Q&A: Any tips on handling aggression in a 2-year-old?
I have a 2-year-old child who's hateful to other kids. I watch two other kids during the day and she takes toys away and even hits them. This is my third child and my older kids never acted this way. I have tried time-outs, nothing seems to work. Do you have any ideas?
It may help to take a step back and try to understand the motivtions behind the behavior, although you’ll still need to deal with it. Is your child feeling jealous of your attention to other children? Maybe some one-on-one time with her during another part of the day would help. Is the behavior centered around certain toys? If so, getting duplicates would diffuse the situation. Is it at a certain time of day? Maybe she needs her nap time re-arranged.
Regardless, when you see her bullying the other children, try an approach that´s based on reinforcement theory, the idea that toddler behavior that gets adult attention (even negative attention like a scolding), can happen more frequently as a result of the attention. Next time it happens, pay no attention to your daughter, but instead give lots of comfort to her ‘victim’. The lesson for her is that not only doesn’t she get what she wants, but the other guy gets your time as well.
There aren’t any perfect approaches to your situation. What works depends on a child’s needs and temperament and level of development. It would also be good if you had some adult assistance for the other children in your care while you are dealing with this, if possible. Good luck.