Big one beating up the small one

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Big one beating up the small one

Postby Treeb » 14 Jul 2016, 02:50

Have any of you had an older child who maliciously hurts/beats up their younger sibling?

L is constantly hurting and chasing A in a really mean way. He frequently tries to trip her or ram into her and knock her down, grab her around the middle and pull her down, grab her arm and roughly pull her, etc. When she gets upset and tries to run to wherever I am he chases right behind her grabbing at her or bumping into her, sometimes knocking her down all over again. This happens several times a day.

We're a bit at our whit's end with how to deal with this. We've tried time outs/sending him to his room to calm down but he just starts up again almost as soon as he's back with her. I've tried picking her up and walking out of the room, but he just follows hitting me and pulling on her legs. I've lost my cool and yelled, which obviously is not productive...

I know it's all him trying to reach out for attention and one-on-one time, plus reacting to her ability to move around now, play with all his toys, etc. I try to give him quality one-on-one time as much I can, but we all know how many little responsibilities there are to fit into a day, and it's all made doubly hard by A being in a very clingy and needy separation anxiety "phase". (Is it still a phase if she's been that way her whole life so far?) He's also been unwell recently and is on a three week course of antibiotics, so I know he's not feeling like his best self, but this all started before he got sick and I'm sure will continue after.

Anyone have any genius ideas for how to handle this?
Mama to big boy L born Sept. 2012, and baby girl A born June 2015.

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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby Treeb » 14 Jul 2016, 02:59

I feel like I should add... He's not just a horrible kid all the time, he's sweet and lovely most of the time, can play really nicely with her when he wants to, etc. It just feels like we're stuck in the rut of this behaviour and no one knows how to get out of it. He doesn't know how to stop himself from being mean, or doesn't know what he should be doing instead.
Mama to big boy L born Sept. 2012, and baby girl A born June 2015.

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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby ches » 14 Jul 2016, 05:01

It sounds like attention-seeking behavior, and so the key is not to give it attention -- hard when he's hurting a baby! (But, in terms of "this gets mom's attention, he's onto a winner...) So, you need to set yourself up for success, and give him looooooots of attention for being nice to her. He's old enough for rewards, but the rewards need to be for the specific replacement behavior, such as asking for attention in a positive way, so it's not just rewarding him being nice IYSWIM, and it's hard not to reward "not-negative" behavior, because that says your expectation was the negative behavior, which is what ultimately gets reinforced. Big love to you, though. Attention seeking behaviour is a pain in the bloody arse. xox
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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby Cofa's Tree » 14 Jul 2016, 07:48

Have he made any new friends of his own age in your neighbourhood? Would a few play dates with children he can't push around as much help? Or any playgroup sessions he can attend on his own or classes he could do to give him another focus? (((Treeb))) must be difficult to see him behaving like that.
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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby StJuniper » 14 Jul 2016, 08:07

My line has always been, "If you can't stop hurting your sibling, you can't be near them." I would follow this by setting them up with some kind of separate activity. Yesterday P threw a whole bunch of sand at R's face and head, so R had a bath and I had P sit st the counter colouring while I made lunch. We ended up getting to spend some time chatting, which helped reset him, and it's not really a punishment per se, just a way of making the behaviour unavailable for a while IYSWIM.

In your shoes, I'd probably let A cry for a bit, honestly, in order to spend some time with L. If she's set up in her room/crib with some toys or spending some enforced time with your DH, she'll be fine, and I think it'd be valuable for L to see that his neediness is just as important to you as A's neediness, even if he's expressing it more aggressively than she is. I recently asked P which kid I loved the most and he promptly answered "Tumbleweed," because to him I clearly devote most of my time to her and make the boys adjust their expectations/activities based on her needs. We talked about how I love them all the same but Tumbleweed needs more while she's tiny, and I told him some different things I love about each one of them-- just saying don't take for granted that he's aware that your attention to A's littleness is about what's urgent, not an indication of who is most important to you.
Mama to two boys, the Scout Kid P, 02/26/12 and the Feral Kid R 12/15/13, and one little Tumbleweed girl, 05/27/16.
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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby emzit » 15 Jul 2016, 14:05

Have you talked to him in a quiet moment about what his feelings are when he does it, and how it makes A feel? I've always found catching up for a discussion is the best way to get through to muncher. Plus lots of attention to him whenever I could manage it when squish was younger. I wore squish a lot when he was that age so it was easier to give them both what they needed at the same time as well.

As far as encouraging positive behaviour, I use a lot of ches' tips about being specific - focus at the moment is doing things without being asked, being independent, nice voices, being kind/thoughtful/sharing/caring towards squish. Tonight I was recounting our trip to a craft store today to DH to tell him about a couple of really nice behaviours that Muncher had done and he was so proud and happy that Ive just instigated a new dinner topic of three things the boys did that day to make me happy. Squish was totally unbothered but muncher was kidding me and cuddling me, saying he loves me, trying to sit on my lap... we could see him just lapping up all the positivity and there were no fights before bedtime which is pretty rare at the moment.
mini muncher 8/11
little squish 3/14
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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby EnigmaFish » 15 Jul 2016, 23:59

I've no advice about L, I'm afraid, but I just wanted to offer some support for A's separation anxiety "phase". I had the same with Newt, for at least the first eighteen months. She is still much closer (physically) to me than Kleintje, but it's gotten a lot better. So yeah, it is a phase. Phases can last years, right?
(((Treeb)))
v1.0: Kleintje, born January 2012.
v2.0: Newt, born July 2014.
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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby Treeb » 17 Jul 2016, 01:52

Thanks everyone, you've given me a lot to think about and try. Scolding him and scooping up A is just such an automatic reaction for me, it's really taking some effort to try to ignore the behavior and instead just remember that this is how he's telling me he needs more mommy time. We've had a couple of better days now, so I guess I am having some success with changing my responses and trying to give him more one-on-one time and more positivity in general. I've also briefed dh on the new approach and he's agreed to trying it but hasn't had much chance to put it into practice yet.

EF - thanks for letting me know I'm not alone with the super clingy baby. I love her, but it's really wearing. She won't even go to dh a lot of the time, although that's gotten slightly better in the past few weeks. She's happy to be left with him now if they're outside doing something interesting, she's not too tired, the stars align, etc. and as long as I'm not gone more than five or ten minutes. Most of the time though it's a full panic attack if i dare to go upstairs for something without her, or shut the bathroom door, or even try to wash the dishes (because I can't hold her while I do that.) It's just a phase. It's just a phase.
Mama to big boy L born Sept. 2012, and baby girl A born June 2015.

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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby Kitcameron » 23 Jul 2016, 20:00

I hear you Treeb, CM is just the same. She's still breast feeding and I can't see her ever stopping tbh. SM weaned herself at 10.5 months and I always knew in the long run that was probably the best way, although it was hard emotionally at the time (and physically) and I think the bf makes her more clingy to me. She's finally getting to a point where she'll spend periods of time being a daddy's girl but she'll always come running back to me after a bit. It is just so draining having a child clinging to you all the time, and she insists in being carried a lot of the time too, even just around the house. More because she likes the closeness than because she's lazy I think. She likes walking outside but obvs gets tired and needs carrying then.
Mummy to Slinky Malinky (Sept. 12) and Chunker Munker (June 14.)
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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby EnigmaFish » 25 Jul 2016, 16:28

Do either of you use slings? I know they're great for new babies and all that, but I still use my toddler sling for Newt quite a bit. Now that she's bigger, she goes on my back so I can still get things done. We still have the closeness: I can talk to her, and she loves it when I rub her feet. It doesn't make up for getting quality time away from her, but it does make day-to-day life more practical.
v1.0: Kleintje, born January 2012.
v2.0: Newt, born July 2014.
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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby Kitcameron » 27 Jul 2016, 20:02

CMs not a huge fan of the sling any more. I'm hoping it's just that she's outgrown the baby sling and will love it again when I hire a toddler one but if you suggest she's carried in the sling instead of arms she goes loco. She's been carried in a sling since birth so it's not that she's unused to it.
Mummy to Slinky Malinky (Sept. 12) and Chunker Munker (June 14.)
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Re: Big one beating up the small one

Postby Treeb » 31 Jul 2016, 17:34

A's never been big on being in a carrier. I used it a bit when she was trying and she would nap in it. I did put her in it on a really cranky day last week when I needed to get some things done and she was walking every time u set her down even for a second, but she got fed up with it pretty quickly.

I think she's turned a tiny bit of a corner though. On Thursday she was smiling at our neighbor while i chatted with her, said "hi" to her unprompted and even let me put her down and happily played in the grass and the rocks nearby with L. (Usually she's firmly attached to my arms when we're chatting with people, except if we're shopping in which case she runs around the store like a wild thing.) And yesterday she played happily outside with dh for a full half hour while I made dinner, which is absolutely unheard of.

Had a few really rough days with L last week, but we were in the midst of getting our entire septic system replaced and I was super distracted all day, besides just being of our usual routines. So even though he was acting out it was easier food me to (mostly) not get stressed by it since I was able to recognize what was triggering it.
Mama to big boy L born Sept. 2012, and baby girl A born June 2015.

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