Dear Grandma,

I have a 23 month old boy and has a pinching problem. I don’t understand it at all. He pinches ourchild-192713_640 faces mostly. He does it when he is happy or sad, many times a day. We have tried everything we can think of: Saying no firmly, pushing his hand away, putting him down, making him apologize, and even out of frustration, pinching back ( I know you will say that is bad)! He will occasionally pinch at day care, but mostly his pinching is reserved for his parents and his sister.

Any suggestions or advice is welcome.
Thank you.


Dear Kimberly,

At 23 months, he is just barely able to understand discipline. The most important part, at his age, is consistency. The best response is to catch it immediately and that means always being alert when you pick him up or he is near you and especially near his sister. When those little hands begin to gather folds of skin the response should always be a firm “NO” as you remove his hand, covering it with your hand and putting him down. Especially watch him near his sister to make sure she is not hurt by him. A hard and consistent job, I know, but that’s what parenting is. I think it is not meant to hurt, but more like a love pinch when he is excited to be with you. However it cannot continue as any behavior that makes your child unwelcome socially, must be nipped in the bud.

Good luck (from a former biter),

Old woman smiling

Peggy Moss (she/her), AKA "Grandma Maggie," was was a partner in after she retired as an early childhood educator. Her Q&A column "Ask Grandma Maggie" is now republished with the best of Grandma Maggie’s parenting and childcare advice. She has written many eBooks about parenting issues, available at

Peggy, who passed in 2014, was mother to Sue, Kate, Jennifer, and Mallory Moss, and grandmother to Ike, Peter, Miranda, and Veronica.