What to do about a mean kid?

Lindsey - posted on 05/02/2012 ( 26 moms have responded )

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I have a 20month old daughter and we hang out with this family that has a 2 year old son. They are extremely close friends, but their child has something seriously wrong with him. He constantly pushes, takes things away from my daughter and even pushed her down three stairs giving her a black eye. The parents don't really discipline him and when i say that i say that very lightly. they will spank him softly and when he cries they pick him up even though they are so called "disciplining" him. when he hits or pushes her they say oh you are being naughty and thats as far as they go with disciplining him. The way he looks at her is creepy like he wants to hurt her and then not even five minutes later my daughter is crying. I feel the only way for me to protect my daughter is to stop contact with them. but what am I supposed to say when they ask to hang out or why i haven't come around. Especially since they live less than a mile away from our house. I don't understand how a child can be so evil and then the fact that he doesn't have boundaries set makes things so much worse. What should I do? How should I handle this situation I am scared and frustrated and completely broken about how my daughter is being treated. I want to discipline him myself and just tear him up but I tell myself he is two.

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Jocelyn - posted on 05/03/2012

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P.S. You might have to get down on the floor and play with them. Be interactive and gentle to model acceptable ways to play. Children tend to do what they see rather than what we just tell them to do. Also, children need appropriate consequences. Since you can't put him in time out, I would suggest the first time he is rough, tell him (kneel down to his level) "no hitting" and tell him if he is rough again, then you and your daughter will have to leave, then follow through. Show him gentle touches like patting and let him practice, then praise him for it. You might have to enter "rough touches" and "gentle/soft touches" into his vocabulary by repetition and demonstration of it's new to him. You'll have to see them every week for it to sink in that roughness means the end of play time. After a few times, tell him at the beginning of playtime that the first time he is rough you'll both have to leave. Be stern and consistent. It is a lot of work and what daycare teachers do everyday, but you're not his teacher and if you don't feel like putting in the effort, just break off contact. It's important your daughter feels safe and protected with you. She needs to see you come to her defense.

Jocelyn - posted on 05/03/2012

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Yeah, it really irks me when parents don't discipline their children because they assume developmentally appropriate behavior equals acceptable. Roughness, hitting, pushing, is all developmentally appropriate but that doesn't equal "there are no mean/aggressive two year olds". Aggressive children exist in every age and at this age it all depends on how extreme the behavior is as well as cause. It's normal for children to react by pushing or hitting if a coveted toy is taken away, but to run across the room to a child who has not been interacting and attempt to stab them with a toy is aggressive behavior. From teaching in daycares I've seen a lot of two year olds and out of a classroom of 15+, usually only one is aggressive and it's quite obvious which one. I would suggest first trying to teach the child how to initiate play in a non-violent way, such as asking with the sign language for "play", since some boys use pushing if they don't know how. Tell him it's not okay to hit/push in a stern voice if he does. Most of all, keep your child safe. If it continues, then stop hanging out with them and be honest as to why.

Kaitlin - posted on 05/02/2012

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Um, he's TWO. He's not a mean kid, he's just a two year old boy. Everything he is doing is totally natural. Yes, it seems that his parents are lacking in the discipline department, but the way you are personally describing it sounds disturbing to me- you seem far to quick to say this CHILD has a serious problem when he is obviously just acting like a two year old boy- what would YOUR form of discipline be for this child?
If you have a concern for your child's safety, talk to the parents. Ask them if they are comfortable with you disciplining him (and explain EXACTLY what that would be). Talk to them very openly and honestly. If they are as close as you say, then it certainly seems you are doing a disservice to your friendship to keep it bottled up. Just be careful not to attack them as parents- talk about your child's safety.
Is your daughter and their son both only children? Socialization in the early years are really hard, and often come with bruises. Try not to take it personally, you may be in the same situation in a year with another small girl. Good luck.

Barbara - posted on 05/08/2012

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Hi Lindsey! That's a pretty hard situation! I think the parents definitly need to wake up and see that they need to step in before he hurts another child. Unfortunatly, you are responsible for the protection and safety of your daughter, not their feelings. If I were in that situation, I would have a hard time, but I would have to stop going around. For one, their son has not been taught that his actions have consequences and he will continue escillating (spelling?) until something serious happens. For two, it is possible for your daughter to pick up on this behavior. Children learn alot from other children. Though, I would be concerned first and foremost of her safety. If your friends question you about your recent absence, the best thing to do is be blunt about their son's behavior so maybe they will see that it has become a serious problem. I wouldn't call him evil, he just needs some discipline. So sorry you are in such an uncomfortable and somewhat scary situation.

Cari - posted on 05/08/2012

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I've got two 3yr old sons who have never hit and when they do they get punished. My husband wanted us to have a play date with a friend of his and his daughter with our daughter but after my husband told me about her kicking I refused, no matter what age it is not ok for them to hit. I would just politely tell them that until they do something about their son hitting your daughter you cant allow them to have play dates or anything of that nature. I would have stopped it after him pushing her down the stairs, she could have been seriously hurt and if the little boys parents arent showing that they care about what he does then they arent real parents.

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Megan - posted on 06/09/2012

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He is just 2 and a boy, my opinion its a normal part of his development but his parents do need to be consistently watching and guiding his behaviors. my son will be three we went thru the same situation with him, he was a boy he played rough with his dad and grandpa and didn't realize that the same was not always appropriate for younger children. With a little guidance this child would be fine he most certainly does not sound evil. My son took some time but his sister will be a year and he is one of the most loving protective big brothers I have ever seen.
That being said obviously your priority has to be your daughter so be honest with his parents and tell them your concerns or gently tell him no when you see that he is getting too rough.

Samantha - posted on 06/05/2012

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No child is evil, and it just insane you would even call a 2yr evil. Toddlers go threw things and are often having a hard time expressing there needs wants and frustrations. Yes it seems like the parents are not doing there part, and also by spanking a child when you think they are being bad only teaches them to hurt when they are upset. I would maybe advice giving them so reading marital on positive discipline, and compassionate parenting. My daughter too has struggles with being mean to others and not sharing, we are in the long process of fixing it, i realize now its not her it was me and her dad and how we didnt have a real game plan on how to take care of a toddler and give her all the things she needed to be happy, kind, understanding and able to express herself right.

Lee - posted on 06/05/2012

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My son use to be the "bully" when he was two or so, but he was playing rough, and didn't know it. He would chase other kids and push them, but I didn't understand where he thought pushing was a good way to play with other children. It is up to the parents to stop the negative behavior immediately. I did, and as he got older it gotten less and less after he figure out how to play with other children and after showing him ways to play with others. The irony to this story is when he turned 7 years old my son became the victim to bullying by a neighborhood child. The kid was 11 years old. He couldn't shake him, everywhere my son went, literally, he would pick on my son and cause him not to want to play. I approached the bully while catching him in the act one day of bullying and asked him to take me to his parents. Unfortunately they were not to be found. Luckily the park was located by a police station and my boyfriend at the time suggested that just call the parents from the police station to resolve the issue. I think that would had been a smarter choice, but me having a forgiving heart, and seeing that the child was scared I decided not to call from the police station but instead just use my cellphone and call his parents. At the end of it all, the people we called wasn't his parents, it was an older brother, who gave us choice words as if we were in the wrong, and said "put your kids in karate" and hanged up. So we took matter into our own hands, even though it wasn't the right thing to do, we just gave him a taste of his own medicine and chase the kid around the neighborhood with our cars, but we didn't plan on harming the child, just scaring him straight, yelling "were taking you to the police station!" That definitely scared him, and never bullied my son again whenever he was outside playing.

Natalie - posted on 06/05/2012

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I agree, he is not evil. I have a 2 year and 3 year old boys. Both went through the hitting stage. Maybe girls are much different? My 3 year old does not hit anymore through discipline and doesn't even hit his younger brother even if the 2 year old hits him. A 2 year old boy is testing his boundaries and if this is there first child they might not be bad parents they just might not know how to handle the situation. If you like them so much as friends then you need to say something to them or the child, but don't wait until your child cries you must catch him in the act and you tell him off - trust me its much more powerful coming from someone else than his own parents. Remember that there is no perfect parent and they might be doing there best, you daughter whether you like it or not is going to be pushed around by all sorts of kids now, at school and you won't always be there to protect her. My oldest son learnt at Kindy that if another kid does something that he doesn't like he holds up his hand to the kids face and says STOP! I don't like that... and it really does work...

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Rebecca, I had a similar situation to that except it was my nephew the older girl was being nasty to, I did a similar thing to. We were at a public soft play area and He was playing with a toy that nobody else was playing with, this girl came up to him and demanded he put the toy back as she put it there blah blah blah, my nephew was dumb founded so I stepped in and told him he could play with it as nobody else was playing with it, and the girl gave me daggers, I expected her to fetch her mom but she didn't.

Rebecca - posted on 06/05/2012

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I was in a situation where my son came up to me saying "The girls wont let me play in the play room" I was in a coffee place where there was a play area.My son and i had got there before these girls not that that makes a difference.
Anyway i walked into the play room finding three older girls guarding the slide so noone else could play.Turning to my son i said (loud enough for the girls to hear) "Why dont you ask those girls if you can go on the slide? They are big girls so they know how to share ONLY babies dont share and im sure those girls arent babies" I also made eye contact with them and i have to say they did then let my son and the other children play.
It was hard,i felt very anxious and shaky as i did not know how the other parents would react but thankfully it turned out ok.Maybe you could try a scenario like this?

Kasey - posted on 05/08/2012

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Hey, I can Definetly sympathise with your situation not so extreme. But when another little kid hurts your kid especially your first and only at that point its hard not to take it to heart. But like everyone has said ur problem Definetly lies with the parents. And i would def be telling him no hitting etc. If they are not. No yelling just in an authorative tone. That alone might make the parents realize they need to take more action. If ur not sayin anything they might just assume ur in the "this is normal behavior" boat. But saying somethin might make them realize its not ok with u.

Jocelyn - posted on 05/08/2012

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Ditto Nicole's sentiment. I would never call a two year old "evil", but she's just exasperated and needs help. She's on Circle of Moms/Mums, so help her. If you're really just interested in breaking off contact without killing the friendship and wondering what to say, then I wouldn't criticize their parenting. Criticizing someone's parenting sends people on the defense and can kill any relationship, personal or professional. I would just explain that your daughter has become afraid and you need to protect her. Don't blame anyone for his behavior, keep a sympathetic tone, and just say you all can wait a year until this phase is over (most children outgrow aggressive behavior with the development with language and communication skills) and then the kids can play together. You can mention that you still want to be friends and invite her on a monthly girl's night out.

Nicole - posted on 05/06/2012

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I think everyone else should quit attacking her choice of words, and JUST give her helpful advice. I have felt the same as her, and have been in that situation before. When the child was mean to mine. I told him to stop we don't behave that way it's not nice. It eventually worked he learned I atleast wouldn't stand for that behavior.

Jodi - posted on 05/06/2012

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WOW, an evil 2 year old huh? I guess my house is full of satan's spawn then. It is completely NORMAL for a 2 year old child to hit, push, take toys etc etc. There is nothing evil in that. And you want to "tear him up"? WTF?! I would say stop seeing them, less for your daughter and more for that little boy personally. He shouldn't be around someone that think he's evil and wants to tear him up, he doesn't deserve THAT treatment. I mean, your villainizing him for being a normal 2 year old, and yet her eyou are, an ADULT, calling him evil?!

If it is such a big problem to you, stop seeing them. But I seriously advise getting used to it. Toddlers hit and push and kick and bite and take toys, it's just how they act, some worse than others. If the parents aren't disciplining him to your satisfaction, that's YOUR problem. You can choose to talk to them about it, perhaps they just don't see their parenting methods as lacking like you do and some light on the subject from an outside source will help them. But I really think the bigger problem here might be you. Not *trying* to be mean, but christ! If you called MY kid evil (And yes, she has hit and punched and kicked and taken toys) I would never allow you near my child again.

Marie Angeli - posted on 05/05/2012

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We're talking about 2yrs.old here right, so it's not appropriate to call a little boy mean or evil. it's true that there are kids who are more aggressive than others, or sometimes hurt or hit other kids. But that doesn't mean they are mean or evil. In fact, they really don't know what they are doing because he's just two! (remember terrible two stage), so who are to blame? Definitely the parents,or the caregivers who are looking after him. Yes it is still normal that some children may act or behave that way but it doesn't mean you can just let him act that way, it's not an excuse not to discipline or correct their actions. I believe that children will act or behave how they parents brought them up, so its the parents' responsibility to teach and mold their child's attitude and behavior. Talk to the family sincerely, about your concern in a way that they won't feel that their child is a threat to yours. In that way you can also help them to become better parents.

Emma - posted on 05/05/2012

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I would sit and play with them and if he does something wrong and the parents don't say anything. I would say no hitting that's not kind in a stern voice but not shouting. Also be very positive and praise him lots when he passes a toy or smiles etc... Praise can really do wonders. After a few play dates like this gradually leave them to play alone for short periods, also try to observe triggers for his behaviour and then you can dissract him before he does it again. I hope this is helpful I have worked within childcare and have found this to work really well.

S. - posted on 05/05/2012

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@ Rebekah I have so much respect for mothers like you, all children need to learn how to play nice and some are rougher then others but to me it makes a whole world of difference knowing the parent is checking them. I wish more mothers was like you :)

Rachel - posted on 05/05/2012

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Fiest off, you shouldn't be calling kids evil or nasty!!!!! Obviously other than judging them for their parenting skills, there maay be an underlying cause for the childs behavior. I say thi with kindness since I am going through a rough patch with my 3 yr old and his behavior, maybe instead of posting it here and being not so nice about it, you can be adults and say it to the parents face to face!!!! Remember they are only less than a mile away and eventually you will have to explain. Have a good day!!!!!

Rebekah - posted on 05/04/2012

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I am a single mother with a 2-year-old son and he is very rough with other people at times as well. I discipline my son and he knows he should not push or hit other children, but he still does it. I think some of the problem is he is used to being the only one with his toys and such so he thinks everything is "mine" when he wants it. Plus he is used to playing with uncle, grandpa, and me so he can be a lot rougher with us and it does not affect us in the same way it would someone his own size. Most of the time I don't think its deliberate he just acts before he thinks which I think is normal for his age. I have to monitor him closely when we are with other kids his age and size. I do suggest warning him that you will leave if he is rough like Jocelyn Webb suggested because I know it works pretty good for my son. I will warn him once and than leave or if we are home I will make him leave the room the kids are playing in. I have to believe this is a stage that will hopefully pass not that he is a "bully" or "mean". You should also talk to the parents about your concerns and also bring up areas your child might have been mean to so they don’t feel attacked. You could also just meet in larger areas like a park so they have more space. I don’t know just ideas I am trying from the “mean” side of the fence.

Ebere - posted on 05/03/2012

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For some people, spanking works..I spank mine, and she knows not to hit other kids .. Works for me

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Um people are saying he's not mean because he is only doing what is normal for a child his age, it's not his fault he's not been disciplined correctly and is allowed to continue these behaviours. It is unfair to blame a child who knows no better yet for his negative behaviours, it is his parents fault. My 2yo son is incredibly loving and tender to everyone, not just girls but if we allowed him he would also be far too rough at times too.

Firstly speak with his parents, explain to them that currently you are unhappy with how their son treats your daughter because hand hurting her, try and think of times where you were unhappy with your daughters behaviour towards their son and how you corrected it and explain this too so they can see you're not attacking their child. Tell them that if he continues to hurt her you will be forced to stop coming, which you don't want because they mean a lot to you. Then if he does hurt her and they don't correct his behaviour, you discipline him (nothing drastic just explain we don't hit people because it upsets them etc) or if you don't want to discipline him yourself leave. Then if they ask why you don't want to come round remind them of this conversation.

I'd speak with then about the example they set him too, when they hit him...we cannot teach our children not to hit if we hit them!

Stifler's - posted on 05/03/2012

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I agree with Kaitlin he's 2!! You need to speak to the parents about this and if they don't understand or do anything and this is affecting your child then avoid them.

Ebere - posted on 05/03/2012

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Why is everyone saying he isn't mean? He is a MEAN 2yr old..I've been around so many 2 year old boys and I haven't seen them behave that way..infact, I rather noticed that they were more tender with girls.. He's just not being disciplined.that's all and could grow up to be a big bully.. Please don't subject your kid to that..explain to the parents like Dove said

Dove - posted on 05/02/2012

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He's not evil. He's a 2 year old boy. His behavior is rather normal, but it's up to his parents to help him curb that behavior. If they aren't willing to do that then it is up to you to protect your child. If you don't want to subject her to his abuse then be willing to stop hanging out with them and explain to them that you really enjoy their friendship, but that you can not handle watching your child continue to be hurt.

S. - posted on 05/02/2012

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I hate parents that think it's ok that their kid hit's I'v have been in your shoes more then I'v cared to be and it's horrible isn't it!
You can rather keep away or ignore it, Tell them to tell him off for hitting or your not coming round or when he dose hit tell him off yourself nothing major just say sternly "no hitting" if the uselss parents don't like it tell them to sort him out then as it's not fair on your girl!
You need to keep in mind the kids only doing it as the parents are letting him, it's their faults not his no child is born nasty but if no ones stopping him an teaching him it's wrong he's going to carry on.

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