Aggressive Two-Year-Old

Hi Judy, Firstly, I want to tell you that I LOVE your book. I refer to it all the time and I have recommended it to many other parents. I have been trying the advice from the book for this particular situation, however it is not improving and I am at a loss about what to do. My son Leo is 26 months old, very verbal and very bright. For the past 6 months he has been very aggressive with children who are smaller or younger than him. This aggression seems to increase when I am not giving him 100% of my attention. A couple of months ago we were at the park and I was speaking with another mom. My son kicked another little boy, I intervened, telling my son that we don’t kick people while I ensured that the little boy was alright. I removed us from the situation and we continued playing. Later, I began talking to the same mom and my son went up to the boy and grabbed his neck, it was awful! Then I was talking to a man and my son started chasing his son waving his arm to hit him. We talked about what he needed at that time and he said “me need mommy”, so I told him that if he feels like hitting he should ask me for help. For the next couple of months he would come to me saying he needed me instead of hitting. Which was great, but at the same time it seemed like I couldn’t even talk to other people because he would feel aggressive whenever I did! Just the other day we had friends over and my son tackled a 1 year old. We had a time out together, and when my son was ready to say sorry we returned, only to have him swipe again at the little boy. He gets a very angry look on his face just before these episodes, so I try my best to intervene before hitting occurs. The other mom said “he doesn’t know who is boss, you need to yell at him, my kids know who is boss” *sigh* I am a stay at home mom and my son is used to getting all of my attention. I think that might precipitate jealousy on his part. Also, my neighbours little girl (4 1/2 years old) used to always hit my son and her little sister, so I wonder if my son internalized that behaviour. We no longer spend time with them due to her aggression. I try to anticipate his aggressiveness, remove him from the situation, and have him say he is sorry when he is ready to go back…but things aren’t changing. What else can I do Judy??? Thank you so much, I appreciate any and all of your advice so much! Joie


My apologies if I have not answered this question. I’m having challenges with technology right now! Leo sounds like a normal little toddler. Aggression at this age is very age-appropriate and your action of telling him to come and get you when he needs you instead of hitting is bing on! Young children under 5 years of age need lots and lots of attention and they seem to “act up” when Mommy is busy talking or trying to do things. This need for you will lesson as he gets older, but it’s a true need right now and the more you meet it, the more independant he will become. By the teen years, the turn around happens – kids need us less and less and parents, in a misguided effort to connect, often nag their teens, just as toddlers try to get parental attention in socially disapproving ways. It’s great that you recognise his need to connect and try to meet it if you can. It’s also wonderful that you do the time-out together. He needs you more than ever to help him regain his self-control (of which toddlers have very little of anyways) and you are there for him. Remember to carve out some “me-time” for you so that you can meet his needs. Warmly, Judy Arnall



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