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How to discipline 2.5yo that's being pretty mean to new sibling? Help(11 Posts)
Ds1 is 2.5 years old. Has always been a beautifully behaved well mannered boy.
Ds2 arrived 8 weeks ago and we couldn't believe how lovely ds1 was towards him. Forever cuddling and kissing him. Excited to wake up in the morning to see him.
However for the last week and a bit everything has changed. It started out with nursery saying that he was spending much of his days there crying bit not saying why. We left him in 2 days a week because he absolutely loves it there and I'll be back at work before long too so didn't seem worth pulling him entirely. He has lots of friends there and we have never ever had any issues with him going.
Then at home he started being very resistant to everything. Throwing his dinner, telling me and dh to stop talking, shouting at us if we can't do something immediately there and then.
And now it's started with his baby brother. I can't turn my back for a second. He will pinch him, poke him, pull him off his playmat by his legs. At first he was quite discreet but now he doesn't care if we watch him or not and when we say "no dont do that you will hurt him!" He laughs and carries on till we physically remove him.
We've tried everything to ensure he never felt like this. We have had my mum look after Ds2 so we could take ds1 on days out alone, we always put Ds2 in moses basket in bedroom at ds1 bedtime so he doesn't feel like he's the only one going to bed. Ds2 is very chilled and sleeps most of the day do its not like he's a demanding baby. Weekends are spent playing games with ds1 or taking him to soft play or to see friends with young kids.
I feel like we tried our hardest and now I'm stuck with a toddler who appears to hate his brother and I'm terrified he'll hurt him
I've never been a shouty mum but I'm getting to that point now although I know it probably won't help! I really don't know how to deal with him.
Please help? !
This ime is not a problem you can discipline away. This little lad has had his world turned upside down, he is at an age where he hasn't got the capacity to talk to you about it, and all he can do is cry and lash out.
Yes, he was lovely in the first few weeks and that was very sweet. Now he is realising that his little brother is never going to go away and that this is impacting his life every single day. Of course he is upset.
Your job is to make him see that there is still enough Mummy there for him. This really, really isn't the time to lose your patience and shout at him: he will see this as another horrible change that started with the coming of little brother. Nor should he be punished for being upset.
Instead you need to make time to reassure him. Make him feel he is still the most important thing in the world to you (and you don't need to mention, just yet, that little brother is too ). Often a small baby can wait, but a toddler can't. Let him come first if you can. When you are feeding baby brother, try to make it big brother's special time: read him a story, talk to him.
As for the hitting, again afraid that's your job to sort. Just never leave them alone together, take him with you wherever you go, manoeuvre so there is a pleasant reason why you are between him and baby brother.
My dd was quite a bit older- 3.5- when her brother was born, but we had very similar issues. I did the above and also put a hook (safer than a lock) on ds' door, above her reach, so I could shut him in safely (he didn't know and didn't care) when I needed to go to the loo.
Another thing that helped was devising a game that was primarily about amusing dd, but where baby ds had a small part: the bed became a car and baby brother was the driver (lying flat on his back and waving hands in the air) who took us off to all these wonderful places that dd chose. We bonded during those car drives, the three of us.
And go out, as often as you can. Fresh air and exercise make toddlers less crabby.
This will pass. My dc grew up firm friends. It was worth every scrap of patience I could muster in those early weeks.
Discipline isn't going to help right now.
Gaining a sibling is like your spouse bringing home a second wife/husband. He can't articulate how he feels - insecurity, jealousy and anger are hard to explain even for older people.
The sibling jealousy aside, it's very common for older siblings to regress when younger siblings arrive. My daughter suddenly forgot how to get changed/unchanged and had been doing it for at least 6 months before her brother arrived.
He needs lots of love, understanding and patience right now. Yes, you're going to have to do stuff like take one boy with you when you go to the loo so the baby isn't hurt. It will get better when the baby is more interactive and your older child isn't as threatened by him.
Often a small baby can wait, but a toddler can't and call out to the baby as though they understand.
"You'll have to wait for a minute baby, big brother needs a drink first"
That's entirely for big brother to know that sometimes he came first.
With dc3 I used to find that sometimes he'd gone to sleep while I was just quickly getting something for the older two.
Thanks all. Your advice does make perfect sense.
What would you do in the situation where he purposely hits his brother? I can separate them but inevitably there are occasions where he can reach him.
How would you react to that
A firm no, perhaps accompanied by a milder "gentle hands" and a demonstration. Move him away. He's too little for complicated systems of punishment. Try to avoid shouting or losing control: it's a time of upheaval and seeing you calm (but firm) will reassure him.
You can also try and acknowledge his feelings. Something along the lines of "you love him, but sometimes wish he wasn't here". Let him know his feelings are valid, but that it is not ok to hurt his brother. I also used to give DS1 a big cuddle afterwards. It is one of those situations when more love is needed not less.
If you have a travel cot they can each spend time in it separately so the older one can't get at the younger one. Although the older one could throw toys in at the younger one if he thinks of it.
Okay thanks again. Trying really hard to implement all of this.
Today was going much better until ds1 bit Ds2 on his leg during a feed. Ds2 cried a lot. No blood but teeth marks were left.
Honestly broke my heart. Dh (who is very much on my page) just literally said nothing and escorted him out of the room and into the dining room and we just didn't speak to him for a while and vice versa.
To be honest I was that angry if I had have spoken I woukd have 100% gone crazy.
He knew he had done something very wrong as we never dont talk to him. He was quite sheepish then so I gave him a big cuddle and told him how loved he is.
I followed advice read on another thread and after dinner ds1 was given a little pack of smarties that "ds1 had chosen out for him as a treat".
He was very happy and went and gave Ds2 a kiss.
Was relieved that the day ended better however can't help but feel like I'm rewarding / ignoring bad behaviour! Arrhhh it's so hard.
The thing is at 2.5 years old he is just at the very early stages of learning about his feelings and how to manage them. There is always reason behind any misbehaviour and essentially it is his way of telling you he needs help. He has had you all to himself up until this point and now he has to share and there will be a fear that he has lost his special place. It is not true, but he will need lots of reassurance.
I remember feeding being a trigger for us too (DS1 used to scratch DS2). I realised it was because all he saw was DS2 having a cuddle, taking his place, not this has to happen for DS2 to eat! It takes time, but you will get there.
Another thing I found helpful was to refer to DS1 as my baby too and say things like "you'll always be my baby". He also went through a stage of playing "Baby DS1" and pretend to feed, being rocked to sleep etc. We also looked through his baby photos and l talked to him about how he was as a baby and how proud I was that he was now a toddler and all the things that he could now do etc.
OP, don't worry about rewarding bad behaviour: parenting is a lot more complex than a simple x = y. Sometimes you do things that seem counter-intuitive because they work.
Most of what I know about parenting I learnt from watching my very wise and very experienced mother parenting my youngest sibling, who was affected all his childhood by adoption trauma. She was not a lax parent in any way, she insisted on good manners as soon as he was old enough, but she was also wise enough to recognise that some of his issues, some of his behaviour, simply stood outside of the usual good behaviour/bad behaviour scheme.
Biting feels horrible, but it is very, very common in children his age.
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