Playing rough

Expert advice on how to get your baby to play nice with other kids

Q: Our 10-month-old loves other kids, but is extremely rough with them. He crawls toward them with a smile and a squeal of excitement, but ends up scratching, pinching or pulling their hair. He’s big for his age and everyone says he just doesn’t know his own strength. We are worried that he’ll grow up to be aggressive and mean unless we do something now. How can we show him how to play with other kids?

A: Generally, children this age like to be in a room with other kids, but tend to play individually. Your son may not even see that these other children are just like him. He isn’t trying to hurt anyone; he really doesn’t know his own strength. He takes his cues from you, so model appropriate play behaviour for him. Stay beside him when he’s about to join another child. As he reaches out, gently guide his hand to demonstrate how to touch without hurting.

When you’re alone with him, practise having him pat your hair softly. Your pleasure and smile will help him understand. Use toys to teach him the meaning of the word gentle. Handle a favourite toy carefully, then hand it to him and guide him to use it the same way. Large children need to learn how to control their bodies so they don’t inadvertently hurt others. As he gets older, tell him that he’s bigger and stronger, and needs to be careful. You need to make him aware of his own strength.