My toddler thinks it’s fun to push other kids.

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Completely unprovoked, and with an expressionless gaze, she walks up to her victim, plants her palms on his tummy, and pushes him to the ground. It happens at the park, it happens at play dates, it happens at the pool, it happens everywhere.
When she pushes, I firmly tell her, “NO” and then I scoop her up, remove her from the situation and find a quiet corner to remind her, “No. We don’t push our friends. Are you ready to be nice?” She hangs her head down and tries to look away, then we head back into things and usually within three seconds she’s pushed someone again.
SO FUN.
I always discipline her, sometimes even giving her a spank on her bottom (but that’s a post for another day), and yet she keeps on pushing. I praise her when she is gentle or shows love, like giving a little friend a hug. She knows that pushing is bad, but she keeps on doing it. Kind of like how I know that donuts give me a fat rump but I keep on eating them. Mmmm. Donuts.
This being my third kid, I am more annoyed than concerned. When my eldest was her age she went through a chest-bumping phase where she’d walk up to a kid and then chest-bump them to the ground, just for the fun of it (FYI: this was never modeled to her). I was so worried she was going to grow up to become a psycho, and I felt so bad about her behaviour and didn’t know how to fix it. Now I know that it just seems to be in my kids’ blood to be an aggressive little turd for a while, then grow up into a nice person. I just have to be consistent and continue not to tolerate the pushing, and she’ll get it eventually.
Still, in that moment, when it’s my kid beating up someone else’s, it kind of sucks to be me.
Did your kids ever go through an aggressive stage? Did you feel judged by other parents? How did you deal with it? 
  • Jen

    Been there. Now that my kids are older and I see the whole picture and understand their “wonderfulness”, I can also put any weirdness in context. For example, my nearly 13 y/o son gets REALLY hyper and, although annoying, it can be hilarious. I am sure others sometimes think he is a crazy.
    My daughter cried her HEART OUT when her hockey team lost in the finals (double overtime to a shoot-out…yah) and I know there were some judgy parents all like “what a poor sport” but she is very invested and emotional. She had her meltdown and moved on.
    I found toddlerhood a puzzle because you have no context yet for their behaviour. I do weird things but my family knows and loves me so they “get it”. I think at that age we are still figuring them out.
    Or, maybe she is just angry about her haircut ;)

  • Sara

    My guy was the biter…and I felt SO embarrassed by it. Even though the teachers don’t tell who the biter is – the kids do. I would ask Will who he bit and go apologize the next day. The majority of the parents were all – ‘don’t worry’ but some looked pissed. Now he is the ‘biting is for food and not friends’ king. Sounds like you’re handling it perfectly – I’m trying to picture that angel being the pusher!

  • Kim

    Forms of expression and pushing boundaries (no pun intended lol) are kids jobs. I think being a younger kid they are exposed to things you really aren’t aware of in both positive and negative ways.
    HATEd when it was my child, it happens. :) Honestly I would tell her no pushing BEFORE you go to your next outing where there may be other children. Tell her ahead of time what the consequences are, which now that she’s done it more than once and “knows” it’s wrong you leave. Not just remove her from situation you tell her you will leave the park, the play date etc… and then actually LEAVE. Tell her why you are leaving , her behaviour is unacceptable and that you are unhappy to be leaving but you told her that there would be no more pushing. It may not be fun for you (if it’s a coffee at the park with another mom, or you have to leave in the middle of swim time) and she won’t like it but she’ll get the message quickly. Saying no is a GOOD thing and the follow through with stern consequences actually help her learn that you mean business.

  • mrswilson

    Um, yea, have you met Liliana? She is very aggressive and I cannot get her to stop. To be gentle. Time-outs don’t work, spanks don’t work, explaining how to be gentle doesn’t work, modeling it for her doesn’t work, beatings do not work. (Kidding on that last one, although some days I swear she deserves it.) It’s hard when everyone knows you kid’s name, and not for a good reason.
    So, what I’m trying to say is I have no advice for you. I hope it is just a short-lived phase.

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