Playground aggression

Hugo on the rock wall

NOT king of the mountain

More Mommy embarrassment when I took Hugo to the playground on Tuesday. It was pretty crowded and I confess I was distracted by a phone call. I hadn’t spoken with my mom in almost a week, including her birthday, so I picked up when she called. Hugo was at the top of the rock wall when another boy approached him. He was at least 3 and much bigger than Hugo. The next thing I knew the boy was flying through the air, landed expertly on his feet and burst into tears. Hugo had pushed him off the wall.

I was shocked. I scolded Hugo but he looked defiant. I apologized profusely to the mom of the boy who graciously kept telling me it was OK. There were two subsequent incidents with more embarrassment, especially when I told a little boy that Hugo had pushed that he doesn’t know any better and his dad answered, “oh, he knows.”


I may be inexperienced, but I’m not anti-discipline. I didn’t want to implement anything harsh that wasn’t effective or that Hugo wouldn’t understand. I tried redirection, or positive reinforcement (though I could do better with this). So what about timeouts? Hugo talks about timeouts at school though his teacher assured me that he doesn’t misbehave or ever act aggressively there. He notices when other kids are punished and wants to avoid it.

After Tuesday, my husband and I agreed to put Hugo in timeout for hitting or pushing other kids, or us. Daddy play fights with Hugo so I have been reluctant to punish him for hitting when he may have thought it was play time. But Hugo hits Daddy when he gets jealous because I’m touching him or hugging him. There have been two timeouts since we put the new rule into effect.

In a half hour I’m taking Hugo to Bounce U for some indoor playtime. We’re going to have a talk before he goes in so he knows any pushing or hitting will result in a timeout, and three strikes means we leave. It seems to be pretty effective so far. I hope I wasn’t being silly by trying other things before now.


23 thoughts on “Playground aggression

  1. Gosh, you weren’t silly at all! Parenthood is all about trial and error. Trust me, all kids are so different. Time outs work wonders with some kids, but not at all with others. The one big lesson I have learned from being a mom of my first, defiant, strong willed kid, is that sometimes you have to do something 200 times before they get it. Other kids are easier. It’s all good, mama!


  2. Every kid responds differently to different things which I think others have echoed here! I always made my kids apologize to the person they affected no matter their speech capability! I know this seems like not much of a punishment but I think it did help them understand that they did something wrong!


  3. My 18 month old has started flapping his hands perilously close to other children when he wants something they’ve got / they take something they have, so will be interested to hear how you get on.


  4. Live and learn! Parenting is completely trial and error sometimes our own, sometimes other people’s. We just have to get up, dust ourselves off, and try again. My kids are all teenagers and I’m still trying to figure it out!


  5. It’s great that you are taking the time to see what he responds to and how best to handle his behavior. 🙂 You’re doing a great job!


  6. Pingback: It’s easier just to stay home | Long Live Go

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