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37 months old need help with aggression

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I am asking for help out of desperation. My ds was a difficult child from the start, colicky, couldn't put him down ever, hardly slept much as a baby, and was easily overstimmed as a baby. I practice co-sleeping and ebf and ap'ing. I read Dr. Sears Baby Book early on and it felt right for me. He also moved through his developmental stages really fast, walking by 9 and a half months. On the plus side, he is very bright, fun-loving, strong, and can be introspective. Sometimes I can just see the wheels turning when he is thinking and he will say the sweetest things like "I want to make a present to give to my friend before he moves." I am at my wit's end here because it seems that he is past the toddler stage and still has a lot of the behaviors that go with it. I have totally lost one good friend who finally admitted it was because my ds plays really rough. I wish she would have talked to me about it sooner but she decided to practice avoidance.

I always stay very close to my ds whenever we go to the park or playgroup so I can intervene as soon as he does something harmful. I try to stop the behavior, say we don't take toys from friends/hit friends, and tell him to ask for a turn with the toy when the friend is done or distract him if it is hitting to a positive outlet. I can see that he is starting to ask for turns with toys but he ALWAYS wants to play with another child's toy. If he has a favorite toy, he has difficulty sharing it. How do you take toys away gently if they are holding on to them with all of their might after taking it from another toddler? He is also very boisterous and at times loves to throw things up in the air that fall down and hit kids or run around helter-skelter bumping into kids. Other past behavior problems have resolved with similar approaches like talking about the behavior and redirecting (biting, running to the street while playing outside.) I thought we were over the hitting phase about 6 months ago when I left a gymboree class early on after he hit someone telling him we could try again another day. It seemed to finally sink in.

He is also very social and looks forward to play dates and talks a lot about his friends. He saves things to show them or share on some playdates. I am feeling as if this whole AP thing has backfired against me. My mainstream friends seem to have the easy kids who play nicely while they sit and have carefree chats in the park as I chase a madman around. They are able to go shopping, exercise and cook healthy meals while their kids go to preschool or hourly daycare. I am overweight and eat junk to keep my energy up because I can't seem to get 30 inutes to prepare a healthy meal. I am also getting paranoid that the friend who started to avoid us is telling others in the neighborhood about it so we have a reputation. I met a new neighbor through her at a b-day party and the neighbor was initially very friendly and asked about playdates yet began to avoid us too and was actually very rude on occasion. On the other hand, a friend of ours we have known since the kids were 6 mos old has remained steady and her dd is the most gentle fragile child in the group and my ds plays nicely with her.

I really need help with how to deal with:
1. hitting
2. hugging to the point of choking, violating boundaries
3. taking toys
4. not sharing
5. throwing things
6. separation - I have tried drop-in care at the health club and he was very upset so we took turns staying with him but the childcare staff wasn't comfortable with us staying, they said we had to let him cry it out so we stopped going. I can leave him with a teen sitter occasionally (once or twice amonth for 2 hours) but he still cries and I am beginning to think the sitter is avoiding us because he is a difficult child.

THese problems seem to be the worst with kids he is very familiar with, he usually acts better in new situations. I tried time-outs but they don't work. Is he going to get any better as he gets older or am I going to have to constantly deal with this hitting issue popping up? I don't think he is adhd because he will sit and read stories for long periods with me and sometimes has a longer attention span at crafts than the other more passive kids.
post #2 of 8
I think this is a child who could benefit from a quality preschool. I would talk to preschools and be very upfront about ds's issues. A preschool should be more prepared to deal with these issues then a drop in place. Moreover, I have found that when one is upfront about a child's issues a school will often take "ownership" of the problem and really try to help. Too many parents try to avoid mentionin the problem lest their kid be labeled.

Try a "developmental" preschool, not montessori, because in least in my experience these schools are much more willing to allow a parent to stay.

I don't think AP backfired, I think you just got a high needs kid. That's ok, now you have to find a way to help the both of you.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks Alexa, I will look for one. I just hope I can find one. A friend of mine had a ds who was a biter who was expelled from preschool because the school didn't want to lose revenue ifother parents withdrew their kids. I am going to have to wait a few months because we are moving in 2 weeks and I don't want to add any additional stressors right now. Does anyone have any ideas on how to deal with things now? I found myself being overly strict this morning, making him leave the park because he ran away with a shovel I asked him to return that he had found on the ground. Stupid, I know but I felt as if I had to hold my ground on it...
post #4 of 8
I would say that short and sweet is probably the best way to deal with it. If you're at the park and he throws, hits, grabs a toy, etc, give him one warning: If you can't play nicely at the park we will have to go home. The very next time he does it: BAM you are out of there fast. You know he's going to meltdown, so be prepared. Remove him from the situation immediately every time for now, soon he will get the idea.
post #5 of 8
Khrisday alwasy gives great advice. I would really follow it!
post #6 of 8

Did my son move into your house?

I could have written your post almost word for word 6 months ago. High needs from day 1, very physical, often in an aggressive way, biting, hitting, grabbing toys away - but also in love with life, very social and friendly, curious and affectionate. It sure is hard having the kid who is "more so" than anyone else's! No leisurely chats on park benches with friends while my ds played quietly in the sandbox - and I still can't say that happens too often. However, he's now nearly 3 1/2, and within the last few months he's gained quite a bit more self-control. He hasn't bitten in a long time, and rarely hits (first, anyway!) He's doing better with sharing toys, though I tend to think parents (myself included) expect our kids to be better at sharing than they are developmentally ready for - it will come, never fear. Though my son was quite verbal fairly early, as he grows older I realize that his precocious language skills led me to believe he was understanding more than he actually was. Now I can see how much better he is able to express himself through words rather than actions, and the positive effect this has on his behavior. So although "just give it time" is cold comfort when you are in the midst of such a hard struggle, I do want to reassure you that there is nothing in what you describe that sounds as if your ds won't grow out of these behaviors.

I tried to do what Khrisday suggests - one warning and we're outta here. By and large that worked quite well, though it took repeated incidents before the message got through. Sometimes when he's starting to act out I remind him "remember that time we had to leave because you..." and he often settles down. I've also done what you have and kind of over-reacted out of frustration (the shovel incident) so I try very hard to think before I say no to him or to set a limit I'm then sorry about. But when you are so concerned about how other parents will view your child it's understandable to jump too quickly sometimes - hey, we're only human! I generally take ds home if he hurts someone or disobeys in a major way, otherwise I try to help him correct his misbehavior.

And I think Alexa is right that a drop-in place won't have the investment or tolerance to cope with problems, so for now I'd avoid such places. It also sounds as if your ds is telling you he just isn't ready for separation from you, much less with strangers. My son seemed as if he'd never leave my side, much less my lap! I ignored all the well-meaning advice to leave him anyway for his own good, and took my cues from him. He was fine with "mommy and me" type programs (though again I really had to ride herd on him around the other kids); a few months ago I enrolled him in a weekly class where parents could wait outside for the kids and were permitted to go in if the child was having trouble, though this wasn't encouraged. We'd gone to a preview class a few weeks before so the environment was somewhat familiar. Well, wouldn't you know he went off with the teacher and never looked back at me (kind of sad, but great too). I really think this was because I'd allowed him to stay close to me till he'd "internalized" me enough to feel my presence even when I'm not right with him. Perhaps your local Y has some classes like this you could check out to try this approach.

As far as other parents go, this is so hard to cope with. It sure isn't easy worrying that everyone thinks you are a bad parent and that they don't like your child. I dealt with this as best I could by making sure I showed GREAT concern about my friends' kids if my ds hurt them, even accidentally, and not tolerating negative actions toward them. In general this really helped; when it didn't it often seemed as if those parents didn't understand difficult kids very well - but you know what, some of their kids are now showing problematic behavior at older ages. So no one escapes - you are just dealing with it earlier than many others!

Please don't give up on AP! I truly believe that even if you can't see the payoffs now, it will all come back to roost later. Perhaps your ds isn't as easy as other people's kids, but it sure sounds as if he has the capability of being extremely loving, creative, and a continuing source of delight to you (even if he sure keeps you on your toes). I will bet your relationship with him will be much closer and more mutually satisfying than it would have been had you not practiced AP. You'll get to that point, believe me - and come back and tell us when you do!

((((())))) Hugs to you! You're a good mama.
post #7 of 8
i speak as a care-giver, not as a parent, but from my experience, every child is differnt. i would never presume to say that your child is ADHD (something i personally think is WAY over-diagnosed) but rather, just simply not naturally the best at sharing things. every child is different, naturally, and some are better at sharing and interacting with other children then others. this does NOT mean that you failed in ANY way as a parent, but rather that this was your child's natural personality. i have a cousin who is just plain ROUGH. his parent's have accepted this, and so has his care-givers, and they work with him as best they can to teach him to play nice and share, and to not unintentionally "play too rough." it may take some time, but with a bit of searching on your part, hopefully you can find a preschool that is willing to work with you to make sure your son learns to play nicely with other children. there ARE schools out there that are truly dedicated to making sure your child becomes the best child they can be, it just may take a bit of time to find this particular school in your area. good luck!
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks so much for all of your help with this. I am feeling much better now. To try and put this into perspective
I called three other friends we have known for over 2 years and played with recently. One is an elementary school counselor (master's) whose mother runs a preschool. Our sons had played together recently and she assured me that the behavior she had observed was normal stuff and she was not concerned at all and I shouldn't be either. The second was a preschool teacher before she had her son and I have to admit, my ds often gets into toy struggles with hers. She also assured me she thought it was normal behavior and I had been dealing with it appropriatly and she was not offended. The third friend said that he does hurt other kids sometimes and mostly out of just playing rough, not intentionally but he is getting better and her dd loves to play with him.

Larkinlet, thank you thank you thank you, sounds as if we have very similar kids here. I am also able to see the positive side now. Other kids love him and he is very social and fun-loving. On the playground he is the leader, all of the other kids want to follow him and join in because he is so full of life!

I was mostly hurt by the way my friend handled the situation despite her pregnancy. I thought that if she had to react that badly (going from inviting us to go on vacation with her family to not calling and actually not even saying hello once when we saw them out, yes she did see me) that my ds must have been a lot worse than I had thought. I truly believe that we should speak up when something is bothering us so that things do not have time to get out of hand. Yes, it is a difficult thing to do but we can get better at it by practicing. I still tend to cry when I have these types of discussions but am glad I did it afterwards.
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