Anonymous

Aggressive playing toddler?

Anything I can do about it or is it just his personality and OK? He likes to smash things against hard surfaces, swipe toys off the table really hard so they go flying, dumping toys, etc. I always thought this was normal toddler behavior so I never really say anything to my son to correct his behavior... I just make him clean up his mess once he’s done. But why is it that when we are in a room with other toddlers and he’s the only one doing this that I get dirty looks from other parents when I don’t do anything? He’s not hurting anyone or breaking anything... obviously if he was ruining toys, walls, floors or tables, or hurting someone I would step in and do something. But should I be full on correcting this behavior or is this just something typical and OK for a toddler to do except in the case of damage and injury?

  • Anonymous
    Jul 06

    Don’t know the right answer but my son is the same way! I usually just tell him to be gentle and if he’s being really crazy I distract him with a different toy. I think it’s totttttally normal for a toddler! Moms can be so harsh sometimes 🙄 I hate going to a crowded park for that reason... sorry no my one year old doesn’t know how to take turns yet or not play with your kids action figures, chill 🙄

  • Stay-At-Home Dan
    Jul 06

    My daughter does this sometimes. I feel it’s just something toddlers do. She is going through a learning phase of cause and effect. At first I would say something like “Don’t throw toys or be careful” but I noticed that she started doing it with everything. She throws everything and then puts it back just to throw those same exact things again. As long as he isn’t hurting anyone or himself or damaging the property of others, I say let him explore.

  • Holly Garnett-Pedreira
    Jul 06

    Definitely correct it... although it is normal toddler behavior it is still aggressive behavior. Eventually you want him to grow out of it, not think that it is ok to do. My son does the same thing..I always tell him that it's not nice. They still do it but they'll eventually understand what we are telling them!

  • Julie
    Jul 07

    Even “normal” toddler behavior should be corrected by explaining “gentle hands” or whatever term you choose and then demonstrating what that means. Then redirect. For example, my 22 month old is going through a phase where she hits when frustrated. Sometimes she hits herself, me, or a toy. Totally “normal” for her age but that doesn’t mean I do nothing...I always stop whatever we’re doing, say something like, “you’re frustrated, that’s why you’re hitting. It’s okay to feel upset, but you need to use gentle hands. Hitting hurts.” Then I show her how to pet or pat or something nice with her hands. I also try to help her to get past whatever’s frustrating her. So just start trying to talk through what he’s doing. Of course it’s normal and age appropriate but by never correcting it or showing how to do it “right” you are in effect normalizing the behavior and it will just get harder to correct in the future. Good luck!!

  • Anonymous
    Jul 07

    It needs to be corrected for sure but I wouldn’t worry about it in the long run. For the most part your child is either A) venting frustrations or B) processing cause in effect in relation to their actions. Neither are bad and both are important parts of development. Make sure your child knows healthy ways to deal with his feelings and be super descriptive when he does something you don’t like. Ex. “You threw that toy and now it is broken and we can’t play with it anymore. This is why we need to be gentle.”

  • Anonymous
    Jul 07

    So when he does it out of anger or frustration, I do address it. I take the toys away, wait for him to calm down, then we talk about it. I really think he’s doing it because it’s fun. He’s 2.5 years old and he’s been doing this for a year now. I feel like the cause and effect learning should’ve come and gone by now right? Maybe he’s doing this because he’s just playing. He doesn’t do it all the time either. 😪 and then other times I know he’s testing me - because he will knock stuff over and look for my reaction. So how do I react? Should I be mad? I tell him it’s not nice, to be gentle, and just ask him to clean up afterwards. Is that not enough?

  • Julie
    Jul 07

    I think that’s enough!! I see my daughter do the same thing sometimes. The other day I went to pick her up at daycare. She usually drops whatever she’s doing and runs toward me and this time she went to do that but at the same time stopped at one of the toy shelf holder things and swiped her arm across the top and laughed as they all went flying 🤦‍♀️🙄. I just tried to stay non reactive and said something like, “oh, you must be feeling excited, let me help you pick those toys up.” I honestly think that I’m always so hard on myself. She’s my only child and most likely will remain so, I’m always worried about her being overly helicoptered by me and also being too pampered...but at the end of the day, they’re freaking toddlers, for crying out loud. They do crazy things that make you wonder, “now why would you go and do that!?” You’re doing fine, mama. We (almost) all are!!! Good luck:).

  • Diana
    Jul 08

    I will fully admit I was the one giving dirty looks as there was one child throwing toys (nearly hitting others in the head by just inches), in a public play space, as that child was the only one that didn’t have a parent paying attention and helping to guide their play (I couldn’t figure out who his parent was in over 30 minutes and he appeared to be under 3 years old). To counter that, there was another time a child was screaming and trying to hit, but a parent was right there helping to redirect - that parent/child I loved and respected. While throwing and knocking things over is normal, I also feel strongly that parents need to guide their children in socially acceptable play (which does vary depending on where you live). For example, knocking down the tower you built, but not the one the child over there did. Throwing soft toys, but not ones with sharp edges (like legos/duplos). Sit down with him and demonstrate other ways to play, such as having the toy car stop at the stop sign instead of running into the truck and how happy that made the truck, etc.

  • Julie
    Jul 08

    Agree with Diana!! I thought of this after responding last night...I am usually correcting as much as possible during group play because I want her to learn as early as possible that her actions can inflict harm on others. The sooner this sinks in for toddlers, the better.

  • Kristin
    Jul 10

    Same boat. Sorry to hear if you feel being judged. It’s tough having a toddler. My toddler boy just turned 18 months & it’s been getting more interesting lately, we’ve been full on toddler mode. I usually make sure I’m near him, like inches, yes I’m that helicopter mom they called. I also talk to him first if he is doing something not nice, or may hurt himself or others. If he doesn’t listen, I changed my tone. If he still do it, I either distract him or remove him in the situation, even if it means going home with him screaming. I’m not a pro in parenting, I’m a FTM too. But I believe, as my parents have raised me, that our kids learn the most from us, but it is a very long process from here on.

  • Krisa
    Jul 11

    What you are describing is typical toddler “destructive play” and from what I’ve read/learned will continue throughout toddlerhood (not just during one part). Toddlerhood is most often considered the ages 1-3 so your 2.5 year old is exactly where this behavior fits. This is a huge part of learning! Yes it reinforces cause and effect but it also incorporates gross motor skills, fine motor skills, object permanence, problem solving, etc. This sort of play is good for your toddler but there are many ways for you to manage it as some of the parents discussed. Make zones where it’s okay and discuss where it is not. So your toddler likes to rip paper. Remove the important papers and say that’s for whomever it is important to and replace with old newspapers/magazines your toddler is free to rip. Your toddler will eventually learn to respect this. There are many ways like this to encourage this learning while teaching the wanted behaviors.

  • Erin
    Jul 11

    My son is like this also. I agree with what others have said and just wanted to add that it has helped to make a “yes” space for the smashing and crashing behavior- an outlet for the need to explore the world that way. It hasn’t eliminated the behavior in public or inappropriate places but it has helped him understand that there is a place and time to for that