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Help! My 23 month old won't stop kicking the dog!

post #1 of 3
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So my son is going to be 2 at the end of the month. I've been on board with peaceful parenting and gentle discipline but my son has been trying my patience since he was 18 months old. I thought it was teething frustration when he started hitting us and throwing things at us...but it has lasted almost 6 months. He learned how to kick from a little girl at the park a couple of weeks ago...now he is kicking our dog. She is a corgi mix so she is a smaller dog and I should also add that she has some health issues we are working with right now. We don't spank and I am not fond of the time out idea, although I have tried "If you do that again, I will put you in your high chair"...and I will put him in it for a minute or 2....guess that is kinda time out. I am at a loss...he is wild and I am exhausted. Now with him kicking the dog I just don't know how to handle it. I'm afraid he might use his new moves on kids when he gets the chance. The dog issue might be resolved because we are looking for a new home for her, he never leaves her alone.

But with no spanking or time-outs, how do I get it across to a 2 year old who isn't quite talking a whole lot yet that these things are not okay? His father is really rough when he plays with him and I think that's where a lot of this comes from. His father was also a bully in school and I do NOT want my son to follow in his footsteps in that respect. Not something I am proud to admit but oh well. I need some gentle discipline tips and help from anyone that has experienced this. Please, please tell me it's a phase! :(


post #2 of 3

If my 2 year old was kicking the dog, we would have to have some time outs. I make DD go to her room when she hits. I want her to know that I dont want to be around someone who is hitting me, and since she was the one who did it, she needs to go away for while. To me, that is a natural consequence. You hit= people dont want to be in your presence.

You hit the dog= dog doesnt want to be in your presence.  I'd put her on her bed and close the door. Its not the dog's fault that the kid is kicking. IMO, you cant get rid of or take away something every time a kid isnt treating it well. He is going to have to learn not to do it. Not just that if he kicks something, parents will get rid of it.


If it persisted Id find temporary home for the dog.

post #3 of 3

It sounds as though something is stressing your son. Do you think his father's behaviour while they're playing is distressing him? Or maybe something else could be acting as a trigger? Was he hurt by the little girl who kicked? (No need to answer these of course, they're just meant as food for thought).


I also wonder what made his father bully as a child, and why he's being overly rough with his child now.


Personally I wouldn't do time-outs as the isolation they enforce means that child is left by themselves to deal with strong, difficult emotions, rather than being helped to learn how to manage them. You might get some short-term improvement in behaviour if the child is scared enough by them, but there could be a long-term price to pay.


My daughter went through a brief phase of hitting us while she was angry. The approach I took, based on Aletha Solter's ideas, was to hold her in such a way that she couldn't hurt me and say calmly "I can see that you're feeling angry. I'm not going to let you hurt me and I'm going to stay with you and listen to you, and help you feel better". She would cry hard in my arms for a few minutes and then calm down and become much more relaxed.


The phase passed quickly, which isn't to say that it will definitely never happen again - something could stress her again, after all. But I think it's a good idea to to make too much of a drama of aggressive behaviour. It's better to just state what your standards are, empathise with the child, and if necessary, physically prevent them from doing whatever problematic thing they've been doing. A good cry in the company of a sympathetic parent can be very healing.

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