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.
You may need to be around more. The hitting is really a sympton of either an unmet need or a missing coping skill . You could try and do some CPS with her - collaborative problem solving and try to find out what are her concerns - Try to get a very detailed picture of the interaction - when, wjth whom, over what, why etc and come up with several tentative suggestions as what is bothering her . Not easy
Is it possible for you to be aware enough of what she's doing that you can physically stop her BEFORE she hits or pushes? Either by picking her up and moving her away from the other child or by picking the child up and moving him?
When my Dd was around that age there were a couple of boys in her playgroup that wanted to hit and push (not malicious, just normal toddler stuff) and I found the only effective solution was to physically intervene before a push or hit occurred--you could usually tell by the look or way a child was moving if they were going in for a hit/push. I did this by shadowing DD and simply lifting her up out of the way when I saw an impending hit coming. The other thing I sometimes did was to use my arm to block a hit or push (not to hurt or punish the other child, just to stop the push/hit). I might at the same time say "no hitting" or "we don't hit" or "stop" or whatever--not in a mean tone but in a firm informative tone.
It may be that she is feeling some jealousy around this child that you care for.
I think you are right about her being jealous. Probably this is similar to sibling rivalry. I am always right there and have been able to stop her every time, or at least lessen the blow so he doesn't really even notice. I just wanted to point out that DD is a really sweet, loving child, and is not doing this out of anger. I think she is really just interested in seeing what happens when she does hit, kick or push. Maybe she is a bit fascinated to the attention and response this behavior draws as well. I guess I will just continue to intervene and try and separate them, and hope she outgrows this phase quickly.
It sounds like normal 2 year old behavior to me. It sounds like you are handling it beautifully, and I doubt that anything you are or aren't doing is causing pushing and hitting. I have yet to meet a kid that doesn't experiment with being physically dominant. Hopefully this is a brief phase that will pass quickly-just stay close and redirect as much as possible!
I agree with trying to intervene and redirect before the push happens. She's only 2, which is still an impulsive age. Just make sure you are not over explaining - use short sentences. Longer sentences will tend to go in one ear and out the other. Praise for when she does a good job of resisting her impulse to push.
Thanks Dubfam, its helpful to have the reassurance that I am doing the right thing. I am making sure to keep an eye on them, and keep the play separate, or very well supervised at the end of the day when she is getting tired and hungry. That worked well the last time we were there.