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This question already has an answer here:

My son doesn't want to share anything with other kids, and if some kid even so much as touches his toy, he pushes the kid. He shouts and cries at the same time, and tries to express his anger by pushing and hitting the kid. I feel so embarrassed in front of other parents.

And when he is at home with me and doing something wrong, I try to stop him, he tries to repeat my words and shouts at me. He is copying the behavior of others, whether it's a good act or bad...

Please help me how to stop him from being a bully.

marked as duplicate by A E, Acire, anongoodnurse, Sylas Seabrook, tomjedrz Dec 12 '14 at 22:02

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    If you're into reading, there's some great advice in this book (It's OK Not to Share) about your situation. – the_lotus Dec 8 '14 at 15:33
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    squirt guns work for cats... – nathan hayfield Dec 9 '14 at 0:51
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    Hitting other children does not make your son a bully. Bullies hit (or otherwise abuse) others because they enjoy doing so, not to defend something of their own. – Dennis Dec 9 '14 at 16:53
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    Not an answer (thus a comment), but it's really important to distinguish what he's doing from bullying. Bullying is a pattern of behavior, almost always by multiple people acting as a group (but often refusing to acknowledge that they're a group), aimed at causing suffering by the target. Physical aggression when there's actual conflict with another child (like who gets to play with a toy) may be inappropriate and may be selfish, but it's not bullying, and the solutions have nothing to do with solutions to bullying. – R.. Dec 10 '14 at 0:23
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Welcome to the "Terrible Two's"!

Your son behaves typically for his age. At 2 he starts to assert himself and express his demands. It's likely that he has also learned that he gets his way when he throws a tantrum. For a 2-year old screaming, hitting or even biting is a normal way to express his anger - at least he will try and every success reinforces this. He also comes across more limitations: The more he is able to do, the more often he is stopped...

The solution? It's already in your question:

He will copy what others do.
So by all means, stay calm. No yelling, no fussing and - please! - no hitting. He has some learning (accepted behaviour like sharing) and some unlearning (no hitting or pushing) to do and needs your help.

  • When he throws a tantrum, either ignore him, or quietly remove him from the scene. Do not worry about others! Most likely they have had the same trouble with their kids or will some time ;-)
  • When he doesn't want to share yet - fine, he will learn. This can be practiced. Don't make him share, or he will resent it. Rather, teach him the benefits of sharing.
    Start with food, for example. Have a plate of cookies (or other favorite food), that's yours. He will likely demand some, but demanding doesn't get him a cookie. Asking nicely will! Explain, repeat. Then, switch roles. If he has cookies, ask him to share. If he does, praise him. Else - remind him next time when he wants your cookies that he didn't share. Share whenever possible: Having a bite from your plate, getting a piece off his. Repeat, repeat, repeat....
    Same goes for objects. Ask him to "please" share a toy, "play" with it for a short moment, then return. Say "Thank you". He learns, that he gets the toy back. Share some of your things.
    (Monitor the behaviour of other children, that want his toys - make sure they ask first and give toys back, at least during this learning stage.)

One afterthought: You have some serious work to do, but it will be sooooo worth it!

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    The other benefit is that showing this type of quiet authority will be your biggest asset as your child grows. The more your child trusts that your authority is reasonable, consistent, and in their best ingest, The easier things well be as they grow into teens. – Thorin Schmidt Dec 8 '14 at 12:45
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    Great advice. I am currently facing similar issues with my LO. We are having daily tantrums over advent chocolates ("more Santa chocolate" is demanded every hour or so). I am trying to stay calm and explain to her my reasons for not letting her have more. I'm also trying to teach her to share using the method above where I share my "things" with her (like my laptop when she wants to watch Peppa Pig on youtube) and when she has something I ask her to share it with me. I've only just started this with her, but I'm hoping it'll work. She is an only child so is not used to sharing her toys. – LauraJ Dec 8 '14 at 13:09
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    This is a terrific answer. I hate to say it but these methods are very effective on adults as well. – dotancohen Dec 8 '14 at 15:58
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    +1. This is your window of opportunity - the more consistent you are during this period, the fewer problems you'll have with them during later years. – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Dec 8 '14 at 18:25
  • A good stepping stone to "share" is "trade". You can play with my toy, but can I play with yours? Trades can be a bit uneven, and evolve into "trade without getting anything back right at that moment". – Konerak Jan 2 '15 at 7:58
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One additional viewpoint: I have a three year old who sometimes is similar (also with his younger brother), and one piece of advice I've been given that I think rings true: if he's having trouble sharing or playing with others, it may be a cry for more time or space of his own.

This is both time and space literally on his own - toys that he does not have to share, an area other kids can't go to, etc. - or more one on one time with his parents.

One thing they're dealing with at two is the concern that their toys may go away. Having some toys that are consistently their own, guaranteed not to be taken away or have to be shared, can encourage sharing further as the child feels more safe and secure with what he has. If you're going to a playgroup, bring a toy or two designated as your son's. Tell him he has to share the toys that are common (either ones you bring or are at the location you go to), but these couple of toys are just his and are not for sharing.

As far as space, it's very stressful having other children near to you at that age. You have to practice constantly behaving well, sharing, figure out how to navigate uncharted social waters, etc., and are constantly evaluated; imagine at work if you constantly had to do new things and had your boss literally watching over your shoulder, plus a bunch of your colleagues constantly trying to take your laptop away. Having some space he can retreat to is very helpful. This isn't always possible at daycare or whatnot, but if you're there and see him getting stressed, take him away from the situation and to a consistent, calm location where he can work out his anxiety.

And then, of course, more mommy or daddy time is very helpful sometimes. Knowing he's safe and secure with you can do wonders for social development. Not that he has to spend all of his time with you of course - but it may be that he needs a little more, or maybe just in these instances when he's getting stressed out.

In general, when he's having trouble, don't treat it as a situation to be punished; treat it as a chance for you to help him. So much of this difficulty is just working out his place in life and how to interact with others. Sometimes that learning is hard, and he needs a little extra time to figure things out, but he will - though it will take several years to work a lot of these issues out. That's perfectly okay. I'd rather have a rambunctious, self confident and self assured son than a child that lets others run over him: self confidence is a lot harder to teach than self control, from my experience.

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    Great explanation with the work colleagues taking your laptop. Sometimes adults forget that kids feel the same way they do. And I'm sure that if a colleague took my laptop a tantrum would ensue.. – user7678 Dec 9 '14 at 13:49
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Great advice on the other answer. Just to expand a bit.

Seems like he doesn't know how to express himself. Try to figure out why he doesn't want to share, and how to explain it properly to the other kid. "We do not push other people, I can see that you are mad/afraid. Why are you mad? Explain to the kid why you don't want to share at the moment and tell him you'll share the toy when you are done?

If his toys get confiscated often he might be more possessive.

Maybe there's a way that the two kids can play together while at the same time keeping the toy he is playing with. Kids aren't born with social skills and needs the parent help (some kid more than others). Try to do it by asking questions and not telling him what to do (yes, it's a lot of work at the beginning).

As for home, it's hard to figure out what is happening. What is he doing wrong? Is he allowed to express himself in an other way. Let's say he throws a ball in the kitchen, show him where he can throw a ball instead of just saying "don't throw the ball". Are most of your conversation about things he can't do? How about things he can do.

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This is common. My wife and I thought we were the world's best parents because our son was so well-behaved --until he turned two. Then we were ashamed to take him anywhere.

Something that really helped was finding a good preschool program. Even though my wife was at home with our son, the chance for him socialize regularly with peers was crucial.

We were also extremely fortunate to find a program that was comfortable dealing with unsocialized two-year-olds (it was actually the very school that inspired the book referred to by the_lotus!).

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