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3 year old boy aggressive to younger kids

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Help! My 3 year old DS is really rough with younger children. At the playground, the zoo, where ever we go he goes up to 1 and 2 year olds and hugs them over and over and ends up knocking them down. He also pushes them down on purpose sometimes and the other day he bit a littler girl for no reason. I've talked to him so many times about being gentle and mouse hugs instead of bear hugs and asking before hugging and backing off when kids pull away because they can't talk, but he doesn't seem to be getting it and I don't understand why he is doing it. He has a 5 month old baby sister who he is really loving and affectionate with, but I can't put her down around him because he is so active and ends up hurting her, and he is not at all aggressive with kids his own age, he is very verbal and has great social skills and is very sensitive to other people being hurt. A little girl got knocked down by her big brother on the swing and my son went over and really gently hugged her and rubbed her face and kissed her and was so concerned about her he talked about it all day, but also said he wanted to be the big brother and knock her down, that he was curious how he hurt her. How can I help him learn to be gentle and respectful to younger children? It's getting so I don't want to take him anywhere because I am following him around scared to death he's going to hurt a little kid.
post #2 of 9
I had the same problem last summer with dd who was 3 and a half at that time. I explained over and over to her that I would never accept such a behavior, but it didn't work too well.
I ended up just leaving the park, playground, pool,... whenever she would do that, after apologyzing to the kid (even if really young) and the parent, and told her that was going to happen every time she would hurt someone. That did the trick! I also tried not to give her lots of attention when it happened: attention goes to the hurt kid. Tell him once why you are leaving, then do not talk about it anymore. (but do try to teach him, when calm, other ways to show his anger)
The hard thing is to leave every time it happens, even if you had great plans for that day, even if it bothers you as much as it bothers your son.
Also, even if he says he's sorry (wich my daughter had to say), leave anyway. At the beginning, she would scream, cry, fight, almost vomit, not to leave, but when she saw that wouldn't make me change my mind, she stopped (after 2 or 3 times).
Hope this helps.
Stay confident, it will pass if you are determined not to let it continue. If it does however continue for longer than what you can take it, don't be affraid to look for help. I had the chance of having my sister, who's a ped. and who gave me some advices she had collecter from other parents, peds, and books.
Good luck!
post #3 of 9
I would second the leave after normally apologizing. Don't over-react just say BRIEFLY we're going to say soorry and then go home because its not ok to hurt other people. Don't preach or dwell on it or use a punitive voice--just a serious one.

One of dd's friends did this all the time and her mom would ramble on and on about why it wasn't nice etc etc. but then a few minutes later it would happen again. Lots of the hugging till knocking over type thing. It wasn't hugging any more it was wwf moves! I got so ticked off so the next time It happened I just said ok dd we're going nowbecause friend is being too rough and left. It worked quite well.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
thanks for your suggestions! I've been doing the leaving thing too and it is hard because I have 5 month old dd in the sling so it's hard to carry him out when he gets upset about leaving, but I guess consistency is the best way for him to learn. I've also been role playing with him - which he loves - where we pretend he's the bigger kid and I'm the little kid, and vice versa- and we have to read body language and facial expressions as we approaches eachother and enter personal space. I think part of it is that he gets confused because he wants to be friendly and play with the little kids and he doesn't understand why they can't talk and respond like him, so then he feels frustrated when they don't talk to him and the hug turns into "wwf moves." He seems to be understanding a little more and yesterday we were at a store and he went over to a little girl and asked her if he could hug her and first she backed off and so did he, then she smiled and they hugged eachother and played and danced and sang together the whole time I shopped and he felt great about himself for the rest of the day!
post #5 of 9
Isn't it funny how once you post about a concern it always seems to start improving on its own? (It always seems to happen to me anyways.) It sounds like you had a really good day yesterday. You prolly did this...but remember to back it up with positive reinforcement.

I've been getting good behavior modification with pos. reinforcement. Especially when I brag about what she did while I'm chatting to a friend (within earshot of the one with superhearing powers ahem) I'll see her across the way beaming.
post #6 of 9


I'm totally with those who suggested leaving the situation. It does work so well. I have found I only needed to do it twice before things settled down. I'm glad to hear things are improving. Consistency prevails!
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
mamaui - I agree that it is so weird that once you post something, the problem seems to improve. I can't tell you how many times it's happened to me . I don't know if maybe typing out the problem clarifies it and telling it to the board is like offering it up to the universe to help you, and part of your unconscious mind deals with the situation, but I'm glad to hear you have the same experience! My little one also has superhuman hearing - it's amazing - I'll have to remember to brag about him while he's "not supposed" to be listening. Thanks again everyone for your input!
post #8 of 9
Do you all recommend leaving the situation completely (playground, etc), or sitting out for a few minutes? We're having this problem with my almost 3-yo.
post #9 of 9
Originally posted by mamaley
Do you all recommend leaving the situation completely (playground, etc), or sitting out for a few minutes? We're having this problem with my almost 3-yo.
I tried the "time off" approach (sitting on a bench) but dd would become very upset and I'd have to maintain her on the bench or she would escape. It was almost impossible to make her calm down that way (and having an audience made dd scream more), and she after the "time off", she was (I think) ashamed of herself and that made her behave badly again... so I prefered leaving completely without making a big fuss about it. So I guess it depends on your child, but leaving completely is IMO more effective and easier.
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