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Agressive 2 year old boy
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Agressive 2 year old boy

I have a 2.5 year old son who is extremely agressive.  He has always been strong willed, rough when he plays and loud.  At first my husband and I thought it was just part of being a boy, as our other 2 children are girls.  Recently his agressiveness is getting much worse.  Not only does he take things from other children he will strike out all of the sudden, even when not provoked.  He has been scratching his older sisters (5 & 7) to the point of drawing blood.  He will say he is sorry, but then will turn around and do it again.  He talks back terribly, yells at us (his parents).  We have tried timeout but he just screams and kicks, or he will stay in time out and then when it is over he will go and do the same thing.  We now put him in his room for some alone time, and he will yell for a few seconds, throw some things, and then settle down and plays for awile.  We are confused and don't understand where all of his hostility comes from.  His 2 older sisters are not like this at all.  I am a stay at home mom, and spend a lot of quality time with him.  He is very sweet and loving at times giving hugs and kisses, and then all of the sudden out of no where he is hitting, or going after some one.  We just don't know what else to do or try.  Help!!!!!
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Dear Ms. Carlson,

It may seem like your son's aggression comes out of nowhere, but you can discern the pattern to his behavior. It's likely that he has his wishes frustrated, is flooded with anger when this occurs and then acts out the anger with physical aggression.

If using his room for a time out space works for him, continue to do it. Normally we recommend using a chair for such a young child (and reserving going to their room for older children - e.g., nine- or ten-year-olds). But you have to follow your instincts about this: if the room is effective, continue to do it.

Setting firm limits around physical aggessio is the right thing to do. He should get the message, via your response, that there will be no tolerance for aggression. Over time, his capacity to modulate his anger and control his aggressive impulses and beeter tolerate frustration will improve. It's one of the challenges of the pre-school child.
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I am a daycare provider and have the problem of a 2yr old boy who is constantly hitting or pushing children that are his age or younger.  Time outs have been used and we let him know that we will not let him hurt others, but this does not seem to work! We are getting frustrated as we are trying to get him to use his words, but he still does this.  Usually no one does anything to him, he just walks over and hits them.  What can we try to do differently to help our situation?
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As the mother of two and a half year old twin boys, I can understand what both of your issues are.  I have one twin who is used to be very agressive, and now has turned quite passive just in the last month or so.  I am not sure if it was just a phase, or if it was some things I tried to do  to stop it.  I can tell you, that because of his VERY independent behavior, he seemed to test limits a lot.  He wanted to know what he could do to push our buttons and when he could get away with certain things.  He wanted to know how hard he could hit us and how hard he could grab us before he would get a time out.  He also seemed to like the negative attention.  

I tried a few things that may have worked.  I stopped doing time outs unless someone got hurt.  Otherwise, with every hit or slap, he would have been in time-out all day.  Time-outs don't teach anything - parents and caregivers do.  Not doing time outs each time taught him that first of all, he wasn't going to get so much attention when he did something bad.  It also taught him that time-outs MEAN something.  Otherwise, they seemed to lose meaning to him when he got 4-5 each day.  I made sure to look him in the face when I told him that what he did was not okay - so he could see my anger.  I did not remove the victim from the scene, I sat down right where the incident happened and did the discriplining.

In addition, I started giving him more attention when he was a good boy.  He seemed to act up when he was ignored or playing on his own.  I would use a lot of diversion in his play when I would anticipate a problem coming.  Also, I quit telling him what NOT to do and telling him WHAT I expected of him and gave him fun ideas of thing TO DO.  I also found that it helped to talk about what was going to happen in advance throughout the day as spontanaity seemed to make him act up.  For example, instead of saying, don't hit or grab me, I would take his hand and put it on my cheek and say, "be nice to your mom."  Also, as silly as this seems, when he came to grab me or hit me, I would tickle him in the tummy.  He quickly turned his anger into laughs.

Good luck.  I will tell you, that something we did worked.  I don't know what but I am very glad!

Julie

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