Stopping your toddler from pushing

My two-year-old son likes to push other children. Whenever we go out to the park, supermarket, or shopping mall, he runs after other children, saying, "Push!" Then he will try to push them. We either have to leave or I will hold him until the child is out of sight. Please give me some advice.

Question:

Your son is really too young to want to push other children because he feels agression. He doesn't know any of these children, and according to your letter, he wants to push any child he sees.

I think that the most important phrase in your letter is "he runs after other children, saying, "Push!" I believe that he is pushing them because he sees that it gets a big reaction from you. It is possible that he thinks that this is how he is supposed to behave. It has now become a habit.

It is difficult to change a two year old's behavior, as they are often too young to respond to a reward system, but it is important to try. Start by using a word replacement. Try substituting the words "be gentle" for "push." Tell your son, "No pushing. Be gentle." And stroke him to show him what you mean.

Then, take him to a public place. When he sees a child and says "push," you say "Be gentle." If he goes up to push a child, take your son's hand in yours and show him how to be gentle. Then praise your son a great deal. If he pushes again, go through the entire process once more: the words, the stroking and the praise.

When he does learn to be gentle on his own, get very excited and make a big fuss over him, with hugs and lots of praise. Soon he will realize the value of his new behavior. It is important that you do the entire routine every time he says "push." Otherwise, it will lose some of its value.

Your son is too young to completely understand that pushing another child can upset others. And he probably won't understand that being gentle can be a way to begin play with another child. Those feelings start to occur at three years of age, when children become important to each other. But he will be able to see that being gentle gets a big reaction from his parents, and hopefully that will be reason enough to do it.

Start now. The sooner you can break the pushing habit, the better. It is important that he be over this by age three, so that he will be able to make friends when he is ready to socialize

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