The FASD Trust
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How do you deal with a toddler who hits, head bangs, thumps and kicks?

Our grandson (we have SGO) has recently started hitting etc and his face changes when he is doing these things, especially his eye area. He will look directly at me and try to slap my face or kick if I'm changing his nappy. He is 21 mths old, trying to potty train but he refuses,however he will then get off the potty and wee elsewhere.

Any ideas?

3 Replies

Hi Kumiko

Our grandson: similar age when he came to us had very similar issues: How long have you had him with you? I take it he hurts himself (with head banging etc) as well as you. Is he delayed in any way? (talking, fine motor control, etc) If so, I'd not worry about potty training at the same sort of time as a normal child, because there's a lot of CONTROL issues about toileting - and it's something he is in charge of - there's not much when you're 21 months! Perhaps just let him run round without pants during the summer so he can make a connection and if it happens, point it out and offer the potty "next time" (I've been trying to do it the last 2 summers with GS, but the weather's been so awful he's been inside all the time and that's more tricky!

HOWEVER at 6am this very morning, GS announced he needed to sit on the toilet (he is six now! - but developmentally 3-4) and after half an hour of excitedly flushing the toilet, talking about the chocolate buttons he'll get when he does a wee in the toilet, and playing in the bathroom happily, he did a wee about 1" to the left of the toilet! Not many grandparents see this as a positive, but it's a world shattering event here!!! - and yes he got 4 chocolate buttons, one for having a dry nappy, 1 for asking for the toilet, one for sitting on it quite cheerfully, and one for the near miss. And a clap. A big loud clap.....)

Also if he's had traumatic life experiences (outside the womb:even though that's bad enough isn't it?) then he may also have some attachment problems and that often has very difficult behaviour with it. You can acknowledge to him when he strikes out, that you know he's really cross, but that we don't let him hurt people when he's cross: not even himself. At 21 months he's small enough to hold a foot or hand gently but firmly (maybe rub it or play piggies: not that one feels inclined to do this while fending off attacks but it can be a positive place to get him to engage because hes in a very aroused state while he's attacking and angry, and that's a good place to put something positive in) while you talk to him.

But he might just need you near and attentive while he calms down if physical pressure increases his attacks. I have found my grandson needs VERY firm pressure when he's hyper (I know what you mean about the eyes changing: he just loses touch with reality sometimes..) and I swaddle him, or do some firm pressure on arms or back, or a tight cuddle: it's a sensory issue with him - he needs firm touch to calm. Not all children do - but it can be magic when you make the connection! Just looks a little odd when you have a very strong 6 year old..... If he's angry, his brain will all be shut down in the reasoning areas, and will have gone to the primitive brain responses of fight or flight - touch and calm assurance and your presence with him while he's in this aroused state, will get through in that state where words on their own and "normal" parenting won't.....

Hope that is helpful and gives you some ideas. We don't seem to have a facility to private message on this forum, which is a shame - Adoption UK do and so one can talk more precisely about behaviours that you might not want to put on a public board. (moderator please note?) Fingers crossed for both of us that the weather improves for toilet training in a stressless way....:-)


Hi Madauntiealis

Thanks for the tips, we've had him since he came home from Special Care Baby Unit at 1 week old but we visited him everyday. When he is hitting etc, he looks me in the eye and has a slight grin on his face, if I hold his hands or legs he struggles to get free in order to carry on. No, he doesn't hurt himself. Good luck to you too re the potty training.


Hi have you also had his eye sight tested? Sometimes they cannot see clearly. I would also ask your gp at what age you can be referred to occupational therapy as they will help too


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