Need Some Suggestions for Little Guy Bullying

Updated on April 29, 2009
B.C. asks from Carterville, MO
13 answers

Alex will be two on June 5th. He has had issues in the past with being overly aggressive and some have seen marked improvement...others are just as bad, or worse. My biggest concerns are he throws things, anything really, but usually small hard toys...right now I take the toy away ( which doesn't seem to bother him in the least, I also say we do not throw toys in the house ((We recently instituted a balls only get thrown outside rule to try and help combat this throwing thing)) and this is also accompanied by he gets a time out ( just a minute long) again...he doesn't seem to mind/care. This is very upseting because it is usually his sisters head or the one little girl I watch about 3 days a week that is on the recieving end, sometimes myself or his daddy...but usually his sister and the little girl. The second Major issue is his bullying...he doesn't pick on anyone bigger than him ( typical bully) just the little girl...he will push her down, lay on top of her, take toys out of her hands...I feel awful, I have always stayed home with him, he gets a ton of attention...I just don't know why he acts like this. I have tried time outs I have tried talking about how we are nice and use nice touches...I have even popped his fanny a couple of times...which sems counter productive when I am trying to teach him we don't hit = ( It basically boils down to he doesn't seem to respect anyones personal space and even though this is my third kiddo, and I am by no means new to just seems like I have never had so many issues with one child and especially not at this young an age...he is getting bigger, I fear it will only get worse, and I the little girl that I have 3 days a week used to be full time and I have watched her for several months now, so it isn't new to him ( I kinda thought maybe it would take some time but I feel he should be over this or used to her by now) I can tell you that he is speech he doesn't have a lot of words that some kids his age already do, but I don't want to go making excuses for him...any suggestions? I don't want to be the mom of a bully.
Thanks in advance...

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answers from Kansas City on

I agree with the other responses but I also wanted to suggest looking into speach therapy. I know the start at 3 so I don't know if 2 is too young. My oldest boy had a speach delay and he was a terror! I can imagine how frustrating it would be to want to say something but not know how. I hope this helps. Good Luck!

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answers from St. Louis on

consistentency is the key....have the same punishment again & again....but be sure it's something that carries some weight to it. With my daycare & this age group, I find that time-out in a chair is not's more of a battle to get the child to stay in the chair.

Instead, if a little one hurts a friend....then the time-out is in bed. (I know many people frown on this....but that bed is each child's sanctuary/safe zone. It truly works wonders with discipline. There's fewer temper tantrums, the crying or complaining stops quicker.....& the audience is removed.) Sometimes the time-out is only 2 minutes & sometimes it's until the crying stops. Once this pattern is set, I truly find the events end quicker. If the bed is not an option, then time-out on my lap is the next step....I clearly state "why" the child has to sit on my lap. I do not berate the child.....simply wait for compliance & a willingness to listen to my words. With the other kids playing, this doesn't take long! & of course, being pro-active as a childcare provider goes a long way... it's much easier to stop the child's actions before they escalate into the physical. I am right in the middle of everything all day long....not interrupting or directing the play, but simply present & available as a "stop-guard".

Ooops, I'd like to add one more thought: this is normal behavior for this age group. It's not nice to witness, not fun to deal with.....but still on track. It's our job as parents & childcare providers to provide & model acceptable behavior. With some children it's easy....& with others, it can be very challenging. The key is to "use our words"- in just that "right/reasonable/I'm in charge" tone of voice while disciplining. Don't let the kids see you sweat!

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answers from St. Louis on

I make it a point not to read other posts before I respond. I think it allows me to speak from a personal place and not with other ideas floating around in my head.

I raised 3 kids, 2 boys and a girl. I also have had a lot experience with children of relatives and friends. One thing that kept jumping out is that he doesnt care. You do something to curb his behavior and he doesnt care.

You could ask us a hundred times how to handle this and we no one here can answer that for you. You know your son, you know what is important to him and what isnt. So if he doesnt care then find something he does care about. Until you make unacceptable behavior mean something to him, why should he stop.

So time out for one minute doesnt bother him, taking the toy away doesnt bother him. What does??? He is hurting other people, physically and you need to make his punishment hurt. By that I mean, he needs to feel that his punishment out weighs any benefit he may get from acting like this. No one can do that for you.

2 year old boys are a lot more physical than girls. They are also a little less verbal. However they can be trained and taught to be nice, it takes dedication and work.

When my son was about this age he was small for his age. We were at a local gathering with other mothers and young children. My son had a toy truck, he was happily playing with. A boy much bigger but about his age, came over and took the truck away. When my son tried to take it back, the boy hit him with it. His mother, watched the incident and told her son not to be so rough. He took the truck and walked away. He then came back and began to bully him with other toys. His mother, had lost control of him. She tried but he was not stopping, and I was getting hotter by the minute. His father walked over, picked him up and gave him 3 swats on the butt. He looked at him and told him to say he was sorry, which he did. The father put him on a chair and made him sit there for about 3 mintues before he could get up. When he let him up he told him that if he acted mean to the other children again, he would get 3 swats and a time out. That little boy played well with the other kids until his dad turned his back and mom was in charge again.

She saw him start bullying my son and she came over and told him that he should be nice. He told her to shut up and proceeded to take my sons toys again. She told him to use nice words and be a good friend by giving the toy back. He told her no he didnt want to give it back. She sat there on the floor trying to convince him to be nice and give the toy back, telling him how proud of him she woudl be. He said, no.

Then dad entered the picture, came over and asked what was going on. He looked at his dad and without saying a word he handed the toy back to my son. His dad told him that he knew he was trying to be a good boy and he was proud of him but, he would not put up wiht any more disobedience. He told his dad he was sorry and he would not do it again.

I witnessed two very different parenting styles and all I can say is that the boy knew what was right. He knew what was expected, it was just that one parent had learned how to reach him. The other parent was have no effect on him at all.

Every child is different, until you find the way to reach your son and make the punishment count, you will continue to fight this battle. In all of my years of dealing with children, I have learned one thing. When you are serious enough to rock their little world, they start to pay attention.

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answers from Kansas City on

I think you need to bring the hammer down on this child (figuratively, of course). First of all, make time-out longer than one minute. Make it MORE of an inconvenience to him. Make sure he can't play with anything or talk to anyone while he's in time-out. Make time-out hurt (again, figuratively).

Secondly, find something he really cares about and turn it into a privilege he must EARN with good behavior. A certain food or treat? TV time? A certain video? A certain toy? His favorite shirt? Whatever it might be, take it away and tell him he can earn it by playing nice.

Third, institute a zero-tolerance policy on bullying and be sure to express your extreme displeasure and disappointment EVERY TIME it happens. NO ENDLESS WARNINGS. NO YELLING. When things are calm, explain to him exactly which behaviors you DO NOT WANT and when he does them....respond quickly and dramatically. Remove him from the situation immediately, put him in time out, and make sure he knows you aren't happy. Not with yelling or hitting, but with the expression on your face. It's probably better not to say much at all, other than "No, we don't do that."

Do NOT get drawn into excessive explanations, arguments, or negotiations. Keep discussion to a minimum. Just calmly bring the consequences to bear every single time. Don't OVER-explain every incident to him. He's too young to really understand how he's making others feel in any given situation.

My mother still talks about a "look" my grandmother would give her children. Just one of those looks and the kids would straighten up fast. I'm working on cultivating such power myself..and I suggest you work on that too. He has to sense your authority, your confidence, and your absolute resolution to punish him if he disobeys.

I'm not really as hard as I'm probably coming across here...but if there's a terrible behavior you need to stop, then it's important that you convey a calm authority and confidence, and do not tolerate that behavior at all.

Also, it's important that you not lose control and fly into a rage over this. He must know that you are in control or he won't take you seriously. Make sure your husband and any other caregivers are on-board with this program and enforce it just as well as you do.

I got a lot of these ideas from the book "The Brat Stops Here" by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen. Good luck.

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answers from Kansas City on

You need to find some toys that can easily be played with in a highchair. Tell him that if he can not be good to his friend, he may not have the run of the house. You also need t institute a no-tolerance rule. The very first time he does anything mean in any way, he is at the table, highchair, pack and play, or any place she is not. He can NOT have a lot of toys, only a few. He needs to stay in that place he is playing by himself until after lunch if it's morning or until she goes home if it's after lunch. If he plays by himself all morning, then after naps I would tell him he has a clean slate. It's like starting a new day. But if he does it again, anything at all, and I don't care how small the infraction, he is isolated, playing alone again the rest of the day while she's in care. If you will do this for a few days, he'll stop.

THE LOOK! Yeah, it's more than just a look. It's body language, tone of voice, consistancy in punishing and consistancy in not allowing ANYTHING to be excused. This has nothing to do with lack of verbal skills. I've never believed that hogwash. I've had plenty of super talkers that were bullies until I stopped them.

I have one 4 year old now that is a bully at heart. She has been punished many times. But she doesn't actually bully anyone more than once or twice per week. She knows she'll have swift and sure concequenses if she's caught. Unfortunately, my own daughter sometimes goes out of her way to protect this girl from me finding out! UGH! That's my cross to bear. My daughter loves this girl like no other and thinks she can do no wrong. This just illustrates how much everyone in the house needs to be on the same page.


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answers from Wichita on

Good Morning B., He is still a little young to totally understand the time out thang! Just keep doing it though.

Kids that age normally think every toy, book, crayon is Their personal property and Granny bar the door if someone touches it or plays with it. I have 5 gr kids and even the older 2, 9-8 will yell if someone takes their things.
Their younger brother will be 5 in July, and he will tell our other 4 yr old gr son to NOT touch, or GIVE me that. So Corbin thinks he can do that to his Baby brother Zane. Wrong!!Sharing is a hard lesson to learn for little folks.
Keep letting your little Bruiser know we don't HURT, Hit or Push our friends, Mommas or daddy's either. It hurts our feelings, and makes us feel bad when you try to hurt us.

If he hits the little girl remove him immediately to sad place or time out chair, corner whatever you use. Tell him firmly We do NOT hit. He will get the message B., really he will. Even if you have to put him there 20 times a day, don't give in.
Zane is 18 months now and is throwing toys also, I take the toy away and tell him No Throwing. He gets to sit on the floor for a minute in time out. *Really laughing* Gen sat him on the floor the other day in time out, he looked at her with his little arms raised and said I wov vou. She laughed and said she wuvd him too but he had to sit there.
Zane is our tantrum thrower kidd-o, no idea where he got it from but I just step over him and walk off when he does it. He stops pretty quickly, since I am not paying attention.

There isn't a easy perfect way to help a child learn some things, just try to continue to be firm, not loud or angry.

God Bless you B., your little bruiser will get it soon. Then it is on to something even more wonderful.

K. Nana of 5

PS B. since you said your little Prince is speech delayed have you seen Baby Einstein's "Talking Hands" DVD? It is wonderful and Zane is now picking up signs quickly. He doesn't talk much either. Corbin had a big vocab, by 18-19 months.

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answers from Wichita on

Hi B.,

I can relate to you. But I'm coming from the other side. My son has been dealing with an issue of bullying at church from another little guy.

My son is big for his age and the little guy bullying him is 7 months older, but smaller. I've tried talking with his mom... no help. I've tried talking to the workers at church... it's still happening. I've asked for help from moms on here... not much help either. (I posted 2 requests, and only received 1 reply.) I hope you get more!
What we finally had to do was take him out of his classes and wait. We'll put him back into church classes next school year and see if the little guy has curbed his bullying.

Sorry, I really don't have any suggestions to tell you. I'm still trying to figure this out myself!!

God bless you, I really hope you get this under control! ls



answers from St. Louis on

My son wasn't a bully, but he was biter. Talk about getting the evil looks, etc. from other parents. He only bit when provoked, but it was BAD! Two things. 1. From the time he could crawl he hated having other kids in the house (I did home daycare at the time). He would try to drag the other babies out of his bouncer seat or pull them down (he was only 6 months at this time). 2. The biting came in when he couldn't express himself. He didn't have the thought process or the verbal skills to tell on them so he would just react. Again, he only bit when he was hit or another child took a toy away, etc. We tried everything from the timeout, biting back (actually there were other kids there that did bite, but it didn't phase him), a tap to the mouth, called the parents helpline, pediatrician, etc. It did get better as I was able to teach him to express himself through words. Can you try to only let him play with the girls when he is being nice? Keep him separated (I know I don't like the idea of making a child feel isolated), but only let him play with them as long as he is playing nicely? Do you have playpen still that you can put him in, & say you can only play outside of here with the other kids when you play nicely & when he is out, if he doesn't play nicely he goes right back to the playpen & for longer than a minute as it's not like a timeout, it's just a place for him to play safely away from the other kids. Good luck & stay consistent with him!



answers from Kansas City on

speaking as a preschool teacher, ur son is expressing frustration because he doesnt yet have the expressive language to tell others about how he is feeling. if u help him by giving him phrases to say: im playing with that, dont hit me, i dont like it when u hit me, or whaat ever u think is going on at the time, it will help. :)



answers from Kansas City on

Try making him give back the toy and apologizing to the other child. Ask him what he should have done, then tell him if he doesn't come up with something, 'we don't throw toys, someone can get hurt'. When I had several of my grandkids staying with me, there were times when one of the kids were not acting as they should and would have a time out that day from the playroom. Maybe making him play by himself somewhere close to you, will have an impact, I know mine were so anxious to play with the others again, that they wouldn't repeat the behavior.
I agree that it's frustration with him, not able to play with a toy, not able to express his feelings, whatever.
As for him being used to the little girl, now is the time he's realizing she is a permanent thing and expressing his frustration about having competition for the same type attention from his mother. Just take time out to hold him sometimes especially when you see his frustration mounting. I've posted this before, my daughter tried the flower vase thing, they would start the week with a certain amount of flowers and each time they exhibited a certain unwanted behavior a flower would be taken from the vase. If they still had at least one flower in the vase at the end of the week, they would get some sort of treat, nothing big, a trip to McDonald's, a favorite treat at home, a day with mom, a trip to the park.. maybe even you could let them know what they might be working toward so they know what they've missed if they mess up. Eventually my granddaughter's came around to behave as they should and now the flowers stay full time in the vase. Good Luck!



answers from St. Louis on

My kids are almost out of high school. I did it the old school way. If they threw something and it hit someone... they got their butt hit. And then it didn't happen again for a long time. The other child got the immediate pain of a bad decision and so did the one who threw it.

It worked.

L. (H. now)


answers from Kansas City on

Maybe if he actually hits someone, then pop him on the butt and then plot it in time out totally away from everyone where he cannot see what is going on. And more than a minute. The little boy I took care of wasn't a bully but wasn't an angel either, he would get put in timeout and if he moved or layed down he got a swat...if he hurt someone then the swat came before timeout and still if he moved he got another one and his time increased. After a couple of months his timeout time was much shorter and fewer. He was two also. I hope you get a handle on the situation and it turns around. Good luck and God Bless.
P.S. My girls got the same treatment when they were little and their behavior stopped real fast.



answers from Kansas City on

I found a couple of the responds funny, and helpful. One of them mention their grandmother giving the "look". My dad was an expert at this one, he could tell me to shut up or go to my room with only a look and they were different looks for each. Also, when we where in church when a "look" wasn't appropraite he would simply put his hand on my leg and I'd about pee my pants. We knew who was in control at our house. When I was raising my oldest daughter (she's now 18), in the backwoods of Arkansas spanking was customary. Mothers even carried "switches" in the store. I didn't do that, but my mother did. My daughter was never really a problem, embrasing sometimes, but that's normal. When spanking became not so popular she was older about 4 or 5, so her punishment became cleaning, what ever needed cleaning bathtub,floor, whatever. This worked great for me. I always had something age approprated for her to do. I tried writing sentences 100 times later but that never really worked to well. Besides I would rather her do her homework. She never knew what she might have to clean but she always knew she wouldn't like it. By the way, that didn't carry over to a clean bedroom, her bedroom is always a wreck! Taking things away didn't bother her, she didn't care. She was no bully more like the victim on the playground. But now I have the bully kid, she 3. At 18 months she would bite, until she got bitten one day at daycare. After the kid bite her the third time I was done. we moved on, but she quit bitting. Next came hitting, throwing, pushing, pinching which she still does even to adults, namely me. I put her in a Mom's Day Out and at first I thought we were going to get kicked out until dad decided that if they thought her behavior was unacceptable then maybe it must be. Like mom knows nothing, you know? Anyways, he then started backing me up and talking to her about being nice. At the same time her school did too. They didn't like being told no either like mom. She's better now, far from where she should be. (I got pinched & hit yesterday as did her little sister) She also had problems with speech. So we got her into Infant Toddler Services to work with her. She has caught up now so that helped a lot. I would check into that program, it's not based on income. When children have words they are less fussrated. Here's their number, 1-800-332-6262. It's a Johnson County program.

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