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Three year old extremely aggressive with 14 month old(5 Posts)
Hi everyone! This is my first post here, and I'm posting because I'm at a complete loss for how to handle my three year old. He is VERY aggressive with his 14 month old brother, to the point where I am concerned he has or will seriously injury him. Yesterday he pushed him face first into a corner and bruised his chin. Today he pushed him extremely hard into a door and bumped the back of his head. He also throws toys, hits and occasionally bites as well. All these episodes occur when I am actively watching but unable to intervene quickly enough. I absolutely never leave them alone as I am terrified of what could happen.
I've tried everything I can think (and everything the parenting "experts" online say) to stop these outburst. I talk to him and tell him that it's okay to be angry, but we don't hit and push, if he's angry he can hit the couch or a pillow. I've tried throwing toys away (he doesn't care). I've tried light spankings (no effect, except for making me feel like a terrible mother). Hmmm.. oh, I've also tried ignoring the behavior completely, comforting the hurt child and redirecting the activity. NOTHING works and this behavior is only getting worse. Oh, and I should add these incidents happen upwards of 5 times per day. I can usually prevent most of the hits, pushes, throws, ect. but it is exhausting constantly monitoring them, and never knowing when an angry outburst will happen.
I'm seriously considering scheduling an appointment with a child psychologist because this can't be normal sibling rivalry, can it? I am an only child and have little experience with how siblings interact, but this behavior is extremely upsetting for me and my husband. I feel like a lousy mother, especially since my younger son keeps getting hurt and I cannot always prevent it. Any advice or input is much appreciated, as I am willing to try anything to get this behavior to stop. Thanks in advance.
Have you asked health visitor? Does he go to nursery, and if so how is he there?
I think it's probably a short term problem, in that he'll grow out of it and you just need to be really vigilant until he does.
You may need to check he is getting enough attention from you and isn't jealous of little bro. Can you organise your days and time so he gets extra one to one time, and no opportunity to hurt DS2? Do you have family who can help?
Do you make sure you have 1-1 time with older child when DC2 is napping/in bed? Sounds like jealousy. I would also over the top praise him for anything he does well with DS2 "oh what a brilliant big brother you are letting him get that" etc or get him to role model goid behaviour, eg at meal time saying to DS2 "oh, isn't DS1 such a good boy eating his lunch so nicely, can you do that too?" Ie DS1 is getting praised through DS2.
As for the hitting etc I would use a time out for DS1 to calm down, then redirect play, praising for any and all positive interactions. Hurting behaviour is dealt with minimally, eg. "We do not hit". Place in time out, 3 mins later explain what he did wrong, get him to apologise and come back to play.
You aren't failing your boys. Firstly you are acting to protect DS2 and doing the right thing being watchful and not leaving them alone together. As DC2 gets stronger he will give as good as he gets.
Secondly you recognise your firstborn is upset and is acting on impulse. There is an old saying, your child is not just giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time. This is an upsetting phase but absolutely normal, you won't be judged if your tell your health visitor.
I am sure you try and share attention equally, sometimes you can make DS1 feel reassured by telling your youngest, "You’ll have to wait a moment while I help X put his pyjamas on" or very obviously praising him to someone else while he's nearby so he hears a positive message.
From the moment each child's day starts, be sure to praise his good behaviour and remind him how much you love him with cuddles.
Is it possible to take both out every day for a change of scene? Burning off some energy will do them both good. picklemepopcorn asked about nursery. Is he attending one? Don't worry about him thinking he is being banished, he will have lots to do and children his own age to play with, the staff will monitor behaviour and will tell you how he copes. Meanwhile you will have extra time to spend with your youngest.
At home, next time you sense he is about to boil over give him a cautionary warning. Get down to his level physically when you talk to him, keep your voice calm and really listen to what he says.
If he persists or lashes out then comfort his brother, and immediately remove your eldest from the room or if you are away from home, stop whatever activity and take them to one side.
Fwiw my thinking on admonishing DS1 physically is this, he is acting on impulse against his little brother so even a little tap or spank from you during a telling off is signalling it's all right for bigger person to hit a smaller person.
It doesn't seem to have stopped him anyway. He is little more than a baby himself and still has trouble controlling his emotions.
Instead of removing several of the toys which does not always have much impact, pick one and put it in a "naughty box" for the rest of the day. He can win it back sooner by kind, good behaviour.
We had photos up of our eldest from birth and reminded him he too used to be a baby. I'd tell my eldest he used to do this or that when he was the same age but now he can do x or y so much better, he's a big boy, etc. It used to crack me up when he very seriously said to me, "Little kids don't know much do they", he himself so young but gradually grasping that his younger sibling would soon learn stuff too and not be so dependent on us.
I was advised to get him helping me when I saw to his baby sister; brimful of purpose and being busy, he enjoyed feeling useful and being praised.
If you want professional advice of course you must seek someone qualified, perhaps you could try some ideas on your thread in the meantime.
I'd do a massively over the top star chart. Praise and a star for every 1/4 or half hour of good behaviour. Star for every time kind thing he does. Ring a family member to tell them how great he's done.
I'd do time out, for every time he hurts his sibling.
You might be in a negative mindset, this might turn it round.
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