My son is 18 months. We live abroad and are visiting my dad and his wife and their family for the holidays. They have an almost 3 year old boy - my half brother. He has a very intense case of the "terrible twos" and is not happy about my son's presence in his kingdom. He is yelling at us all the time "I DON'T LIKE THEM, I DON'T WANT HIM HERE", etc etc, freaking out about sharing and worst of all being aggressive violent and mean. He comes at my son with this awful mean look on his face and hits him, many times a day. His behavior makes me feel like I'm living with a tyrannical dictator and every move is made in fear of him freaking out.
Apparently this behavior is normal for him, we were warned about this. His mother, my dad's wife, whom I adore and is like a sister to me, is handling it quite well and doing her best. I don't really feel there is much I can "do" about this because a.) he's not my child b.) his mom is doing damage control and is actually a pretty decent parent and b.) as far as I understand, this kind of overly aggressive mean behavior has deeper roots and can't just be solved or changed during a relatives short visit. Although I think my dad and his wife are pretty good parents to this boy, they are not really into positive discipline, AP, etc and are somewhat neurotic and controlling actually (well she is anyway)I am trying so hard not to judge because I know we may well be in for this kind of behavior once our son reaches that stage, but I am getting worn down by it. I am having a hard time not reacting myself, like when he yells "I DON'T LIKE HIM!" it takes restraint not to yell back "WELL WE DON'T LIKE YOU EITHER!!" . This afternoon I almost broke down and cried. It actually hurts me, it puts my son into shock and physically hurts him when he gets hit.
We have about 10 more days, and we could go to a hotel, but that is a very expensive, inconvenient option and I am otherwise enjoying the time at the house with my dad and his other child and wife.
I also worry that this will permanently damage my relationship to my half brother, which may not end up being such a tragedy....but I can tell you this behavior of his makes me not like him at.all. I know I shouldn't blame him, he's just a child and it's not his fault. I know he must be feeling somehow disempowered and this is his way of getting some semblance of control. I know some of this is normal toddler stuff....although I do not believe for a second all toddlers are this mean and angry.
Please help! I just need a hug, or some ideas or words of wisdom or anything. This is very trying.
Sorry this is so long thank you so much if you read this far. Happy Holidays!
Mama since 2010
Multicultural living in Europe
That sounds really difficult, I'm so sorry!
My main advice would be to increase supervision. I know that with my kids, when they start fighting it generally means they've been left on their own for too long. (Not that they're out in the wilderness mind you, just in the next room.) With kids who are 3 and 18m, you may really need to be *actively* supervising them the entire time they're together. It might not be enough to be, say, in the same room but chatting with other adults on the couch while the kids play on the floor. You and your partner (is there a partner there with you?) may need to take turns being on duty to sit with your son and oversee his play with the older guy. It would be great if the older kid's mom and your dad would help as well, but don't count on it. Unfortunately it seems like I always end up having to be the one to monitor this kind of situation when it comes up.
It is a PITA and a lot of extra work, but it should keep the hitting to a minimum. And if it gets to be too much, maybe one of you could take your son out for a while. Oh and speaking of which, I find that my kids fight a lot less outside. A change of venue could really help defuse things, whether it's a trip to the library or the park.
SAHM to 6.5yo DS and 4yo DD. PCOS with two early m/cs. Married 8 yrs. Certified birth doula, writer, editor.
Some stuff I like:
I have an almost 3yo, and he is going through a TERRIBLE phase right now. He has hit me before, but thankfully he doesn't hit anyone else (although I have no idea what would happen if a much younger child showed up for an extended visit).
I understand that you don't want to discipline a child that isn't yours, and I wouldn't recommend it. The one thing I would strongly recommend though, is ignoring his bad behavior. Active ignoring - he hits your ds, you pick up ds and go to another room and close the door. Cut off the access immediately, abruptly, and without a word. (do this when he says he doesn't like you, doesn't want you there, etc as well. If he doesn't get attention for doing it, he will probably stop)
The other thing I would recommend, is being nice to him. Whenever there is any type of positive interaction (if he says good morning, if he gives someone a hug, etc) go over the top in praise. Like, super dramatic very happy omg how wonderful and amazing are you to be so super wonderful and sweet and omg etc etc etc. If you can find ways to give great attention to the good things, and none to the bad, he might start to see a benefit in acting sweet more often.
Don't take it personally! He's not doing this because he hates you or your son. I know that you know that, but do you KNOW that? I have 2 kids. When other children hit/hurt/yell at my oldest (2 yr old) I take it personally. I project what I feel onto my kid. All toddlers go through rages and it sounds like this one hasn't had to share his space with another child.
Also- his mom (I'm sure) feels terrible about what her son is doing. You're judging their parenting style and implying that this boy is not normal. Just remember you are not seeing the 'best' in this child. You are seeing the worst.
Try to see the best in this boy. All children have good sides and positive sides. Change your thinking. See the best in this boy. It will help! Don't get a hotel, but if things don't improve-you'll know for next time.