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How to Navigate the Challenges of a 2-Year-Old Toddler and an 11-Month-Old Baby


We have a 2-year-old toddler and an 11-month-old baby. Our toddler is incredibly rough with the baby. He is constantly trying to yank on her limbs, hit, push her over, take things from her, etc. It's getting to the point where I'm constantly trying to keep them separated. Even when my husband gets home, we sometimes have to spend our evenings in separate rooms, each of us with one kid.

It isn't just his sister that he is rough with – it's really with any kid. Taking him out to places like the library, children's museum, etc., often ends early because he can't be nice to the other kids. We give him a lot of one-on-one attention and he gets to do special activities when our baby needs extra attention (like when I'm feeding her). But none of that seems to matter. I don't understand why he is so aggressive toward other kids and nothing I do seems to help. I'm constantly worried for our baby's safety and I feel like it's affecting her development because she can't play with her toys or be down on the ground practicing crawling/walking when he's around. When it's just me and our toddler, he's a completely different child. But when I take him out, or there are other kids around, he transforms. What can I do?​


We are so glad you are reaching out for support. It sounds like it is getting to be a concern regarding your toddler being rough and hurting his sibling and other children. This can be challenging because you want to make sure your toddler is kind to others, and you also want to make sure other children are safe. Many times, toddlers use aggression because they have difficulty expressing themselves. They use hitting, biting, etc., to express feelings. 

So, it may be beneficial finding ways to teach your toddler to express feelings such as frustration, anger, boredom and helplessness by possibly giving them pictures to point to that show what they feel. This can help them express themselves rather than lash out at someone. It will help understand their own feelings and you can then provide them with expectations when they feel this way. You can say, 'I understand you are frustrated, but I expect you to be kind and not hurt others. It is ok to have feelings, but it isn't ok to hurt others.' Finally, providing a way to make the situation better by sharing a toy, or saying they are sorry, helps them cope with the problem.      

With every step toward positive change, you can give him a positive reward. Try praise, special time with a toy or extra time with mom, etc. The process will be a teaching path so your toddler can learn that instead of being aggressive, he can express himself in other ways. And there are also ways to make amends if they do express anger to others.     

Positive reinforcements can be a good way to solidify change in his behavior. You are doing a good job reaching out and looking for ways to curb this behavior. Being mindful of what is going on before the behavior and being in the moment to teach is going to be effective. Your toddler is his own little person and if you feel it is getting to be more difficult for your family, it would be a good idea to seek out a child therapist or speak with his pediatrician for some other suggestions on what may be helpful.   

If you need any referrals or more support, we are here for you.   We also have a great website that you can check out at You can also call our hotline and speak with a counselor anytime.