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5 year old aggression. Any Non Violent tips for dealing with this?

(2 Posts)
HankeringForSun Sun 10-Feb-13 13:38:58

My 5 year old Ds is particularly aggressive towards his sister and also outside of typical sibling rivalry patterns. i.e just walks up to her and kicks her when she isn't looking, as well as when they are in conflict situations. It looks very much like bullying. He says a 100 times a day that he doesn't like her because she's stupid etc etc. It's very distressing to be around and I absolutely dread a whole day with both of them.

Whilst we try to practice NVC and How to Talk so Kids will listen, it's been really hard at times and I've certainly resorted to shouting, and verbal agression in my own moments of distress. So I am or course thinking that I started it, although we've never been a violent, slapping family. Naughty stair type of punishment or gold star reward systems don't work for us and I don't want to go this route so those suggestions aren't welcome.

I'm looking for anyone with experiences with more of a listening, empathic approach, NVC, child psychology, How to Talk, etc.

When I've asked my DS why he does this to his sister he usually just laughs, says its because he dislikes her but once he said it's because he sees her too much. This leads me to wonder if he would be best off in his own setting. They are in the same class at school as they are very close in age (another possible factor, the age gap?). Perhaps there is some intense frustration at not having enough personal space, or own personal story? He is very intellectual and it's possible that he needs more stimulation and takes his frustrations out at home?

The problem is that it happens so often and is so distressing to watch and experience (he punched me in the face earlier when I hugged when he fell) that I sometimes lash out, in word or in action, dragging him out of the room, yelling in rage, cuffing him round the head if he punches me in the face etc. This clearly doesn't help, leaves me feeling very upset. It's hardly the NVC approach that we as a family find most 'intelligent' and trying to control him with violent or threatening behaviour obviously does nothing to help him develop emotional intelligence or understanding his own feelings.

Does anyone have any tips? or experiences? My next move is to seek out advice of a psychologist but money is a bit tight so i thought I'd start with good old Mumsnet.


Kleinzeit Sun 10-Feb-13 18:40:16

I agree that separating them at school is a good idea. All the twins I know have been in different classes at school, so I don’t see why you wouldn’t separate non-twin siblings! If he’s just started school and is finding it all a bit anxious and stressful then it would only take one tactless remark from a teacher “see how nicely your sister is behaving” to create endless enmity.

My DS is an only child but when he was that age at school and nursery, if he felt frustrated and upset he would sometimes take it out on the nearest harmless innocent child who had done nothing to him at all. I wonder if your DS is using his sister in that way, as an outlet for other feelings? In which case talking about how he feels about his sister isn’t going to help much, because it really isn’t about her. You would need to separate and supervise them to keep her safe, and give him any number of repeated boring time-outs when he’s aggressive. Where the communication comes in is that you’d need also to find out why he’s so stressed and frustrated, and try to solve that. And my DS needed to be left alone to calm himself down when he was upset – having adults or other kids in his face trying make him communicate was just very bad news. When he was hurt I used to sit nearby but outside the range of flailing fists until he was calm enough to be safe!

Have you thought of trying an intermediate step before the psychologist, like a “positive parenting” group? Our local heath visitors run them free on the NHS. The quality varies, it depends if you have a good experienced leader and a nice group of parents, but I found our group very helpful when DS was 5. You probably already know about attention/ communication/ praise/ rewards/ consequences/ etc but it’s nice to have people there to discuss how to do them in a way that really works for your family.

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