What do you do when you have "that" kid? - Mothering Forums
Life with a Toddler > What do you do when you have "that" kid?
konayossie's Avatar konayossie 02:24 PM 06-30-2011
You know, the wild one who runs around like a burning man and is overly aggressive?

DS is just over 2, and he is wild. I'm home with him for the summer, and being pregnant and with temps well into the 90s by 10 am, I went looking for indoor solutions to his energy needs. After a trial class, I signed up for Gymboree, and DS loves it. The structures are a breeze for him physically but he gets to run amok to his hearts content and be around other kids, which he loves. HOWEVER, he turns into "that" kid when we're there: the one who doesn't want to share, swipes toys from other kids and makes his dragon noises at them when they try to pass him on the equipment, and he can get downright aggressive. This week he pushed a little boy off the top stair of a 3 step structure (all padded and grandparents caught him, thank goodness, so no bumps or bruises)! I was mortified and am sort of at a loss to know what to do. In that situation, I removed him completely for a few mins and then asked him to apologize to the boy. The kids could care less about that but I know the parents appreciate the apology.

He doesn't act this aggressively at home so I'm not sure how to work on it without being in a public situation.

I've thought about asking if he could move to the next age level at Gym., as the older kids would be more in sync with his physical development (he's tiny, tiny for his age but super strong, balanced, and agile).

We have also had this problem on the outdoor playground but to a much lesser extent since it's easier to move him away from other children if necessary.

Any experienced parents of wild children care to weigh in?

newmamalizzy's Avatar newmamalizzy 04:32 PM 06-30-2011

I don't have "that" kid (at least not yet!).  I did want to share, though, that there is similarly aggressive little girl who regularly attends DD's playgroup, and it has gotten very difficult for me to continue taking DD there because of it.  I'm fond of both the girl and her mother, so it's hard for me to bring it up, but I hate to see how my daughter's light dims when Alissa is around.  She gets all nervous and reserved in a way that's very unlike her.  I believe that babies should work out a lot of their "playground battles" on their own, but habitual aggression like what you're describing really does, in my opinion, need parental intervention.  I've been considering what I would do if I was the parent, particularly a parent who's in favor of positive, gentle discipline.  I think you need to intervene in some way every single time you see your child being aggressive so he learns that shoving, hitting, etc. are absolutely never okay.  Maybe try treating it the way you treat other "absolute" discipline issues, like going into the road or touching electrical outlets?


carmel23's Avatar carmel23 04:34 PM 06-30-2011

I thinking asking to move him up in age is a good idea, and try to play with bigger kids. I'm not a huge fan of same aged kids playing together through toddlerhood, I think it helps to have an older child who won't tolerate being pushed, etc.

 

The more exposure he has to other kids, the better he will be, yk?  A lot of that is just trial and error...


carmel23's Avatar carmel23 04:38 PM 06-30-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by newmamalizzy View Post

  I think you need to intervene in some way every single time you see your child being aggressive so he learns that shoving, hitting, etc. are absolutely never okay.  Maybe try treating it the way you treat other "absolute" discipline issues, like going into the road or touching electrical outlets?



I completely agree with this.  You have to follow him around at the playground and basically stop him every time he tries to push, hit, etc .  And tell him if he pushes/hits one more time you'll have to leave.  If it does happen, leave right then--without any drama, etc.  Just say, we cannot be here if we hit/push and go.  Zero tolerance is the way to go. 

 

And try to spend a lot of time at playgrounds and stuff that are free, so you don't feel like you lost $ when you leave, or aren't tempted to stay even though he hit/pushed.  I think after 3 times of leaving, he should start to get that he can't hit.

 

There is a great book called "hands are not for hitting," and it is very positive, and tells the child what hands *are* for, but they are not for hitting...

 

And don't worry almost all kids go through this phase... whether it is now or when they're older...


konayossie's Avatar konayossie 05:20 PM 06-30-2011

Sorry, I was unclear--I DO follow DS around, especially at Gymoboree, as they have an "parent in arm's reach" rule, and intervene whenever he is doing any of these behaviors. I was *right there* when he pushed the little boy off the stairs and still managed to not catch it--eek!

 

I will try doing the completely removing him next time after a single warning and see if that helps after a time or two.

 

One thing I've noticed is that the other toddlers are doing the same type of things, they just aren't as over-the-top about it and generally simply focused on hanging on/climbing/etc when they aren't on the ground, which is where DS gets the most pushy (on the equipment). That was part of my thinking of why he might be better off in the older class, since he'd be with others who were more physically able and would be able to do the "work it out themselves" kind of thing... I do think I'll ask the instructor about it next time we're there...


sky_and_lavender's Avatar sky_and_lavender 08:10 PM 06-30-2011

If my daughter had an uncharacteristically aggressive reaction in a specific environment every single time, I think I would it attribute it to her being overwhelmed and overstimulated in that environment.

 

Even if she liked the environment, I would look at ways to either make it a less busy and stimulating environment, or, most likely in the case of a kid's class, remove her from that environment and give her more time to mature and grow into it. I know you're struggling to find suitable activities for your son. Maybe this isn't quite as good for him as it seems like it should be!

 

There's a book called Simplicity Parenting that helps to explain why this could make sense.

 


NZJMama's Avatar NZJMama 06:57 AM 07-01-2011

My first thought when I read your post is that he is over-stimulated. It sounds like he needs the physical activity, but maybe having so many kids in a small space over-stimulates him and he acts out. Since he can't say, "hey Mom, there's too much going on for me, I need to leave", he becomes aggressive. I would try a warning at the first sign of aggressive behavior and if he does it again (which he will) just pick up and leave.  Around that age my 6yo would run from me when he was ready to leave a place.It drove me nuts becasue I would put him in the stroller and leave and he would throw a world class tantrum, but he almost seemed relieved when we got back to the car. Not sure if this is what's going on in your case, but it is worth considering. Good luck.


anjsmama's Avatar anjsmama 01:17 PM 07-01-2011


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post





I completely agree with this.  You have to follow him around at the playground and basically stop him every time he tries to push, hit, etc .  And tell him if he pushes/hits one more time you'll have to leave.  If it does happen, leave right then--without any drama, etc.  Just say, we cannot be here if we hit/push and go.  Zero tolerance is the way to go. 

 

And try to spend a lot of time at playgrounds and stuff that are free, so you don't feel like you lost $ when you leave, or aren't tempted to stay even though he hit/pushed.  I think after 3 times of leaving, he should start to get that he can't hit.

 

There is a great book called "hands are not for hitting," and it is very positive, and tells the child what hands *are* for, but they are not for hitting...

 

And don't worry almost all kids go through this phase... whether it is now or when they're older...



My DS has a similar temperment to your description (though older - 34 months now), and has done VERY WELL with "Hands are Not for Hitting". He can pretty much recite the book cover to cover. I checked it out from the library when we first moved & he was really having some aggression issues and they started to surface at the playground and with DD. Anytime he gets upset now, I can hear him mumbling... "Hands are for eat, drink. Hands are for keep safe. Hands are for not hit!" We haven't had any hitting in a month or more.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NZJMama View Post

My first thought when I read your post is that he is over-stimulated. It sounds like he needs the physical activity, but maybe having so many kids in a small space over-stimulates him and he acts out. Since he can't say, "hey Mom, there's too much going on for me, I need to leave", he becomes aggressive. I would try a warning at the first sign of aggressive behavior and if he does it again (which he will) just pick up and leave.  Around that age my 6yo would run from me when he was ready to leave a place.It drove me nuts becasue I would put him in the stroller and leave and he would throw a world class tantrum, but he almost seemed relieved when we got back to the car. Not sure if this is what's going on in your case, but it is worth considering. Good luck.



I second this. My DS's  physical activity needs are SO insane... it seems to me he could literally run, bounce off the walls, and do backflips, without eating or sleeping until I stop him. Because of this, we used to let him out into our yard to play (fenced) at free will. When we moved to an apartment, I started taking him to a park, playground, gymboree, swimming or SOMETHING nearly daily to help him get it out.... I failed to think that ALL that activity might be just a bit too much. We try to do our activities 2 hours or less at a time, and I try to space them... Inside day, playground day, play outside but just in grass field day, library day.. etc. He does much better that way. Also, I think the picking up and leaving is important. After 2 years old, they start to know what they want and whether you mean what you say. If you tell him, "No pushing, or we're leaving", and he pushes - you have to leave. I hated this part, but we only had to leave somewhere twice before he stopped.

 

 

In addition to all that... Yes, I think the older group is probably a great idea if possible. DS is just shy of 3 and I routinely take him to a playground  designed for children ages 4-10. It works out extremely well because they play faster, do more climbing and jumping and madness and DS fits in better with that. The timidness of younger children makes him nervous and makes him do crazy things. It's also fun because the other kids recognize that he's younger/smaller and immediately begin teaching him things. Pretty cool to watch. Good luck mama!

 

 

 


tillymonster's Avatar tillymonster 01:35 AM 07-03-2011
I love this thread. My nephew is so like these kids I'm reading about here. He just turned 3. I am going to share these ideas with my sister and see if they help her with her insanely active kid. My DD at 18mo is so the opposite but she's been getting more aggressive and it's obviously in the gene pool. wink1.gif She was pushed and chased by my nephew when they came to visit and it made me so sad to see DD cower away from her cousin. Made me very uncomfortable and I then started to question my sisters' discipline when really, it could just be the age and over stimulation. Again, so glad I read this!
konayossie's Avatar konayossie 02:40 PM 07-03-2011

The quoted portion below is so cute!

 

Thanks for your ideas, ladies. I think those of you suggesting he's overstimulated are right. The days that he has been most aggressive at Gymboree are when there have been a crazy # of people in the relatively small space (like upwards of 15 kids with their attendant adult(s)). We went back on Friday, which is at an earlier time of the day and so there were fewer kids, and we had no problems at all. There were also several older siblings in attendance, and he had a fun time interacting with them. So, I think the overcrowding/overstimulation may be playing into things for sure. I think I'm going to try skipping at least the most crowded sessions and see if that helps.

 

Also, this weekend, we were with a big group of extended family, and he had a great time playing with his cousins, who were in the 4-year-old range. Again, in terms of physical abilities, they are much more similar to him than other toddlers....After watching him with those kids, though, I'm not sure just moving up to the next class (it just goes from 28-36 mos) would help that much, but I still may check into it if cutting back on the sessions we're attending doesn't work.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by anjsmama View Post

Anytime he gets upset now, I can hear him mumbling... "Hands are for eat, drink. Hands are for keep safe. Hands are for not hit!" We haven't had any hitting in a month or more.


LadyCatherine185's Avatar LadyCatherine185 06:36 PM 07-03-2011

My DS1 is very similar, though he is actually big for his age, and very verbal for his age.. he does really really well with older kids and almost never shows aggressive behavior around them. If he gets around a younger/shyer kid, he will act aggressively. I have done like PP's suggested and corrected the behavior each time.. but it got EXHAUSTING.. so we avoided situations where he would be around younger kids for awhile. Thankfully, he has mostly outgrown the aggressiveness.. he still has that "personality" trait, but he is much better about controlling it and being "nice." Whenever we go to a playgroup, or are going to be around other kids, we talk a lot about being nice, sweet, gentle, sharing, no hitting, etc etc. and that really seems to help.

 

I would really work on it a LOT before your new baby comes.. we have had issues with DS1 being aggressive to his little brother.. even though he loves and adores him and often wants to play with him and hug and kiss him, he also has a hard time keeping his hands off of him in a negative way.. I am going to look into the book a PP suggested!


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