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Magickal Mama to DD (6) & DS (3). Soul mate to DH.
1) When did your DD come back from her grandparents'? Does it line up with when he started acting out? From your post, one gets the sense that there's been a lot of moving of kids and general upheaval in his life.
2) What happens if you stop trying to appease him? Say he wants x toy, you bring x toy, and now he wants y toy. What happens if you say, "We talked about this- we agreed that you'd get x toy for bedtime. I know you want y toy, but that's the deal. Sorry."?
3) What do you hope to accomplish by spanking a child for hurting something smaller than he is, particularly if it's not actually disciplining him?
4) Is it possible that, in light of your DD's issues, you're misreading typical preschool behaviors?
Sorry I don't have any real constructive advice. Good luck to you!
Doctors aren't out to kill you or your children. Childbirth isn't inherently safe. Science is actually smarter than your intuition. Lighten up. Use sunscreen.
His behavior changed 4 months ago. His sister moved back home in summer. Wasn't summer just over 4 months ago? Kids often don't react right away to a change. He was used to having his sister around occasionally. But now it's all the time. That's a huge change.
2nd he's nearly 3. If you read on the boards here (Childhood Years, Toddler Years, Gentle Discipline), I'd bet you that nearly 1/2 of the discipline issues are with the 2-4 age range. Maybe more. 2 year olds are trying to figure out their physical boundaries (what happens if I stomp on the cat?), 3 year olds progress to figuring out the boundaries of their power (can I make momma do this? Can she make me?) and 4 year olds are busying figuring out social power ("you can't come to my birthday party!"). Things do calm down after this. I can't tell over the internet whether he's just a highly spirited 2 year old or a child on the edge of ADHD and/or ODD. (Personally, I think most 3 year olds could be classified as ODD. It's when they don't outgrow those behaviors, that it's a problem.)
I strongly disagree that the spanking isn't doing him harm. First, you're trying to teach him not to hit by hitting him? Kids don't get this logic. Second, if his dad is waiting until dad has calmed down, a 2 year old has forgotten what he's done in the first place. Correction for children this age must be immediate for them to get it. Even better is prevention because that teaches them boundaries much more clearly. "Oh, mom won't let me do this. Hm... not this time either.. nope not this time either.. OK, I guess he means it."
I know you said he gets lots of attention, but do you color, paint and be outdoors with him? This sounds to me like a child who needs a lot of attention and will act out in any way to get it.
I think an evaluation by your doctor is a good idea. I also think it would be a good idea to see if there's an organization around that has parenting groups for parents of kids with ADHD. If he has ADHD, then yes, you will need to parent a bit differently (clearer boundaries, for example). Since you've got one child with ADHD, taking a parenting class would help you with your daughter. I'd also recommend just general parenting counseling for you and your husband -- you've had a rough time with your daughter's early years, you're afraid that it's happening again with your son. No matter if he's diagnosed or not, being able get someone's outside perspective on things you can try would help.
Yes, i have thought about all of this. But I dont understand the logic behind stomping the cat 10-25 times a day. He laughs at her pain- he knows that it hurts her. Maybe some of this behaviour is abotu him trying to figure things out- but most of it is not. Its much harder to describe is actions over ther internet, if you could see it in person, you would see why it concerns me so much. Its not so much about WHATS hes doins but about HOW hes doing it that has us worried. <snip>
Actually, he DOES understand whats hes done wrong and why he is being punsihed, he doesnt forget. DH askes him before and after and he can tell you each time. We use this method with time out as well- we have him tell us what he did to get there before and after time out. He fully understands.
Read up on Theory of Mind. He's not yet 3. He may or may not understand that the cat (and you) have feelings different from him. I"m not saying nothing's up, and I'd trust your mother's instinct. But I also think that you may be ascribing more understanding to a not yet 3 year old than he actually has.