Parenting Tips Logo
Inspired Parenting Advice Banner

Two Year Old Pushing

by Question From Mike

Story For Kids About Pushing

Story For Kids About Pushing

My 2 year old daughter has been pushing other children at her daycare facility.

She is given timeouts for her actions, but will continue the behavior almost immediately after her timeout.

How can this behavior be curtailed effectively. I appreciate your help.

Thank you.

Annie's Reply Below

Feel free to add your comments

Comments for Two Year Old Pushing

Click here to add your own comments

Pushing Two Year Old: Part One
by: Annie Desantis: Parent Coach

Hi Mike,

Great question, and you will be relieved to know a very common one! Your daughter is doing exactly what is normal for her age group, AND it means she has a strong personality that is determined not to be overlooked. Hard for you, but from my perspective FANTASTIC!

It is really difficult for a parent when their child misbehaves at daycare. And unfortunately you are not on the spot, so can't deal with it. Child care facilities simply don't have the ratio of adults to children to be able to work one on one with children for very long, and of course their duty of care means they have to protect the other children. The only way they can really manage the situation is to put her in time out.

As a parent coach I am not a big fan of time out. I would much rather look at why a child is behaving in a certain way and address the underlying cause. Of course you have to stop the hurtful actions, but time out does little to build better ways of relating. A two year simply does not have the rational capabilities to learn positive actions from time out. Yes, she knows she has done something wrong, and is aware of lots of disapproval, but it just makes her feel bad.

Being Two Years Old Can Be
VERY Frustrating!

And I would already suspect she is mad and frustrated and feels bad to start off with. We talk about the terrible twos, and I prefer to talk about the terrific twos - but it can be a time of great frustration. Their language is not developed enough to talk about how they feel or what has happened, they are very much in the moment of just reacting from how they feel without being able to think through the consequences of their behavior.

Two year old's have very little control over their life - everyone bosses them around, and when children start to feel powerless they sometimes retaliate by pushing back - and another child is a much easier target to push against. I would say she is showing you her frustration and anger. Two year old's are selfish, they are just at the stage of starting to learn about sharing and shared play. This can take quite some time to master, and punishments do little to teach better ways. It is not surprising she is simply going back and pushing the other children again - think about it, you are angry and can't explain, you react, get taken away and told you are bad, so you sit there seething and feeling more cross. Wouldn't it be easier to march back out and push the child that appears to have caused you the punishment? Why would you feel warm and fuzzy and keen to play?

Read on for Part Two of Two Year Old Pushing ....

Pushing Two Year Old: Part Two
by: Annie Desantis: Parent Coach

What Is Happening In Her World?

I would think carefully about what is happening in her world:

  • Is daycare a fairly new routine for her? Is she angry at being left at daycare? Have her hours increased? Is there a new teacher? Has she moved up to a different group and lost a secure relationship with another teacher?

  • Has a new sibling appeared in the family? We often chose a two year gap to have another baby, but that is the worst time developmentally for a young child to accept a brother or sister. Think about it, how would you like it if your wife said, honey, I love you so much I thought I'd get another husband. Sounds silly but that is what we are expecting a two year old to be happy with!

  • Has anything changed at home, moved house, new bedroom, financial pressures, grandparent ill or other family stresses?

  • What are the routines like in her day? A two year old's life may be filled with don't touch, hurry up, no you can't wear that, eat now, no cookies ....... is it any wonder one of the early words they learn is NO?

  • What happens when she is picked up from daycare? The teacher reports on the bad behavior, Mom or Dad is then disapproving and cross (and probably embarrassed at having a less than perfect child!). After several such reports you are probably already focusing on that when you drop her off and pick her up. So you are actually contributing to the situation but fueling it.

  • Read on for Part Three of Two Year Old Pushing ...

Pushing Two Year Old, Part Three
by: Annie Desantis: Parent Coach

What Can You Do?

YOU can't deal with the pushing unless you see it happen. Don't reinforce it by re-hashing it at home. She already feels bad, and telling her you are cross makes it worse. All she will be learning is how to get negative attention.

Set up situations at home where she is learning to interact with other children. If she does it at home, THEN you can deal with it on the spot. Don't make a big deal out of it, but stop her hurting the other child. Don't be angry, just keep calm. It takes a while to learn social skills and we don't learn to self monitor if we are complying through fear.

Try to help her to verbalize what she is doing: "Are you cross? Are you mad about something?" "Maybe we need to sit over here together for a few minutes while you calm down."

Has she been expected to share a toy when she simply wasn't ready to - why should she? Would you tell your neighbors they can come and help themselves to your DVDs? We expect things of kids that often aren't logical.

If she is having trouble sharing you can ask, "which toy can Michael play with?" or "what game could we all play together?" Kids learn so much faster if it a game.

Help her see a win win in the situation, instead of just complying because you have the power to force her. Kids get sneaky if they are forced to comply. Make up sharing, and taking turn games, that are quick and fun, but don't try to force it. She will learn by watching you too - play games as a family. Simon Said is a good one - take turns and verbalize "it's Mommy's turn now."

Show her how to be gentle - you can play games with toys and pretend to be a bit rough. Teddy cries Ow, he hurt me! Then show her how to be gentle, "sorry Teddy, I'll try to be more gentle."

Give her Lots and Lots of good quality 1 on 1 attention. She may get activities at daycare, kids to interact with, and hopefully loving adults, but no daycare can take the place of One to One parent interaction. Lots of games, stories, silly time. Build positive experiences with her.

Taking Care Of Her Physical Needs

Make sure she is getting enough sleep. Kids often have to be woken early to get ready in time for child-care and are simply exhausted. A grumpy, tired or hungry child is not so likely to behave well.

What are the routines at daycare? Many have set times for eating, and sleeping. A child who has been woken, rushed out the door, didn't eat much breakfast, and then has to wait until 10-30 before a snack may simply be hungry. It is very difficult at a daycare to work around the needs of every tiny body. Unfortunately children are not taught to listen to their bodies and eat and sleep when they need.

Don't feel bad as a parent because you happen to have the child that pushes, and definitely don't make her feel bad. She is simply exploring normal learning curves for her age.

Have fun,
Annie D

Thank You!
by: Anonymous

Annie D,
Thank you for your reply! I am having this issue with my son in daycare and your response made me feel so much better!

Thank you so much
by: Anonymous

I have a 2 and a half year old who is loving and caring, intelligent and polite yet in indoor play areas can become pushy and impatient with other children, particularly younger ones.

Today the father of a child my son pushed was extremely aggressive and screamed at my son that he was 'a little s***' and was equally abusive and foul to me.

Despite being in a state of shock I managed to tell this man that his actions were despicable and had the support of all onlookers. I've spent the rest of the day in and out of tears feeling like the worst mother in the world but your reply above has helped me get things into perspective.

My child will have stopped pushing others just as this mans poor daughter uses her first swear words.

Whew! Who needs time out?
by: Annie Desantis

Dad does!
Wow, this Dad has over-reacted big time. Of course we hate seeing our kids get hurt (feelings or physically pushed) by another child, but his reaction was totally inappropriate, and did nothing to help any of the children learn from the situation. In fact he has contributed so much negative energy to the whole situation in lots of ways.

Very sad that his child will simply learn to react aggressively back, and of course learning to swear and be abusive to solve problems. I only hope the poor child does not get punished for swearing!

It is so hard as a Mom - or Dad not to feel bad when your child has done something hurtful - but you are NOT a bad Mom. Quite the contrary, you are a wonderful Mom.

Your son is likely a child that feels a bit crowded physically with indoor activities when kids are crowding around, and when he starts to feel a bit invaded, and his frustration levels rise, pushing others away gives him some breathing space. He will learn to find his own physical space in better ways in time - or he will learn to tolerate more bodies up close!

So dry your tears, and go and cuddle that lovely little boy of yours!

Annie D

2 yr old pushing
by: Anonymous

Today I found out that my 2yr old has been pushing other children in her Sunday school class-which has been happening more than once, it was revealed when she did it right before my eyes. I didn't know that she was doing this at all and I felt like such a horrible mother but I'm glad to have read this as I was overreacting but I kept mentioning it to her and she was feeling bad. I have also seen the error of my ways.

This is such a great website. Thank you for the info, it's helps me as a first time parent know what to expect, look for in my child and how to react. :-)

4 Year Old Pushing...
by: Sandy

Thanks for your article. It helps me know I'm not alone - although, my child is 4 and not 2.

Granted, mine has Down syndrome and things sometimes surface later and last a lot longer. We've been dealing with this phase for a little while now and unfortunately, I just don't think she understands what she is doing wrong - despite the many conversations, pictures, etc.

Nor, does she seem to be doing it in a hurtful or negative expressive way. We feel it might be slight attention getting, but at other times it seems out of excitement, or maybe mimicking somethings he saw elsewhere.

Luckily, her daycare is working with us to help her and we've started incorporating some of your ideas (okay... before I read them, but they are good!).

We've set up some play dates and are talking to her about the action when it happens. I mostly feel bad for the other child who doesn't understand why they are getting pushed and mine doesn't seem to understand why she is pushing.

I think it must be frustrating no matter what side of the push you are on. I am looking for good picture books that I can read to her to help her understand how to behave in a socially acceptable manner. I've found "No Biting" by Karen Katz, but was hoping for something a bit more.

Any suggestions?

Story Books To Help Teach Good Social Behavior
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Sandy,
Thanks for your comments. Using story books is a great way to help children learn more appropriate ways of relating, without being so confrontational about their own mistakes. When we ask our kids why they did something they usually have no idea, and just feel bad or defensive.

Your idea of helping your child to be more aware of better ways of behaving by using books is a really good one.

Karen Katz has a lot of books about behavior, though not specifically pushing that I know of. No Hitting is another of hers that is a good one.

Joy Berry is another author who specializes in children's books on good behavior. Joy has been an educator for many years and has developed behavior management programs for teachers.

Lively Elizabeth!: What Happens When You Push is a good kids story book about the consequences of pushing. So very targeted to this issue.

More to Follow . . .

More Books To Help Teach Good Social Behavior
by: Annie Desantis

David Shannon is another author who writes a lot of children's books about a boy called David who gets into all sorts of trouble.

Based on himself and his childhood they are great stories with cute illustrations that kids can identify with.

Millie Fierce by Jane Manning is a great kids story about a little girl who is usually very quiet and meek, but one day decides to get mad!

The story explores the consequences of her change of behavior - also valuing that sometimes being able to draw on her strength is a good thing.

Julia Cook is also an author I would recommend with some lovely, funny stories to help children learn to control their feelings and react more appropriately.

Hope these give you some ideas, your local library may well have copies of many of these books/authors.

Pushing NEW
by: Anonymous

2 1/2 year old pushes from time to time. When she does something wrong she tell you right away. When she does something wrong she asks...Are you happy? She always gets an explanation of why we are not happy. And a discussion on how would you feel if someone pushed you! On a verbal level she understands but on an emotional level....she still pushes if she doesn't want to share or if it is someone else's turn and she wants a turn. She will put herself on time out but laughs and it is a game for her. When she is with me, we stop, talk about what happens and how she feels and that we share and take turns. There is enough for everyone and she will get lots of turns but must be patient. She is starting to get it. When I tell her that she has to look the child in the eyes and say she is sorry or we will leave the activity without finishing what we are doing, she only apologizes so she can stay. I'll continue my approach unless you have better suggestions. Thanks!

Click here to add your own comments

Do you have a question or want to send a submission to Annie? Simply click here to return to Toddler Development Questions.

Problem Solving 4 Kids
Only $12.99

Problem Solving 4 Kids E-book

Learn my 7 Step Problem Solving 4 Kids Process
A step by step guide to teach your kids to be solution orientated.


  • Tips
  • Updates
  • Your Stories
  • Competitions
  • Questions Answered

My Subscribers Get Freebies!

Let me know how I can support you to be an Awesome Parent!

Featured Sponsor

Click N Kids would have to be one of my subscribers most popular programs, and from what they say, it is mostly because the kids have fun while they are learning. In fact they don't even realize they are learning! Click N kids are using the Looney Tune Characters now in their phonics program, which of course kids just love.


Home Page

Free Newsletter


Resources 4 Parents

Ask Annie
Parenting Questions

Tools 4 Parents


Parenting Tips


Child Education

Child Development

Parenting Styles

Activities For Kids

Art Activities 4 Kids

Best Educational Toys

Annie Desantis

Who is Annie D?

Parenting Coach


Terms & Conditions
Privacy & Cookies

Legal Stuff

[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines

Free Parenting Games
One of the best Parenting Tips we can offer is:

Free Family Games

Our Parenting Games Series are designed to support you to be an Inspirational Parent.

Featured Sponsor

Best Educational Toys and Games

Hearthsong brings magic into childhood with their stunning range of amazing toys, games, and activities. I've found things here I've not seen anywhere else. They even have a gift registry, which is a great idea for Christmas or birthdays.

Hearthsong are very generously offering my readers a 10% discount off orders over $50. Use coupon code: LNK10HS

Please note the 10% discount is not available on the deal of the week items - these already have HUGE discounts.

Free Book
Allowance Secrets
I was honoured to be included as one of the experts in this helpful book. Some great advice and ideas for teaching children about money.

Super Skills 4 Kids Home Study Course

Return to top | Home | General Enquiries | Ask Annie Parenting Questions
Free Parenting Newsletter | Free Parenting Games | Contests
Super Skills 4 Kids | EFT 4 Kids Program | Affiliate Program

      Copyright © 2008 - 2014 Inspired Parenting      Template Design