Children Shoving Other Children

Archived Q&A and Reviews


20-month-old pushing others at childcare

My twenty-two months-old son has always a bad behavior when I drop him off in the morning and when I pick up him in end of the day. He would violently push a child, while staring at me. This puts me in a very delicate position, even if the child's parents do not react. I have to say that I am pregnant and the problem started when I explained to him that I am having a baby. We try to tell him that even if he is going to have a brother or sister, we love him and it isn`t good to push his friends. Does anyone have the same problem? We really need help. Thanks!

This is no surprise. It's pretty common behavior. I would suggest taking out the Bad and replacing it with something inappropriate, or misbehaving. Children will act out their feelings in ways that are reflective of their style, and usually they are trying to get what they want and can't ask for. He is probably someone who has trouble with transitions and may need some help adapting. There's a lot of adapting that is needed when a new child is in the picture. His reaction is normal, and the hard part is how to deal with it. I have a few suggestions. You may want to go on-line and do a temperament assessment that will help you understand his individual style of behavior. One child might push or hit under stress, while another might withdrawl or have sleep problems. All children are different based on their temperament traits (and other factors or course). The web site is If you are a Kaiser member I can go over the profile with you afterwards. Otherwise you can get advice sheets on the web site. (all free). Although it's usefull to tell children we love them(as you have), they do best with actions that let them know we really care and understand. Be sure that you have some one-on-one down time with him. (Even during this busy holiday season). Get some books about new babies that you can read together, but don't focus on the new baby all that much in your day to day time with him.(He doesn't need to hear you get excited about this new love of yours, Just imagine your husband saying that he has a new love, but don't worry there is plenty of love to go around to everyone! ANd this new love will be moving in!) Get out pictures of him as a baby, and look through them together. Children his age don't understand what all of this means.His actions show that he is not clear about what all of this means for him now.(When will this baby come?How long will he stay? will he take my place? these and other questions can't be answered for a child this age).SO what to do? I would help him feel that he has your attention when he needs it and yet you have to stop him from hitting or mistreating other children. The way I would do it when my kids were young is to hold my kids and say(In a firm but in control voice) to them something like, You may not hurt so and so I love you and I won't let anyone hurt you.Hold him and say this until he gets what you're may take many times. Look him in the eye (even if the other parent isn't saying or doing anytnig) and repeat to him that he may not hit..and you will stop him every time).If you ignore the behavior he will continue untill he sees what you will do. ANd then see if there is a way to help him communicate what he wants. Make the transition unrushed, and try and get help from the teacher to come up wtih a good ritual. He needs extra time for transitions, and also a sense that no matter what, you are there for him.(Love with limits is the over all message). Good luck, and don't worry...this won't last forever. I hope you find the temperament assessment usefull. If you have questions you can e-mail me at ronarenner [at] Happy holidays...and enjoy your little boy.

Two-year-old pushing children constantly

My son is just two years old and for the past few months has been pushing other children. He began pushing his baby brother (9 months) and then a friends daughter who is his age. Now he pushes children, myself, my husband, everyone constantly. He now comes home from the park with the babysitter and I ask what he did and he tells me he pushed kids! I have tried everything from time outs, telling him NO, slapping his hand, asking him why he does it, ignoring it.... I am at the end of my rope! I do not know how to effectively stop this behavior. People have told me this is normal behavior for a two year old boy. I am desperate to hear any thought on this subject. Maria

It sounds like your son has found a new game that is really exciting to him. Of course you are disturbed by your child pushing others--he doesn't realize he can hurt someone, or get hurt himself if he pushes a child who retaliates. This is normal behavior for a 2-year-old, but that doesn't mean you just wait it out. You need to concentrate on preventing him from doing this. It might mean you have to hold his hand when he is around other children, or hover nearby and physically intervene when you see him about to push someone. If you aren't fast enough at stopping him (and you won't be all the time), then remove him from the situation (put him in his room or strap him in a stroller) with a brief explanation that he can't push people; they don't like it, and he could hurt someone. Try not to make a big scene (even if he does) because part of the payoff for him may be the attention he gets. When he calms down, ask him if he's ready to be nice and let him go.

It's important for you to keep your message simple and clear: Pushing hurts and you won't let him do it. Tell him this before a push situation occurrs, and remind him when you restrain him. Otherwise, pretend that you aren't very interested in his pushing. Eventually, he will get tired of the pushing game and find something else that is exciting (hopefully, it will be something you can be genuinely excited about yourself). Louise