Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/mi 15 month old is hitting and biting


Hello I am a single mother and I have a 15 month old daughter named Jaelah. I currently live with my father and step mother. Jaelah is my only child and lately she has been hitting and biting me and my parents. I am new to this and I tell her no and make her sit for about a minute. But I dont think she quite understands yet that its not ok to hit or bite. She gets a smirk on her face and repeatedly does it through out the day. I think she learned it at the daycare I was taking her to. What can I do to teach her its not ok to bite and hit? Its hard to reason with a rambunctious 15 month old

Hello Amanda,
 I hate to tell you this, but at 15 months of age she is just starting her toddler stage. It's during the toddler period -- roughly 15 months to 3 years -- that children are trying out new behaviors, learning speech (and how to say No!), moving around better #and running away from you!#, and trying to master their impulses.
Your job as mother is to help her learn the rules (such as "No hitting or biting"). But, it's more than teaching her the rules. You will say a 100 (or a 1000 times) "No hitting" to her and while she will learn that you don't want her to hit, she won't have control over her impulses to be able to inhibit her actions when she gets the impulse to hit. That takes longer. In the meantime, you keep reminding her, giving her compliments when she does hold off on hitting, and occasionally giving her a short time-out for inappropriate behavior.
The good news is that by age three-and-a-half or four, she will look and act like a grown up young lady compared to now. It might even happen sooner if you're lucky. But it is very important that you remain calm and patient when she can't control herself. It takes a lot of effort on a parent's part to shepherd their children through the toddler years.
And remember that trying to reason or rationalize with her is fine, but, again, because she lacks controls over her behavior she won't be able to stop herself based on the rule or on what you want.
If you have other questions, please get back to me.
James Windell


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James Windell


I can answer questions related to normal child development, disturbed behavior and how to provide appropriate guidance and discipline.


I've been a clinical psychologist in a juvenile court, worked in school settings, been a child psychotherapist in a private psychiatric clinic and consulted with schools, courts, hospitals and daycare centers.

American Psychological Association
Michigan Psychological Association

I have been a columnist with the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) for 21 years writing a weekly column called Coping With Kids, which is also published weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been a mental health columnist with the Detroit Free Press and a columnist for Working Mother Magazine. In addition, I have published articles in professional journals. I have published 16 books, among them are "8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child" (IDG Books), "Discipline: A Sourcebook of 50 Failsafe Techniques for Parents" (IDG Books); "Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes" (IDG Books), "What You Need to Know About Ritalin" (Bantam Books) "6 Steps to an Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" (John Wiley & Sons), "The Fatherstyle Advantage" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) and "Defusing High Conflict Divorce" (Impact Publishers). My latest parenting book (2012) is "The Everything Child Psychology and Development Book." Articles about my work with parents has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. My website at includes more information about me, my books and includes many columns I've written.

B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University
M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University

Awards and Honors
Best Educational Program by Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association (National award for the development of a parent training program for parents of delinquent teenagers. Beth Clark Service Award from the Michigan Psychological Association.

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