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  • Pushing...!

    My son is 13 months old. Recently, he has been pushed down by older toddlers, on three separate occasions. I realize that pushing and/or hitting may be unavoidable developmental phases, but I'm uncertain of how I should be dealing with them. I am a stay at home mom, and he is my only child and the only grandchild in our family, so he is rarely around children, except for the occasional play dates and weekly playgroup. Since I'm not around other children often, therefore don't really know what to expect, maybe I'm overreacting??

    I've experienced both ends of the spectrum...

    The first time he was pushed was at my friend's house. She doesn't practice AP. When her daughter (15 months) pushed my son down, she was verbally reprimanded by her mom, several times, until eventually, she was slapped on the hand, several times. I realize that slapping children's hands is a fairly common disciplinary action, but it is not one that I practice. My son watched everything intently, the pushing and slapping of the hands. He seemed fairly blown away by it all, if possible at his young age. I didn't feel it appropriate to criticize her method of discipline, yet I also didn't want my son subjected to viewing it, yet I also didn't want her pushing him down. Arg, what to do?!?

    On the next occasion, he was pushed down by a friend's little boy (about 2 1/2), several times during a play date, at the park. My son was leaning in for a hug two separate times (both of which he just started doing), when both times, he was pushed down. Then again later, he was pushed several times while trying to play with the toddler. He looked at me every time, as if to search my face for an answer to why this was happening, or to check my level of approval or lack thereof. I was, of course, saddened, but again, did not know how to handle it. His mom either didn't see it happen or didn't feel it important enough to deal with.

    In none of these situations was he physically hurt or in a position to be, or else I most definitely would have reacted by removing him from the situation. But, what is he learning by being pushed down? Should I be working to avoid these situations, or should I be more effectively dealing with them when they arise? Will he begin hitting now that he has experienced it, and if so, how do I handle that?

    Lost in this new toddler phase

  • #2
    take a look at this thread, it may help you:


    • #3
      I've been in the same situation as you. My daughter's been on the receiving end of this, and it's a tough situation. While I understand that the other child is not acting out of hate or anger, it still hurts and I want to protect my own child! Fortunately for me, the mom of the first child who did this to my daughter practices AP and handled her own child very well.

      I do think it's important to protect your child. I think it's okay to stand back and watch things like taking toys back and forth when the kids aren't bothered by it, but not physical events, whether the child is hurt or not. I would definitely intervene. I would offer empathy statements like, "Please don't push. Pushing can hurt." or, if your child has already been pushed, "I don't think she liked being pushed down. It doesn't feel good."

      Recently, I was in a situation with an unsupervised child I didn't know who seemed around my daughter's age (18 months). I, thankfully, was in the midst of reading The Discipline Book at the time. He pushed her once, and she was not hurt. She then went to push him, and I stopped her with words before she did it. I said something like "We don't push. Pushing can hurt." Later, when he went to push her again, I was able to stop him with words like these as well. If I hadn't been able to stop him with words, I would have physically removed her and said why I was doing it, "Pushing can hurt. I need everyone to be safe when we play."

      Hope this is helpful.


      • #4
        Thanks for the insight. I think you have the right idea about not standing back and allowing physical incidents to happen. Sadly enough, I've let the pressure of not wanting to seem like the over-protective mom get the best of me. Regardless of other mother's views of me, my interest lies in my son and what he is learning from the incidents.

        First, this may be sending him a message that I'm not protecting him. Second, how I am going to effectively teach him non-violence, if I don't even step in when it is inflicted upon him?

        Thanks for the great ideas and for contributing to my thought process. I truly appreciate it!


        • #5
          Hello Tasha,
          I have a almost 4yr old assertive child and I babysit a timid 2yr old. I have been actively teaching the 2yr old words to deal with my son's actions. I, of course still remind my son that "I need everyone to feel safe in our house" and "please don't push" but I still think the little one needs words to express what he is feeling--- instead of standing there and taking it! I encourage him to say "Don't push me Owen" or "Stop pulling my shirt" etc. I know it is not easy on him sometimes but I want him to stick up for himself too. I think children should be given tools to problem solve themselves, while we still supervise and observe.

          I also found Siblings Without Rivalry helpful. I know you have an only child but it is useful to any relationship-- freinds, cousins etc...
          I know it is frustrating, hang in there!


          • #6
            Although great advice in theory, or maybe when my son is older, there are two reasons that I don't think this approach would work for us now.

            At this point, I don't think my son realizes that pushing is a negative thing. He doesn't cry or seem upset, just very surprised when it happens. I think that is precisely the reason he searches my face each time it find out what I think of it. For purposes of him later knowing WHEN to take up for himself, along with learning what we find non-acceptable in terms of putting our hands on others, I believe I should be involved.

            As for the other reason...I truly believe that children, under supervision, should be allowed some room for negotiating and solving problems and conflict on their own. That was one of the reasons I haven't stepped in before. However, I believe that age and language development are the crucial components behind your advice. My son, at 13 months, does not have the words to express his disapproval of someone else's actions upon him. Until he is able to effectively communicate his needs and/or frustrations, shouldn't it be my job to do so for him? Since he is new to all of this, doesn't he need an example to live by? Although I feel it crucial to learn taking up for oneself, I also believe that one must understand he is worth taking up for...and if his caretaker allows him to be pushed down, in her presence, without stepping in, (BEFORE he is of the developmental capacity to effectively protect himself), is that really sending the right message?

            Also, I have a question about your situation. Like I said, I understand your desire for the 2 year old to learn taking up for himself. On the other hand, is your son allowed to be 'assertive', based on the fact that the 2 year old needs to learn this lesson? It seems as though (if you're not prohibiting him in any way), he might be learning that it is ok to be aggressive with younger children so long as they don't speak up and express their disapproval...which sort of sounds like the definition of a bully?? I don't mean to sound as though I'm attacking you, I'm truly not...just attempting to understand another's point of view. Maybe I'm missing something. Also, I should add, I am an only I missed out on the whole sibling rivalry thing. Maybe I'm being naive??

            Thanks, I appreciate you sharing your approach, and I think something like this will serve us well, in the future. I'd love your response...maybe I'm seeing things skewed?? Not only is HE new to this whole toddler thing, but so is his MOMMY!

            Thanks, again.


            • #7
              Sorry...I just realized you used 'assertive', not aggressive, my mistake.