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Mental Health

My 2 and a Half Year Old is Getting Violent.



My child is starting to get more violent than usual. She flips this 3 year old over jumps on her chest and starts beating her up. I am babysitting for my friend and she has two kids. 3year old and an 11th month old. I have to tell her that I can not watch her children anymore because my child tried to push her down the stairs. She bites herself and others. She pintches, slaps, and kicks people for no reason sometimes. I need help I don`t know what to do anymore.


You do most definitely need help as does your dear child. Her behavior is far beyond anything that is in the range of normal for her age. The problem may be that she is hearing impaired or has a developmental delay. Some children appear to need a high level of contact and sensation of all types to actually feel them. That may be a part of the problem. When you say "more violent than usual" I suspect that means her roughness with others has been going on for a while and now it is worsening. That is a clear signal that it is time for help, just as you are recognizing. I strongly recommend that you take her to see a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at your nearest children's medical center. Hopefully she is receiving regular wellness care at a pediatric office. Her doctor should be able to refer you to a good specialist. If you do not have access to a pediatrician, call the general number at the nearest children's medical center and ask for the developmental and behavioral clinic to make an appointment. This type of pediatrican will do a thorough history and physical and order specialized testing. It may take several appointments for testing beyond the doctor visit to get all of the information together to decide what the problem is and how best to help you both. I don't know what you have already tried in terms of dicsipline and limit setting. She definitely needs for you to stop her assaults on other children, remind her of the rules against hurting others, some time out - about 3 minutes or one minute for each year of age. Compliment her when she is doing the right things and playing nicely - don't overdo it, just confirm warmly that she is doing a great job playing well. Also, when she hurts another child, give that child attention and ignore her until the other child is taken care of. Then retunr to her to review the rules about behavior and place her in time out. This means sitting in a boring place with no attention for the specified period of time. If she does not have a regular schedule for sleep, play, and eating, then now is the time to get her on a routine for all aspects of her day with you. It helps her to know what to expect. Make sure she is getting plenty of sleep and goes to bed by 8 PM at the latest. Not getting enough sleep really worsens behavior in young children. Help her get ready for a good night's sleep by having a calm time after dinner - no vigorous play. A bath and story are a good way to go, then bed. Eliminating all TV viewing and videos that contain violent behavior also helps. Research shows that children who watch violent content reenact it in their play. Keep her books focused on getting along with others and avoid anything with a violent or negative theme. You may already be doing all of these things. I just don't know a lot about what you are already doing. I hope that you are able to quickly get in to see a good developmental pediatrician. Parenting is a hard job and all of us need a helping hand at times. I hope this is helpful.

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University