I just discovered this forum and I'm hoping someone has some advice for me.
We have a 2-year-old son who is generally very loving, sociable, and cheerful. We haven't had too many aggression problems with him. Every once in awhile he'll give one of us a shove, or start smacking our laps, but it seems less aggressive than it is a sort of testing game, to see what we'll do. This was before the new baby arrived, however.
Now that the new baby is here, he is very interested by her, and likes going over to her and patting her and stroking her. This is all fine, obviously. He even says "Niiiiiice" when he pats her, because we've talked to him about how we need to touch the baby "nicely, gently" so many times. But then every great once in awhile, he hauls off and smacks her upside the head! Or, he'll grab a hand and yank really hard. The smacking is what really upsets me, because a lot of times when it happens, he'll give us this defiant look like, "Look what I did!" I don't know if he's testing our limits, or genuinely feels aggression towards the baby (jealousy issues?) or what. My husband and I are kind of at sea about how to handle this.
For the first couple of weeks we tried what we always did with the cat, which is to take Zeke's hand and stroke it nicely over the baby while saying "Look, this is how we touch nicely! You need to touch the baby gently and nicely. Hitting hurts!" However, that did not seem to curb the behavior. We also experimented with removing him physically from the situation, by lifting him up and taking him elsewhere, and distracting him with his train set or whatever. That worked kind of okay, but led to tears and temper tantrums more often than not. We tried giving him a "time-out" in his booster seat at the kitchen table one time, and one time only. That was not fun for anybody and I don't really want to try it again. We also considered just prohibiting him from going near the baby at all, but neither my husband or I are really happy with this solution. We'd like him to be able to interact with the baby on at least a limited and controlled basis, rather than learning that the baby is forbidden and off-limits.
Is there anything else appropriate we should be doing? And if not, does anybody have insight into why he's doing this or how long it should take before he understands that hitting the baby hurts and he shouldn't do it? He's only 25 months old so I know that he's a bit young to expect him to empathize, but I just feel like nothing we're doing is working, and I'd like to have a consistent method of handling this problem.