My child recently turned 4 late this summer. We've noticed he has been more aggressive lately.
Background: I've pretend wrestled, boxed, and sword fought with my child before his third birthday. I started to see signs of him testing his limits outside of our pretend plays; one thing he would do is rush at me for a take down without warning or punch or kick my wife out of nowhere. I told him he can only display these behaviors when we're rough-housing. If someone bites, pinches, hair-pulls, punches, or kicks him after he warns them, and if an adult is present, to let them know; if that child hits him again, he can defend himself. So far, there have been no known cases of him harming another child at the daycare on campus at the University. They are very strict about children being physical.
At home, he is different. He continues to his aggression. My wife and I have come to the conclusion that it might be because he has too much energy. In his first three years, we did outdoor activities everyday since we were able to have enough savings to care for him for those years. Afterward, we are now back full-time working or studying. Monday to Friday, he stays at daycare from 8 AM to 5 PM. From 5 PM to 9:30 PM, we dedicate quality time with him since work or homework stays at the workplace or school; we finish before we pick him up at the daycare.
When he rushes, jabs, or kicks us, I tell him to stop in a calm demeanor that carries disappointment and he knows what he did is inappropriate. Wife raises her voice at him which I remind her sometimes that that's not necessary because he laughs when she reprimands him. We tell him that it's disrespectful and he needs to stop doing it. We follow that with different ways he can vent his energy. He tells us he's sorry for his action and lets us know next time, he will stop, breath, walk away, and then he will feel better. Later that day or the next, he does it again. Either we are not getting through to him or he is at an age where he wants to see how far he can push our limit. We stay consistent each time for the last few months that this have gotten to be a daily thing.
One thing that has worked is when we take him outdoors like how we used to, he gets all his energy out of his system. He wakes up for a nap, we take him out again because he is full of energy and loves the outdoors. We work/study full-time so it's a challenge to do outdoors on weekdays.
Sometimes we feel we need to get a TV, cable television, and allow him to watch movies. Other times we feel he should be able to play his tablet more than two hours per week on the weekends.
Is him testing how far he can take his actions a sign of his developmental stage or are we not doing enough? We are not doing something right, what can we do to help him control his actions? Are we going at it the wrong way?