What Can I Do About My Pushy 2-Year-Old?

Jan Faull, MEd, on how to stop toddlers' aggressive behaviors.

Preventive Measures

Q. I have two sons -- a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. My 2-year-old is pushy and obnoxious. He beats up on his older brother, hits adults, and runs away laughing. What am I supposed to do? I am a single mother who works full time while my mother takes care of my boys. Does that have something to do with his terrible attitude?

A. Many toddlers exhibit aggressive behavior in the form of hitting, kicking, pushing, and throwing objects. Realize that children between the ages of 18 months and 2 1/2 are on the go with no inner controls -- you and his grandmother must provide the control he lacks. Your older child can even learn to protect himself by putting up his arms to block a hit or push.

That being said, it's your job to protect the older one and consistently be available to step in and stop a hit or push if Big Brother can't ward off the attacking toddler himself.

If you can sense when little brother is about to hit or push, you can divert his aggression with another physical activity such as swinging, running, climbing, and jumping. Playing in water, sand, mud, or with play clay sometimes quiets a toddler's aggressive ways.

Another option (if your older child is willing) is to stage a daily timed and controlled wrestling match between the two with you as referee. By providing these options, little brother puts his natural tendency toward aggression in activities that are safe and not hurtful.

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