My Baby Got in a Church Brawl

For those of you who’ve been around this neck of the internet for a while know that I have been on the search for a church for…like…six years.  And I finally found one on Easter Sunday.  I loved it because it had a really big congregation and the minister gave uplifting sermons.  But I also loved it because their children program was huge.  So, two weeks ago, I noticed in the bulletin that they were having a Mothers and Babies Tea for mothers and babies born in 2009 and 2010.


This morning, I showered (an act of God itself) and I pulled Bean out of the dog’s water bowl and we headed up to the church for a morning of socialization with people other than relatives.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love socializing with family.  I moved across the country to socialize with family!  But sometimes you just need a little sanity, you know?

I got there and the minute I stepped into the room I knew I was going to love it.  First, there was food.  Second, there was a giant parachute spread out on the floor with baby toys thrown around and all the babies were playing in the middle of the parachute together.  It was great!  Bean Man kicked his shoes off and scooted on over to say hello to his new friends.

And I’m sitting there talking to other moms and we’re playing and I’m watching Bean and we’re playing and Bean’s throwing a ball and we’re playing and then all of a sudden…

Bean hit a baby.

In the face.

I didn’t really know what to do.  I mean, my 10-month-old son just hit a 6-month-old baby.  I don’t really know the etiquette for that situation.  So, I tell Bean “no” and I pull him away from the baby a little bit.

But, apparently that baby had a toy that Bean wanted because he immediately started crawling back over to her and before I could catch him, he whacked her again!  This time, the mother didn’t see.  But I did.  And I was so shocked!  Once again, I told Bean “no,” and I took him somewhere else so he would leave her alone.

Two more times Bean hit two other babies.  And each time, I felt like I needed to address the nation and apologize on behalf of my neanderthal baby.

Here’s the thing about the hitting.  It wasn’t so much that he hit those babies.  I mean, they’re all babies.  They’re all learning.  But what alarmed me more than anything was that as I watched him play so roughly with other babies, I noticed that he was playing with them the same way we play with him at home.  Really rough.  Lots of throwing things.  Lots of banging stuff.  I noticed that when he hit someone, he did it just like he does when he plays with Big Molly.  He wasn’t being mean, he just smacks stuff when he likes it.  Or when he wants it to move.  And I also noticed that he was hitting those babies in the face.  Just like he does with me.  It isn’t really a hit, but its a good solid pat.  Sometimes its a few good solid pats.

And at home, we don’t really do much about it.  He’s rough because he’s rolling around with Chris and the dogs.  He swats and hits things because he gets excited.  He pats your face (hard) because he likes you.

But when you’re out in public and he starts doing those things to other people, well, it just doesn’t look right and he’s going to have to stop.  I don’t think its anything to freak out about and I know he’s still pretty little so discipline now is more just creating habits instead of making a point.  But it was an eye opener for me.

So, no more hitting in our house – even if we’re just playing.  No more hitting the dogs or swatting at something he wants or doesn’t want.  No more “patting” Mommy’s face until it hurts.  I want Bean to grow up knowing that we have to be gentler with people.  And that should start at home.

And now, I will leave you with pictures of Bean eating watermelon this week.  They have nothing to do with this post.  I just wanted to remind everyone how cute he is so that if he whacks you in the face, you might be a little less offended.

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36 Thoughts to “My Baby Got in a Church Brawl”

  1. Meagan

    We had the same problem with Lucy when we would go to playgroup. I think it was a combo of being an only child and not being used to other babies. We immediatly did the same thing and stopped letting her “play” by slapping or hitting and let her know it wasnt’ right in any situation.
    It’s helped a lot and she still has a few relapses here and there, but it’s a huge improvement. Now, if only we could get the Grandparents on the same boat 🙂

  2. Jennifer

    We have cats in our home instead of dogs, so we’ve been teaching our little boy from day one to be soft with everything to protect them! Even so… when my son gets excited about whats going on he will sometimes start hitting. Perhaps it’s a natural energy release thing…

  3. I am really curious to know which church you attended, when I lived in Orlando I went to Summit and although I was in college I took note of their wonderful children’s program. I can’t seem to find anything close here in Seattle.

    and as for the Bean man- bad Bean, bad! 😛

  4. What a great post – I’ve never thought about this and it will come in handy when I have kiddos!

  5. Erin

    I feel your pain. We were having brunch with friends when their 8 month started screaming. I looked over to find my 8 month old trying to rip the other boy’s eye out. I was mortified. Sure it could have easily been the other way around. They are babies and learning. Still no one wants their kid to be the one inflicting pain in the process:) Ah boys…

  6. Oh, Beanie. Your love pats, it seems, are a bit too, well, full of love. Let’s work on hugging. How’s that? Trust me, it will get a better reception and the ladies will love you for it!

  7. When Ava was about Bean’s age I started making little comments to her regarding how she treated her “friends” meaning her stuffed animals and baby dolls. I praised her if she was being kind or gentle and pointed out how she was hurting them if she dropped them, making her say sorry and showing her how to console them and make them feel better. This really seemed to work, she has always been really gentle with her real friends.

    Now that she is over the age of two I tease her about it, if she does something mean or thoughtlessly dropping her baby or something I will say to her “What kind of mother are you? That is definitely bad parenting.” lol.

  8. Hmm.. I now have a tiny fear of babies.

    Please don’t hurt me babies.


  9. Kristy

    Haha…sorry for the laughter but I totally get where you are coming from! I have a 15 month old son and he “plays hard” as I like to call it (wasn’t that a Nike commerical or something). Anyway, he goes to daycare and now that he is in a room with older kids it is better – they keep him in check. Except a new behavior sprouted as a result – biting! Anyway, I keep telling him “No” but I think he believes that is just a sound mommy makes when she breathes because I say it all the time. Hopefully when he is a little older and understands more of what I say he will figure out what he needs to do or he will be grounded for life 🙂

  10. Sarah H.

    Oh no Katie! I can imagine how you felt…eek. But I think your stance is good. Their just babies, at least you realized why he was doing it.

  11. Heather in ND

    Yeah…. still SUPER CUTE!!!!!!!! 😀

  12. courtney

    I have a big problem with my two year old wrestling everyone. It’s not that he’s trying to hurt them, it’s just his way of saying “hi”. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks that’s a great way to say “hi”. I’m trying to break him of it. He just doesn’t do gentle. Then today at the doctor’s office today I was told he might have mono so to have him “tone it down” a bit. Seriously!?! Just know you’re not alone.

  13. Emily

    It’s so funny how one day his hair looks dark brown and the next day it looks red!

  14. Ashley

    Agreeing with Heather, still very cute and adorable….

  15. Beth

    you have many more of these eye opening moments coming your way, TRUST ME!

  16. Diana

    I think it’s probably the right thing to do to stop the “hit playing” at home and if it happens again that Bean hits someone I would take him back to the person/child and take his hand and touch the person/child gently and say, “Gentle, we are gentle with people”. Also, when Bean “pats” your face a little too hard take his hand and do the same thing telling him to be gentle with mommy. I think this will just help him know that it’s okay to touch people but we have to do it in a soft, kind way. Just my two cents.

    1. Katie

      That is a great idea, Diana. I’ll have to start using that.

      1. Sharilyn

        Glad someone mentioned this. It’s pretty much exactly how we taught our kids this concept. Only the target was our cat with the goal of ‘scratch prevention.’ But it really helped to teach them how to be gentle which was transferable in a multitude of ways.

  17. You’re doing the right thing Katie, don’t worry about it:o)

  18. deepa

    We are using a book called Baby411 which has a whole chapter on discipline, which they say you should start at 9 months. While every baby is so different, they make some good points; worth checking out.

  19. Ginny

    Is this like the time you were going to stop Bean from using his pacifer?? 🙂

    1. Katie

      How many kids do you have again?

      (P.S. This is my sister, so I’m allowed to talk to her like this.)

  20. Cindy In Owensboro, KY

    I definitely know how you feel. I work part time but happened to have 12 days off in a row. Then when my 18 month old went back to the babysitter on Wednesday she did something very naughty. She bite 2 other kids. One of them was a baby boy who is younger than her and can’t even walk yet, she wanted his toy and so stepped on him and bite his arm. The other one is a little girl that is about a year older and was messing with her while she was eating and so she bite her on the face. I was mortified. I spoke to the grandma of the little boy and the father of the little girl and they both indicated that it was no big deal, that they are sure that their little one had something to do with the altercation. I just don’t want my little girl to be a bully.
    This post came at just the right time for me since I was wondering how other parents feel when their children do this. We just need to use this as a teaching moment to our little ones!

  21. Becky A

    Katie — I’m an old mom (and I do mean old). When my son was about three, I took him to a local fast food restaurant and while we were there he proceeded to smack another small boy who righteously smacked him back. I, like you, was mortified that my darling boy would do such an awful thing. How could I have failed him at such a young age!!

    When he was a little older and far beyond the “he’s just learning stage” he threatened to beat up a kid who was teasing him. And so it goes. Our son was of course properly disciplined and afterwards I grabbed a few sips from the nearest wine bottle

    Here’s the point of all this senile rambling, my son is now 23 and is finishing college. As far as I know, he has not maimed, mutilated or stamped the heck out of anyone. So know that after all the angst of parenthood and all the embarrassment, Bean will be just fine while you as his parent may require years of intensive psychotherapy. Enjoy the journey. It is all too short!

  22. As Diana said, positive reinforcement is key. My mother (who runs a preschool and has all sorts of early childhood education) reminds me often of this, because kids don’t hear the “no” or “don’t” part of a command. So instead of saying “Don’t run” (because kids hear “RUN”), we say “Let’s use our walking feet.” Things like, “Let’s use our indoor voice” – because outdoor voices and running feet are sometimes okay, just not now. My daughter is 3 weeks older than Beanie and we have begun to run into this (the hard patting, etc) and I try to remind her to use her gentle hands. We also use gentle hands when petting the kitty and dogs. This way we’re not always saying “NO!” to everything she does. 🙂

  23. Bonnie B.

    Katie, I’m so impressed that you recognized why he was doing this! Good job! And I agree with the others that you stop the behavior while using your ‘stern’ voice, and then show them the proper behavior with your ‘sweet’ voice. Don’t expect perfection, but you’ll see success soon. And praise him to high heaven when he shows the good behavior you want from him.

    And cut yourself some slack – every mom has gone through this. Trust me.

  24. Someone else probably already said this, but when each one of my kids was little and they got into the banging/smacking phase (on our face or even furniture) we would take their hands and softly stroke them, and then put their hands gently on whatever it was they had been beating up, and say,”Gentle,” in a very gentle voice. This works well…you would be surprised at how a very young baby can get this idea. We also would say things like,”Sweet,” but I think gentle is the best word to use. Eliana is two now and I still remind her using the word, and now she’s just ornery so she will disobey. But…when they’re really little they are even better listeners! Ironic, but true.

  25. Aidan is similar when he gets excited but for the past 2 months or so I’ve been saying “Gentle, mummy likes it when you touch gently”. The whole positive reinforcement thing. He’s rougher with Steve but since Steve noticed Aidan’s become gentler with me he’s doing the same thing now and I think he gets it. Basically the same as what “Christine” said.

    I think its great you’ve joined a mothers group. I ADORE mine and I think that since Aidan is growing up with kids around his age he’s learning social etiquette. Also not only was it your first time but his too, maybe he got frustrated because he’s not used to sharing and being in the different environment?

    Enjoy group and the cutest bean in the world

  26. allison

    Bean is my favorite age, but babies at his age are exploring and part of that is touching others. When I worked at a daycare, this behavior was quite common! We would just take their hand and show them how to be gentle while talking to them. Saying no is ineffective and it’s better to say something like, “Let’s be gentle with our friends.” I’m sure other people mentioned this, but I just wanted to reassure you that it definitely works!!! =) And Bean is adorable!

  27. What a cutie! I’m glad you realize that he doesn’t know any better, but it’s also great to see you reflect on how habits at home affect his relationships with others. He’ll learn! In the meantime, he is just so adorable that even if he hit me in the face I’d still think he was cute!

  28. Dawn

    Commenting as I wipe the tears from my face from laughing so hard. And after reading this aloud to my husband. Laughing so hard because that was my daughter!! And I was thinking kind of the same things…. “what do I do” “how do I respond” but also with a little bit of relief that this time it wasn’t Little C being “rough” – this time she was on the receiving end…. (Was it right to feel some relief?)

  29. Erin

    I have worked with kids for over 15 years and the “gentle” touch method really does work. I have found though that sometimes a firm “no” is needed sometimes. But should only be used spareingly as to avoid the the child getting desensitized to it.

    How nice it must be to have a blog where you can get other peoples ideas on specific expierinces and challenges you come across! Bean is so adorable!

  30. Nicole

    All Bean needs now is the “Thug Life” tats on his knuckles.

  31. Is it bad that I think this is funny?!

  32. So glad you posted this because I just got some good advice from the comments!

    I’m not even gonna go there with the patting…Q-Tip hits. She does it when she’s mad. And it makes mama mad. But mama just breathes…picks her up…tells her she can’t hit mommy and slaps her down on the “naughty spot”. Of course she doesn’t stay there but it removes her from the situation.

    I feel like I’m doing something wrong though cause it doesn’t seem to be working. Or else she’s just stubborn…which given her daddy and I’s DNA I can’t imagine! HA.

    So I’m going to now thoroughly confuse my poor child and try with the “touch gently” thing. Although she’s doing it when she’s mad so I don’t know how well it will work either. We’ll see I guess!

    Don’t ya just love the parental guessing game?! It’s my fav!



  33. I just wanted to say that he is getting cuter everyday.. I love reading your blog, My internet provider is horrible and sometimes I don’t have access and cannot visit your site that’s why I’m kinda late for this one.. God Bless you

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