Discipline

So it's come down to this, we've reached the age of discipline. I don't know what has happened in the last few weeks, but Theo has turned a corner, and it definitely lead down a naughty(er) road. He's hitting; us and other children, throwing toys (sometimes at us and other children), pulling hair, screeching, kicking his legs when he doesn't get what he wants and just generally being a little bit unbearable.

I don't know whether its a stage he's going through where he's testing the boundaries, whether its because he's a bit of a boisterous boy, or whether this is going to be the way he is from now on (I seriously doubt the last statement, but a tiny little part of me does worry that we've made a monster...)

So far we have just been disciplining him on instinct (like most of our parenting decisions). When at home I feel that Theo hits and acts out for a reaction from us, maybe when I'm a little too tired to play, or don't want to give a horsey ride for the 600,0089th time or when we stop him doing something he shouldn't he will hit me. At times like this I think he's just trying to get and have my attention, so I try not to over react to the hitting, so just tell him no and either try a new activity with him, or take him away from the situation he's acting out over. I also try and explain that he's hurt me and it makes me sad, and then he sort of does this fake little cry and scrunches up his face and holds out his arms for a cuddle, so I'm interpreting that as him being sorry.

But recently at a few play groups he has hit a few (mainly older) children and even made them cry. He does tend to go up and just try and take toys off of other children, but to me this is something I see most children his age do. But when he hits other children I can't really just ignore it, I need to discipline him. I usually take him to one side, where it's quiet and tell him that what he did was naughty, and that he hurt the other child, and do the 'no' sign. Then we go back to the child and say sorry (well I say sorry whilst he squirms). Sometimes this works and he seems to understand, but sometimes it doesn't and straight away he'll just do it again. This happened last week and I ended up having to leave because he was misbehaving so much. I'm not sure why he was so bad at this place, because it's a group we go to every week and he's usually really good there. There were quite a few older children there that week, and it was a little bit more manic than usual (probably because it was the end of term party, and quite a few cakes had been consumed...) But from my experience older children HATE younger children. They don't like them near them, or playing with their toys. So perhaps Theo was just a bit frustrated? It's difficult when he can't really vocalize what he's feeling.

So does anyone else have the same problems, or have been through it (and come out the other side!) and have any advice? I'm not entirely sure if I'm 100% doing the right thing, and haven't read into anything yet. It's a hard one this discipline lark, and what I do now could potentially effect the way he behaves in the future.

So in other words....HELP!