Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2 year old anger and aggression problems

Questioner: Amanda

Subject: 2 year old anger and aggression problems

Question: I have a 23 month old son and a 7 week old daughter. Recently, my daycare provider has shared with me that she is concerned with my son's behavior.

He has been going to this daycare for about 6 months and has always had a bit of a problem with hitting but now it is so bad I'm afraid he will be kicked out of daycare. His teacher told me she is getting really worried about him seriously hurting one of the other kids. His temper is short and strong.

If a toy doesn't do what he wants, he won't ask for help like I've tried to teach him, he just screams and throws or kicks the toy. He also gets angry and runs and jumps down on his bottom so much that he always has bruises on his bottom. It's not only his temper that worries me, however, it's his aggression towards others.

For example when picking him up from daycare today he was standing by me one minute then with nothing said or done by anyone, he walked calmly over to a girl his age and slapped her HARD in the face. I explained how he gave her "owie" and that he can't hit. I also asked him to say sorry and he did and gave her a hug. Not two min later he pushed his teacher-same thing apologized again. Then on the way out the door, out of nowhere he walked up to a little boy and pushed him into a table.

His teacher tells me he is like this almost all day almost every day-it doesn't matter if he's angry, happy, tired, sick, excited, etc. She and I both use time outs but she said if she isolated him every time he acted out like this, he would spend most of his day alone. She suggested maybe his behavior was attention seeking since his sister was born. However, he did this before she was born and I hardly EVER hold her when he is around because he is always so needy.

He always wants to be held or have my undivided attention and I always try to give it to him so he doesn't feel jealous of his sister. I am also having trouble getting him to use his "inside voice"-he more likely than not will be yelling no matter his mood. I'm worried my child is unhappy and I'm worried he might hurt another child at daycare or be expelled before he can. Is there anything else I can do?

Dear Amanda,

That he has been doing this since before your daughter was born concerns me very much. That he has been allowed to continue this behavior at the expense of other children outrages me. The other children that he has attacked have been victims of his explosive behavior. Being worried about him being kicked out of daycare should be the least of your worries. That the daycare hasn't insisted that you have him assessed by an infant mental health specialist does not speak well of the day care either. I can only imagine what the other children have suffered so far because of his behavior.

That you are allowing his behavior to control how much you hold your daughter is another outrage. A baby needs attention!

Do seek counseling immediately. Obviously time out and other "punishments" are not working. You need intervention with this toddler now! You daughter will become his next victim and as her mother it is your responsibility to ensure her safety.

I noticed there was no mention of the father in this description. How is he handled by his father? Where has he learned this behavior is acceptable?

In addition to getting professional intervention I suggest getting him books that will support his using his words. Feeling books that teach children how to express themselves emotionally can be found in any bookstore in the children's section. There are books like "Hands are not for hitting," "Feet are not for kicking," etc...the more support he has for expressing his frustration and fears the better.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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