Max has a friend named Micah. Micah is happy and bright and easy going. And he is so cute. But Max can't control himself when he's around Micah. He pulls his hair, knocks him down, pulls his clothes, pinches his skin and wrestles him to the ground. He does this to no one else. And I sincerely believe that he likes Micah very much. I cannot explain this behavior. Max is not spanked and he has no exposure to aggressive behavior. Max is about 3 months higher up on the food chain than Micah and, certainly, there is a pecking order amongst toddlers, but I don't think this is explanation enough . Here is an example of the terrorism my child inflicts upon this sweet little soul:
Upon approaching a tearful Micah, looking desperately for his mommy...
Micah's mom: "What happened"?
Witnessing mom: "I don't know. The two of them were just running around together."
Micah's mom: (laughing) "Oh, you mean Max was CHASING Micah."
Me: "Yup, that sounds more like it." (shaking my head)
Witnessing mom: "No, I think they were having fun."
Me: "Sounds like MAX was having fun."
Micah's mom: "Micah probably started crying because he couldn't find me, to save him from Max." (now comforting her little guy)
In this case Max hadn't even put aggressive little hands on Micah. It was simply a case of terrorism by chasing. In the scheme of things, a manageable situation. But what about the next time? I tell Max to be nice to Micah. "Niiiiiiiiiice Micah," I say, similarly to how I teach him to handle our dogs more gently.
Max is Micah's own, personal, bully and I would really like to see little Micah put him in his place. This is the nature of toddler friendship. Their politics are rudimentary and primal, at best. Max is still, developmentally, too young for empathy. For now, all I can do is keep a close eye on their interactions and protect Micah...Max's friend.