When Your Lovable Toddler Has An Aggressive Side

RiceFamily2015-33OK friends, I am 100% in the weeds of the treacherous twos with my son Leo. My adorable, charming, and affectionate little toe-head is ornery as HELL! To give it to you straight, he’s been displaying some aggressive tendencies at preschool and at child watch at the gym, such as pushing or hitting other kids. This typically happens when another kid takes a toy he’s playing with, but I’m going to keep it real, sometimes he does these things for no apparent reason, too. I just don’t get how my lovable toddler has developed this aggressive side.

I think I’ve already mentioned in other blogs that Leo is a handful and he drives me batty. He’s “busy” all day long keeping me on my toes, but he’s also the sweetest little man and we have such a strong bond. So it kills me when I pick him up from preschool and I hear he was rough with the other kids that day. It’s becoming a fairly regular occurrence now so when I pick him up I pray to God the teacher doesn’t stop me and tell me Leo pushed or hit someone. And when they do say; “Um, can I talk to you for a second?” I cringe. The feeling of disappointment floods me.

I stand there and say I’m sorry, I don’t know why he’s hitting. And then I feel the need to explain myself to this young teacher; that there’s nothing about my parenting style that is leading to this behavior. I tell her that my daughter doesn’t act like that, as if to say that I can’t be a bad mom if one of my kids is a perfect angel! We don’t spank at home, I don’t know where he’s learning this, I continue. All the while I’m wondering if she’ judging my parenting skills when she’s asking me if he’s not getting enough sleep.

To throw me a bone, the teacher tries to console me by saying; “At least he’s not biting, if it makes you feel any better we do have some biters in here!” And I’m all; “Yes, thank you for telling me that, it’s comforting to hear.”

At home Leo and my daughter Annabelle love to chase each other around the living room and tackle each other. Well, mainly it’s Leo that does the tackling, but Annabelle certainly doesn’t mind the rough play, and she can give it back when she’s had enough! But she’s four and a half, she knows it’s one thing to play rough with her little brother, whereas Leo is just shy of 2 ½, so I don’t think he’s quite made the distinction between who it’s OK to chase and tackle and who it’s not.

Trust me, I redirect and firmly tell him that hitting is naughty and not OK. I put him in time out when I see him do it. I feel like he knows it’s wrong, but for some reason he continues to do it when the mood strikes (no pun intended). The other day I was told he hit a boy in school, so I got down on his level and asked him if he hit this kid. In the most innocent voice with the sweetest look on his face he said yes, he hit him. And then he leans his face into my face in the sweetest, nuzzliest way and my heart melts and I can’t reconcile why this little cuddle bug mama’s boy behaves this way! I asked him why and he just says; “Because.” It’s maddening. He’s communicating a lot more now and able to say plenty of multi-word sentences, but we’re not quite at a point where we can have a meaningful back and forth conversation.

Age appropriate behavior

I just keep reminding myself that he’s only two and although this isn’t desirable behavior, it is age-appropriate behavior for many kids, probably more so with boys who are full of energy and aggressive by nature. At this age they can’t always articulate their feelings; they get frustrated, they don’t like to share. And since they can’t verbally reason and their patience is non-existent, it can cause some kids to react more aggressively to certain situations.

I brought this up to Leo’s pediatrician at his two year checkup and he said it’s totally normal and he’ll grow out of it. I asked if his favorite movies like Big Hero 6 and Kung Fu Panda, where there are fight scenes, is causing him to emulate what’s on screen. He said it’s not likely at this age, which comforted me because this kid is the biggest movie buff and it’s one of the only things that brings me peace during the day.

The pediatrician did suggest getting him into sports to burn some extra energy. So we attempted Little Kickers soccer, but in the two sessions we attended Leo’s attention span was clearly too short for the 45 minute practices. We’ve recently tried swimming and I’m looking forward to getting him into some tumbling camps this summer.

RiceFamily2015-91I certainly don’t want to wish away this time because he’s still my baby and he’s going to be big soon enough, but I look forward to the time where I can pull him aside, discuss his actions, and see him adjust behavior based on that conversation.

Any parents out there experience a rough stage with your toddlers where aggressive behavior was an issue? How did you get passed it? Did your kids just outgrow it or did you try any techniques that you found successful and can share with me? I’m open to advice, so hit me! (OOPS, ACCIDENTAL PUN!)



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