The little guy has developed a little play “habit” over the last few weeks. He is walking up to another kid, or while playing with them, he is pushing them. Pushing them hard enough they fall over. Pushing them from the front or the back, sometimes chasing after them. The other little ones are usually unimpressed. The little guy is not doing this maliciously, and has a smile on his face, and does not understand if the other one gets sad.
This habit most likely came from one of the friends he plays the most with, who does not know his own strength and simply runs others over, pushes them, and falls on them. He also does not do it maliciously. And when the little guy and him do this to each other, they often fall and unless they are hurt in that fall, they find this “play” fun. It’s basically wrestling.
When the little guy pushes others, I am trying to get in there and show him how to do it instead, where he is gentle with others and hugs them or just pets them (almost like we showed him how to pet a dog). The best is if the other kid is upset and I get in there right away and show him that this is not ok, and show him a better way to interact that is more gentle, and then have him hug the other one, so they do not develop a fear of the little guy.
My friend who is the mom of the one he likely learned this behavior from thinks maybe it is not helping the little guy that her guy does not get upset when he is pushed. So the little guy is a little confused, like, “why is it ok when I push this one but not these others?” So I am trying to also teach him without the reactions from his friend, which is a little harder.
So, now on we go positively reinforcing the good behaviors, like the hugs and the soft touches, while getting right in there if he pushes or tugs at another. It offers a bit of solace to me that the little guy genuinely thinks he is playing and does not want to hurt others (this can be seen by his attempts to hug them if they are hurt, and the confusion that comes on their face if they cry). I am hoping this pushing thing will pass quickly – after all, it seems like a lot of kids go thru it.