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violent talk from 2.5 year old

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi there,


Forgive me if this has been discussed before. I tried to search through the archives but couldn't find anything. We have two boys, our oldest being 2.5. He has gone through stages of hitting but doesn't act out violently unless he's very upset when he'll swat at one of us. He does chase the cat and do other things that seem to be intentionally harmful toward the cat like sitting on him but with his baby brother, he's usually very gentle.


However, lately he's been pretending things like sticks or his play cutlery are knives or swords and talking about "cutting" people. For example, when we talked about going to visit his grammie yesterday, he made a mean face and said he was going to take his play knife and "cut grammie." He'll also say he wants to bring his knife to cut kids on the playground. Last night, I was reading him a book about being friendly and when I got to the end, he said, "I'm not friendly. I'm a bad kid." We don't refer to kids as good or bad so I asked him if someone else called him that. He said no but then suggested that his great-grandma thinks he's bad. Well, he hardly sees her and I know she's never had the opportunity to say that to him.


Anyway, he seems to *want* to be a "bad kid" and whenever I tell him he's sweet and nice, he argues that he's bad and he's going to hit other kids, etc. We're glad he's not actually physically harming anyone at this point but we're starting to feel a little worried about his desire to cut other kids and identify as "bad." Is this a normal phase or something we should be concerned about?



post #2 of 5

DD loves a game where I chase her around the house telling her she's bad and pretend to be mad at her.  She is 2.5.... it seemed normal to me.  DP was also playing a game where he was the baby and knocked the cat food over.  Then she tells DP, "That's bad!  I am mad at you but I still love you.  You can't knock it over again til you're three."  


I think at this age they are just trying to figure out what bad means.


edit:  I had to run out but I wanted to come back and say.... a two year old has no idea what it means to hurt someone else.  They don't know that others don't perceive things the same as they do (they have no theory of the mind).  They can be very kind and loving but are really totally incapable of empathy in that they cannot put themselves in someone else's place and probably won't be able to until they are at least three or four. 


DD and I will have arguments where she will tell me I want juice, and I will say I don't and she will say, "No, you do!!!"  Because she wants juice she thinks I must too.  I am not sure it's developmentally possible for your son to know what it means to say, "I want to cut grammy."   All he knows is it get some kind of reaction.  Saying it again and again is appealing because he sees that reaction again and again, and he can observe and understand what the reaction is, what it means, what it means to say, "I want to cut grammy."


Now, I do play the "bad" game with DD, but it will be with stuff she is allowed to do.  So say she picks up my scissors and starts to run with them, maybe even announces, "I'm going to run with the scissors!"  I've already told her before I won't let her do that, so I will hop up and take the scissors away and then hand her the broom and say in a very exaggerated tone of voice, complete with wagging finger - all things I never do when actually disciplining her - "Now, don't you run with that broom.  That's bad!"  So she can then take off running, get the scolding that is so interesting to her, and she's still not running with scissors.  I agree with mamazee, there is probably a way you can turn it into a game but not necessarily have it be about cutting anyone or any other inappropriate activities.

Edited by cyclamen - 12/26/11 at 1:49pm
post #3 of 5

The other day my DD came home from her Kid's Day Out program at our church and told me that she wanted to hit and kick me. Then she told me to hit the other cars while I was driving. It was really obviously something she picked up at KDO. I sternly told her that we don't talk like that and she hasn't mentioned it since. Could he have picked it up from another kid?

post #4 of 5

I've read that sometimes kids act out aggressive feelings in creative play as a non-violent way of dealing with and working through those emotions. I'd let him do it if it's working for him, personally.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

cyclamen, thanks for the reminder about theory of mind. It's so hard to remember how young my older kid is because he's very verbal and has been for a long time. But you're right, he doesn't know what "cutting" a person means yet.


Alicewyf, He doesn't go to daycare or preschool currently, but he did start the cutting talk shortly after seeing Puss in Boots. Whoops.  


mamazee, that makes sense. Right now, he only talks about cutting Grammie and other kids at the playground. I can tell that he often feels sensitive around other kids on the playground so talking about cutting them when we're away from them is probably a way to feel empowered. He used to love Grammie but he suddenly started saying he didn't like her and refused to play with her last summer when we were in the process of moving. She lives many states away so we thought that the next time we'd see her, he'd probably be over it. Well, 3 months later, he still wanted nothing to do with her. We're totally stumped at the suddenness and seeming permanency of this change. Grammie is very loving but also very different from us in the way she tries to relate to him. Whenever he expresses negative feelings about her, we try to talk to him about it in a supportive way but we also let him know that being mean to Grammie is not acceptable. I can see how talking about cutting her is a different way for him to express his negative feelings toward her though. 


Parenthood is so humbling. Any tips on what to do when your child suddenly strongly dislikes his loving grandparent?

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