Too Young to Be a difficult child? Wondering.....

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
I've been watching the baby Aubrey while Nichole goes to class since I've finished with clinicals. I've noticed some behavior that has caused me, the veteran Mom of 3 difficult child kids, to sit up and take notice. I'm just not exactly sure what to think of it.

First of all, Aubrey is NOT spoiled. Far from it. Just thought I'd clarify that one. lol

I've noticed that when the baby (14 mos old) thinks you've done something She doesn't like she'll give you a look of either contempt or utter defiance. Then she'll haul off and slap you.

Now, her mother was a difficult child from the very beginning. But even as bad as Nichole was as a todder..... (and she WAS) Aubrey has her licked.

I never dreamed a 14 month old could look at someone with contempt OR defiance. Now I have had a toddler slap me. But usually out of frustration or they'll giggle while they do it. Aubrey seems to know exactly why she's hitting you and doing it on purpose. It's downright unsettling to watch her in action.

Then today at lunchtime she and Nana had a battle of wills. (obviously Aubrey didn't know who she is dealing with lol) It was awful. I knew she was hungry. But she up and decided about half way thru that she didn't want to sit still and eat. Temper tantrum is an understatement. Mostly because I kept getting those looks and she'd reach in and take the bite of food out of her mouth. This was food she loves by the way.

So Nana just kept right on shoveling it in. When she'd take her hands to pull it out, I'd "spank" her hands and put it right back. Took her forever to get the idea that her actions weren't going to get the result she wanted. Then she ate with no problem.

No wonder Nichole gets so frustrated feeding her. We discussed this tonight. I told Nichole that she has to be more stubborn than the baby, and told her I'd show her how to get her to eat. Aubrey is too thin to skip meals.

And now I see the "falling apart" behavior that we had with Nichole as a toddler. Where the baby can be playing just fine and all of a sudden her mood changes and she's cranky, whiney, and fussy for no reason. If you try to console her you're risking a meltdown. Happens just as often when she's already had her nap and isn't tired.

Yet the baby also is very loving and tender. When she's happy she's very happy. She's almost too smart. by the way she finally hit one developmental milestone on time. She's walking now. Whew!

But in all the God knows how many kids I've cared for over the years, I've never seen outright defiance in one so young before. Even Nichole didn't do that one. Hers were mostly meltdowns and refusing to do anything.

We'll just have to keep redirecting and being more stubborn than she is I guess. But have any of you seen this in a 14 month old??


Well-Known Member

Keyana will shake her head no and refuse to do something sometimes and you simply cant make her.

For instance, if she is full and I try to get her to eat another bite of food, she shakes her head NO and wont open up. I just tell her more food and take the dish away. She also does this limp rag doll act when she doesnt want to stand up and practice her walking. She just took her first steps but hates to even try it and would much rather crawl. So if I try to make her stand up in the middle of the room she goes limp on me and if she isnt in the mood she will refuse and not lock those

Most of the time we can cajole her into getting with the program but there has been a time or two she was out of sorts but we can normally trace it back to some problem such as not feeling well, naptime, etc.

In your case I think I would watch this closely and keep her on a short leash. Be consistent and firm with her. Maybe she needs lots of limits and structure in her day. Any chance she can get into some sort of free moms morning out program? That may give you guys a chance to see her around other babies.


difficult child 2 acted like this, too, at the whopping old age of 9 months.

He mostly didn't care who was around him or what they were doing, but his usual mode of operation was what we called seek and destroy. And it was with intent. By 12-16 months, there was no question about it. He enjoyed hitting the cat and literally spent most of his time walking around pushing things off things - lamps off end tables, soap off the lavatory, dishes off the counter, laundry off the bed... literally, while he was awake, your one and only goal in life was disaster control - follow him around and physically stop him.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful

Aubrey does the limp rag doll routine, too. (and so did her mother lol) I learned to work around it with Nichole, and am teaching her to do the same with the baby. Usually with the limpness just redirection works. Except for the walking. We couldn't get Aubrey to practice like other babies will. She'd go limp. So I told Nichole to leave her alone when she does it and let her do it at her own pace.

It's just the look that comes onto this baby's face, I swear it would unnerve you. I've seen onery, I've seen downright stubborness, I've even see the ain't got a clue what you want me to do one. But the expressions she gets I would expect on a much older child.

I'll have to see if we have some programs like that.




Active Member
You really have to think laterally with a difficult child.

Your techniques bore fruit but they are techniques which would be frowned on these days in many places. I'm not saying you were doing the wrong thing - I also used to do similar things when minding all my sisters' kids - but these days anyone other than a parent administering ANY physical punishment can get you into hot water. In some places, even the parents can be in trouble. My mother taught me to smack the offending body part: not to cause pain, because that's not the aim, but to give a short, sharp reminder to not do the wrong thing. A baby crawling to a floor power socket, when they know it's wrong (and you can see the look they give you as they reach out to touch it while watching for your reaction) - my mother would flick the fingers, say, "No!" and remove the child. Over and over, if necessary. usually it was only necessary no more than twice. But these days - frowned upon.

So here's some lateral thinking ideas - when she hits, put mittens on her. The mittens are to punish the naughty hand. SHE isn't being naughty, just her hand. You'll probably have to make some mittens specially, just a padded rectangular bag for each hand which does up at the wrist with velcro, so there is NO WAY she can get them off with her teeth, etc. With the padding she can't do as much damage. And the bigger the mittens, the floppier they will be also. It will be blindingly obvious that she is attempting to hit (ie SHE can't pretend she didn't mean it) and you can see it coming. PLUS - the blow will be ineffectual, with the floppy mittens. NOT satisfying from her point of view.
Similarly, the mittens can stop her taking food out of her mouth. Plus, they come in real handy if she ever gets chickenpox.

I would handle the meal problem differently, though. You say she can't afford to skip a meal - unless she is dangerously underweight, I wouldn't worry. The best punishment (if punishment it is) is to remove the food and conclude meal time. But NO more food until NEXT meal time.
The other option - offer an incentive if she finishes the plate without misbehaving. And be firm and stick to it (as you would anyway).

If she is REALLY underweight, you may need to change tactics entirely with meals. A young friend of ours was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at about 3 and she was already badly underweight. She would be too tired to eat much or even chew, so her mother WOULD let her up from the table and would follow her around with food all day, spooning in a bit here and a bit there, to get her through. The little girl would fall asleep even if she was hungry, because eating had worn her out, so they served up 'easy' food for her, as well as fattening high-carb food. The mother also kept 'open house' with the neighbourhood kids, so there was always stimulation and snack food all round. Their other child did not grow up to be overweight in any way, so there wasn't a problem with the diet in that respect. The little girl is now a uni student, living independently and doing well, although she still has muscular dystrophy.
But following her around with food - it worked for them. The girl wasn't spoiled, because it was a way of getting what she needed into her. She didn't get all the toys she wanted, or get to run amok in other ways.

I remember easy child being fussy with food at this age - she had one bottle a day and nothing else but water. So I put a raw egg into her bottle of formula.

They say a young child will not starve themselves. In general I agree but there are always exceptions, especially with difficult child kids. And I do agree with your assessment, she sounds at least potentially difficult child. With hindsight, we can see the difficult child in our kids from their first year.



Well-Known Member
Putting anything on Keyanas hands would induce a meltdown of difficult child

Keyana can hit out at us on occasion but I think she is playing. I dont think she is doing it with intent to actually be mean. We catch her hands and say "NO HIT, that hurts!" She will hang her head and pout a bit then give a hug and a kiss.

She has also started biting at day care they say but we havent seen any of that behavior at our house. Heaven help her the day she bites She has a nice set of chompers and she will hurt me. Day care puts her in time out which is useless in my opinion because at her age she doesnt have the cognitive skills to process a time out.

So far the only "punishment" we have really had to dole out is at bedtime. She used to go down so easy but I think her other family lets her stay up to all hours and fall asleep anywhere and I refuse to do that. She has to go to bed at a decent hour at my house and in her crib. Cory follows my lead at my house and agrees with me. Keyana will have to learn that there are different rules at different homes. We have had to give her a couple of soft swats on her diaper to get her to stop screaming her darned head off when its bed time. She is so obviously tired but fighting sleep and just getting worked up. The swats dont hurt but make noise and settle her down so she will lay down and hold her glow worm. Then she falls asleep.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
My mother taught me to smack the offending body part: not to cause pain, because that's not the aim, but to give a short, sharp reminder to not do the wrong thing.

Marg that's the technique I used. It doesn't hurt at all, just gets their attention and lets them know the "action" they're doing is wrong. Aubrey is seriously underweight. Often I'll just say mealtime is over when a baby refuses to eat and just not give thm snacks til the next meal. But we can't do this with the baby. For one it doesn't work. And she needs every calorie we can get into her. (this one is like her mother, she'd starve herself if we'd let her)

That mitten idea sounds good, though. I wonder if I can find mittens at this time of year. Hmmmm.


I thank my lucky stars that Aubrey hasn't thought to bite. I hate having to correct that behavior. I'm also grateful Nichole had the good sense to create a bedtime for the baby as well as naptimes. We don't have any trouble getting her to go to sleep.

Time Out at Keyana and Aubrey's age in my opinion is useless. They're just to young to get the concept. I don't start that one til a child is almost 2.

This morning Aubrey is being an angel. lol Crawling around on the floor playing with her toys happy go lucky.


Well-Known Member
I dont think Keyana would be a biter if it wasnt for day care. I have a feeling it only happens as a reaction to another kid annoying her or grabbing her toys. She has never made the first offer to bite us at all and we have even tried to annoy her and grab a toy from her to see if we could make her mad enough to bite.

It might be that the other little ones are just right there in biting range.

LOL...did you ever think we would be sitting here at our ages discussing toddler behaviors!


Active Member
The mittens - the ones that work best are NOT the sort kids wear in the snow, although that IS an idea - some of them are really 'bouffy', like mini-boxing gloves. The ones I was suggesting are more like the ones people sometimes put on a young baby (say, a newborn with long fingernails) to prevent them scratching themselves/other people. For example, when difficult child 3 was 2 and had really bad croup, he was clawing at his face to try to get away whatever it was that seemed to be obstructing his breathing - poor little tyke, he simply couldn't understand and had insufficient language to understand anything he was told.
For a child Keyana's age, you might need to make something, but sewing simple rectangular t-shirt cotton 'gloves' should be easy - like making lavender bags.

I mentioned I spent a lot of time helping with various sisters' kids. One sister lived next door to us and my sister had a rough time when the older two were about 12 & 24 months. The two-year-old was a hair-puller; the one-year-old was a biter. She stopped off in our driveway one afternoon and left them in the car (car seats were different in those days - a bar in front, no harness). While inside our house we heard both boys screaming. We rushed outside and found the two-year-old clutching handfuls of baby brother's hair, with lots more hair floating round the car. As my sister spanked him she saw a big, red welt of a bite mark on his arm. We reconstructed it - Mum left the car. Baby brother immediately leant over to his brother's arm and bit, HARD. Big brother immediately grabbed handfuls of hair (to get baby brother off his arm) and pulled hard, and kept grabbing and pulling. As soon as baby brother began to scream, the biting stopped. But the pain for both continued.

The amazing thing (maybe not so amazing) - this incident cured both boys at the same time. And I'm not sure if anything else would have been so miraculous. And yet - definitely not recommended!



Well-Known Member
Just a thought to add. This age is the easiest time to check for food allergies, at least you can rule it out if you think she is heading to difficult child tendencies.


Too young? I always say that my difficult child came out this way and has just gained experience. Seriously though, from birth it was obvious she was more challenging.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful

That's a good idea. We've been watching for them.

Well, seems easy child has also noticed "the look" Aubrey gives right before hauling off and hitting. She's also been taking turns babysitting.

Tonight we gave the baby mostly table foods. Fried chicken without skin, mashed ptatoes and gravy, corn bread. We let her feed herself for awhile. She didn't do too bad. Then started losing patience. Pretty normal for her age. But had a hissy when Nichole started to "help" her. Nichole gave up and Nana took over. Lots of crying, but not the battle like the other day. Then she happily ate a whole jar of bananas and had seconds of cornbread. She wound up eating a really good meal. lol

We praised her for eating it "all gone" and she was rewarded with some playtime outside. easy child and Darrin had popped in for a visit. :smile:

The rough part is I'm having to teach Mom that she can't just give up the moment the baby starts to fuss, while teaching Aubrey that tantrums won't get her what she wants.


I think the puffy winter kind of mittens might work better. :wink: