How to Get a Toddler to Stop Pinching

Your sweet toddler has suddenly become a surprisingly painful pincher. Whether he solely pinches you or everyone he encounters, it is a behavior that needs to stop. Don't worry, your boy is not a bad toddler, he is just trying to get attention. He is on the verge of understanding the concept of cause and effect. Gently teach him that his pinching will not be tolerated.

Introduce Pinchy

Buy a stuffed animal with pinchers, like a crab or lobster. Teach your son that crabs pinch, but little boys do not. Every time he pinches you, give him the stuffed crab and remind him that he is not a crab.

Be Consistent

You always tell him no in a firm but gentle manner after he pinches. However, if your spouse, his caregiver, grandparents or siblings are not reacting the same way, it is confusing to your toddler. If a parent disciplines after a pinch but siblings laugh or cry, that gives the toddler attention for his negative behavior. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the pinching. Agree on a plan and make sure every person reacts the same way after each incident.


Unclasp your toddler's hand every time he pinches you, while simply saying no, and gently put him down on the floor and look away. After a minute, pick him back up. Do this as many times in a row as necessary. Gradually, he will learn that his negative behavior does not generate any attention.

Demonstrate Nice Hands

After he pinches you, take his hand and rub it on the area he pinched. Tell him that pinching is not nice, but rubbing is nice. Rub his arm too and show him how loving and gentle that feels while you tell him that rubbing is good and nice.

Teach Empathy

Show your toddler that pinching hurts you. Gently move his hand away from your skin and show him the red mark. Make a sad face and tell him it hurts you. Tell him that he does not want to hurt anybody.

Deal With Frustration

Your child may be pinching due to his inability to communicate his feelings. Your non-verbal or verbally delayed child does not have the skills yet to express himself, and this can lead to frustration-fueled pinching. Teach him baby sign language for basic requests, simple moods and feelings. Alternately, pictures can be used for communication. Make a poster board with photos or pictures of simple moods or needs. Instruct your child to point to the picture that expresses his feelings when needed.

Talk To A Professional

If you think the pinching is your child's way of dealing with internal pain or sensory need issues, talk to your pediatrician.

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