Development FAQ: 24+ months – Learning

My two-and-a-half-year-old toddler is getting too rough for comfort.

My two-and-a-half-year-old toddler is getting too rough for comfort. He is a little boy, so I always expected him to be boisterous but my fear is that it’s getting dangerous for his baby sister, who is nearly one. He is hitting, pulling and pushing and has been immune to me getting cross. Do you have any tips? I’m afraid the baby is going to get hurt…

This is a fairly common problem but you do need to nip it in the bud if you can. This type of behaviour is always more likely to happen when the toddler is hungry, tired and bored. When you see the signs looming, keep an extra close watch on your son and be ready to divert his attention when he’s about to pounce. If he does actually hit his sister, make it very clear that hitting is not allowed. Get down to his level so you have eye-to-eye contact, hold his hands so he can’t run away and say firmly, ‘Mummy doesn’t hit the baby, Daddy doesn’t hit the baby and you mustn’t hit the baby either’.

Instead of rough play, you can encourage your toddler to massage or tickle the baby’s feet. I often find that allowing a toddler to do something like creaming the baby’s feet (even if it gets a bit messy) is better than constantly saying ‘don’t touch the baby’. Then you can say something like ‘baby loves it when you touch her feet, why don’t you give them a little rub?’. Try to encourage him to be kinder to the baby by reminding him of all the nice things he has done, instead of all the naughty things. Encouragement and praise always works better than criticism and nagging.

Remember at this age there are lots of new things happening in a toddler’s life and your son needs lots of extra hugs and kisses, so he feels equally as important as the baby.