My almost 2.5 year old DD has just started doing this. I watch a younger child part time and she has started hitting, pushing him over and kicking him without any instigation. She will walk up and just push him over, but not with anger or anything, just to see what happens I think. I usually give him a lot of loving attention when this happens and remind her that we use gentle touches and that it is not nice to kick, hit... people. If she repeats the behavior, which she almost always does immediately, I tell her that she is not being gentle and needs to play by herself for a bit while we play over here. She usually throws herself on the floor in tears when this happens and says she wants another try and isn't going to hit, kick... again. But, then comes back and repeats the behavior again. I ended up telling her that she would not be able to come back with me to play at his house again next time, which was not the right thing to tell her since I will more than likely not have a choice as to whether or not I bring her. I just didn't know what else to do, and couldn't risk her hurting him. That solution worked, but I don't want to use threats, and I certainly don't want to tell her something I can't follow through on.
I know this is normal toddler behavior, but I'm just not sure how to handle it. Any suggestions, please? TIA.
Not sure if it matters, but she is a very bright, possibly gifted, child.