerned about the other kids at daycare when they cry, running over
to kiss, hug, and comfort them. Our daycare provider simply removed
her when she bit, and explained, over and over (and OVER) to her that it
wasn't nice to bite the other kids, and it made them sad. But the daycare
provider also assured all of us that this was normal and nothing to worry
I know exactly what you are going through and it is so
frustrating. My son didn't really pinch, but he grabbed other
people's faces and hair. He did it without thinking...without
being angry...it was just like this mechanical thing he did.
And, like you I was so frustrated b/c we never were violent
towards him at home. I read books, talked to my pediatrician,
and all the advice didn't really help. I think the problem is
that all kids do things for different reasons. For my son, it
seemed like it was just and impulse he had and he was at an age
when he had no impulse control.
We worked with him for months, telling him no and even doing
time outs. Sometimes the more I told him no, the more he would
do it (that's the other thing, sometimes the motivation then
changes. it started out as a random act, then it became an
attention getting thing.)
So the good news is that my son has gotten much better. He
still occasionally grabs and hurts other kids, but he does it
much less frequently. In his case, what really seemed to help
was teaching him the word for ''hurt.'' We taught our son that
certain things were ''ooowie''. When he fell down or hit his
head, that was ''oowie.'' Then, whe he grabed my face or pulled my
hair, that was also ''oowie.''
Also telling him ''no'' has helped. The first clue that we knew he
was getting it was that he would say ''no'' before he grabbed. It
was like he knew it was wrong but just didn't have the impulse
control to stop himself.
Also we changed caregivers for our son. His original
babysitter, while very loving, was not being very effective in
dealing with his behavior. he was sharing childcare and he and
the other boy were apparently hitting and grabbing each other
all day long. She was primarily spanish speaking and I had a
hard time conveying to her how to handle the situation. Now we
have a caregiver who I communicate with more clearly. He is
still in shared childcare, but the caregiver is really on top of
the situation so that my son is getting the same responses from
both of us. The caregiver reports that my son rarely if ever
touches the other kids he shares with.
Finally I would like to say that having a child who even
inadvertently hurts other children is a really isolating
experience. I got to the point where I wouldn't even take him
to the park or go over for playdates anymore. Everyone seemed
to have advice and none of it seemed to apply to my child.
Parents who have children who don't have this problem just don't
understand. I had so many people telling me about the one time
their daughter hit someone and how they handled it so well that
their daughter never did it again. The breaking point for me was
when my pediatrician, after consulting her about this, gave me a
hand out saying that children who hurt other children don't feel
loved. I could have died!
Anyway, the only thing I think that could help is if you really
get frustrated, have a behavoral therapist or someone who
specializes in child behavioral issues come out and do an
evaluation specifically of your child and then give you advice.
Because if the person doesn't know your child specifically, I
think the advice probably won't be that useful.
I wish you well
my 9 month old daughter pinches and I am at a loss of what to do.
she pinches my neck, face and arms when I hold her and when
nursing she pinches my chest and ribs. she pinches surprisingly
hard! it hurts and if her nails aren't cut short enough she leaves
little nail scratches. when she pinches I grab her hand and firmly
say "no". sometimes she smiles and sometimes she just looks at me but
it does not appear to curb her habit. I tried to put mittens on her
hands for nursing but she gets very angry and kind of freaks out.
I'm afraid this is going to lead to an even bigger problem when she
gets older but I have no idea how to teach her to stop.
My daughter pinched at around the same age, maybe older. And it was
also surprisingly painful. What worked for me was to take her little
pinching hand and hold it in front of her body in my hand. She didn't
like to be restrained and cried. Then she got clever and would pinch
me with the other hand, the little devil! So, then I'd capture the
other hand and hold both of her hands in my one hand in front of her
body. I'd let her be mad and cry for 15-20 seconds and then release.
She stopped doing it. I'd love to claim credit but maybe she just
grew out of it. I also found that I needed to keep her nails really
short so that any scrabbly behavior on my chest while nursing was not
so irritating. Good luck.
My daughter developed the same habit at about 11 months and it is now
tapering off at 14 months. She would pinch my neck and arms while I
nursed her or cuddled her to sleep. Telling her no pinching didn't
work. It seemed to me like she couldn't not do it, like it was
somehow soothing her. At first I was concerned about her becoming a
pincher, but she only does it to me (the pleasures of motherhood!),
and like I said, it seemed to soothe her, she wasn't doing it to hurt
or because she was frustrated. Here are a few things that worked:
wearing a long-sleeve turtleneck when I cuddle or nurse her, having
her cuddle a stuffed animal while I cuddle her and telling her to
pinch that. Once when we were reading a book, she pointed to a crab
and I told her that crabs pinch and that "baby girls do not pinch."
For some reason, that made an impact. Now when I tell her not to
pinch, pinching hurts, she says "crab" and stops. Good luck! It
seems to be tapering off here.
My son was also a pincher for a while, around that age, it passed after
a short time. My general approach to many behaviors that I don't want
to encourage is just to ignore them. I feel that "no, no no" from the
parent just draws attention to the unwanted behavior and the child likes
to see that reaction. Not everyone would agree with me on that... So
when my son pinched, I tried to be ready for it, his hand would be
touching my skin, and I would try to be ready to stop him as soon as I
could. I didn't even say no pinching. Just stopped the behavior and
moved on. For your daughter, I might consider putting her down with
some toys if she pinched while I was holding her and quietly stopping
the nursing when she begins to pinch. Good luck.
Do you have some interesting objects she could pinch while she nurses
or that you could put in her hands when she starts to pinch? Maybe a
necklace with large beads, a koosh ball, a beanbag, a novel squishy
toy, anything that she can squeeze easily between her fingers. She may
be discovering how her pincher grasp works and enjoying trying it out
wherever she can. Redirection to something fun and more appropriate
than your skin might meet both of your needs.
Pinching is normal at this age. Both my kids did it and stopped after a
few weeks. My oldest is now 3 and he has never been a physically
aggressive child (no hitting, biting, pinching other kids).
Our son also pinched at around 9 months and we were not thrilled either! His older brother
never did this and only played with our hands. I let him pinch the least painful places, hands,
arms stomach etc. he finally began to gently pinch/grab his neck area while having a bottle or
nursing and gave pinching up altogether around 1 year. Now he will sometimes pinch or grab
our skin slightly but it doesn't hurt. I never tried saying no cause I didn't think it would work
and because I thought that this is just his way of calming down and falling asleep. I tried all
kinds of hand caressing in hopes that he would prefer to do that, but he never did. I think it
will probably pass.
this page was last updated: Aug 3, 2004
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