Of all the disturbing behavioural traits my son has developed over the last little while (among them, fingers up the nose, holding onto his willy for dear life when he finds himself naked, eating stones), the one I have real concerns about is his sudden use of physical violence to express his anger, fear or just general unhappiness with the current situation.
Also rather worryingly, instead of it always being an expression of negative emotion, there are occasions when he positively revels in it.
Sometimes he comes at me, arms flailing, and for no apparent reason (this is usually when I'm sitting on the floor with him playing), he'll start hitting me in the face with the flat of his hand. My shouts of "Ow, that hurts, Oscar!" are met with a cheeky giggle, and renewed attempts to rain further blows.
I've even caught him thumping our long-suffering cat, who is generally fleet of foot enough to keep out of his way. Alas, her guard is down when she's waiting to be let out the back door, and although I don't think the heavy 'pats' he gives her are that hard (she's also pretty good at flattening herself to the floor, like a woodlouse), he gets very excited while he's doing it and squeals delightedly.
Other times, despite my initial attempts to distract followed by remonstrations to stop what he is doing, I'll have resorted to picking him up to take him away from a situation where he was behaving anti-socially or dangerously (throwing dirt out of flower pots, opening kitchen cupboards and pulling out crockery, poising himself to step off a flight of steps into the void). He will kick and flail, pull my hair and try very hard to twist my nose off my face.
Some days, I'll be putting him in his cot for his afternoon nap, and he'll repeat his nose-mashing move, mixing it in with a bit of ear twisting and eye gouging for good measure. So it's no surprise that my attempts to put him in his car seat, or, the worst of all, into his stroller, necessitate Olympian style wrestling matches accompanied by grunts (me) and screams of anger and frustration (him).
I'm sure that he will probably grow out of it, he's a new toddler and toddlers love to push the boundaries. But I'm so worried I'm getting it wrong in dealing with it.
Have I given birth to a psycho, who delights in the pain of others? I wonder to myself in the dead of night, worrying at the issue. Is it something we have done, to make him behave this way? Or am I reacting the wrong way, making it worse?
The problem is that sometimes, such as when he's tried to rip my bottom lip away from my face, I can get really really cross with him. I never really lived the concept of literally seeing red until now.
Of course I've managed to keep it together enough not to do anything bad to him, but my goodness I have yelled. Never has the strategy of counting to 10 and taking a deep breath been so useful.
But it's so hard to stay angry with him, he really doesn't mean it, I know. And he can be so gentle and loving at times, I know he has it in him, he just needs to learn some self control – something we need to teach him. Oh, what to do!
Does your toddler lash out when they are angry? What about laughing when hitting?
Any suggestions on how to deal with it gratefully received.