Hi all! Hoping to get some ideas or input about what I am going through...
DS1 is 31 months old and DS2 is 6 months old. Lately, DS1 has been getting physical with his brother. He started off with sort of punching the air and saying BAM very loudly when DS2, who is starting to "wake up" from infancy and get more active (scooting, sitting up, etc.), smiles or makes a noise or, well, does anything other than sit on my lap and be a baby. This seems to frustrate and annoy DS1. Then it escalated a week or so ago to slapping. DS1 started slapping his brother's hands and feet, sort of "testing the waters," waiting for my reaction. In the beginning, my reaction was firm but calm. "No, we do not slap. We do not hurt, we need to be gentle, just like we do with our pets, etc." Most of the time, his reaction to this was a big smile and then a move to do it again. At that point, I would make a move, such as pick up the baby and move to a different room (he would follow me) or block him with my arm from making contact with DS2... DS1 thinks it's funny more than anything and I have to distract him with something else so that he loses interest. That's been the most successful tactic so far, but it is hard.
Then, today this all seemed to escalate because DS1 was really making a game out of it. Trying to slap his brother, slapping his legs when he was in the Moby (and when I tried to walk away or turn around, he would follow and "chase" us, trying to slap), and then, when I had DS2 on the bed during our feeding (where DS1 usually has his bottle and DS2 nurses) my oldest jumped up suddenly and before I could even move the baby, smacked him right on his face between his eyes, leaving a red spot. :(
I exploded. Yelled at him louder than I ever have before (I don't typically yell at all) and told him he needed to go away, that we don't smack, and the kids were both crying. It was a total nightmare. I shut DS1 out in the hall for a bit while I checked out the baby's face, then gave them both baths and sent DS1 to bed without his usual story time (a first).
Any suggestions from moms who have been through this would be great. What can I do? I want to practice GD more than anything, but I am feeling my patience/endurance starting to waver. I have a need to protect my baby but also a need to show love and support to my oldest son. I feel that this situation is pitting them against each other and that I am in the middle. :(
Hugs, mama! This is definitely frustrating and I went/am going through the same thing. In my case it seems to go in cycles. DD1 was all over DD2 for a couple weeks in the beginning (like 2 weeks old), then again around 6-7 mo., and now again around 12-13 mo. I think it coinsides with developmental changes in the little ones.
I'm not into time-outs, but I do use them when DD1 makes any kind of aggressive gesture toward the baby. When DD1 was younger I actually set up a pack in play for her that was in the kitchen to put her in when she would hit. I didn't want to exclude her, but merely show her that she can't play with the rest of us if she can't be nice. Now that she's older (almost 3.5), I do put her in another room, and just calmly remove her from DD2 say, "we show love and respect to each other" and put her in a quiet spot.
I actually don't set a timer or anything, and tell her that she may join us when she's ready to show love and respect. When she says she's ready I do ask her to apologize and state the type of behavior she will show (ie., "love and respect"-that's kind of my motto!)
You're not putting yourself in the middle of your boys by teaching them how to behave, IMO. I know it's hard not to feel that way and you want your kids to love and be nice to each other, but the oldest one is just testing the waters and it's your job to keep them both safe and teach them how to behave towards each other.
I always try not to specifically call attention to the baby when correcting DD1, instead frame my correction as "we treat others with love and respect", so that she gets that it applies to all people, not just the baby.
Hang in there, it defnitely gets better, and these phases only last a short period (IME).
Also, make sure you're getting some quality one on one time with your older one daily, it really helps.
I don't really have advice as I came here to ask the same question. My 23 month old DD1 throws things at 9 month old DD2. What we do now is tell DD1 that we do not throw things, that is hurts her sister and then we give DD2 a lot of attention and love.
I really like mom2lucy's idea of the pack and play in another room.. I think we'll try that next.
Is your older ds getting enough alone, 1-on-1 time with you? It seems to me like your older ds is crying out for attention, my dd did the same thing when ds turned 6mo and gained some mobility. We don't do time outs at all, but I do believe in Barbara Coloroso's "if you hit(or any other physically violent act), you sit".
for me, the thing that best helps to keep the peace is to NOT punish etc when my older ds hits etc. instead, i try to understand why he did it and empathize. for my ds, having a new brother continues to be a huge shock and i try to be on both of their sides as much as i can. when ds1 feels loved and happy, he is much less likely to lash out, when he feels like he is 'bad', he acts that way.
of course, i still lose it sometimes, but usually this just sets us into a negative cycle. i love naomi aldort on this topic, she has a cd that addresses this issue.
Thank you so much everyone! Your replies have been very helpful. :) It is frustrating, but I am trying to remind myself that there is a need underlying the behavior and that instead of reacting purely to the behavior, I need to look beyond in order to determine the root cause. I think that spending some one-on-one time with DS each week, doing something special each week, just the two of us, will really help things. Also, hoping that it is just a phase and it will pass. ;)
My DS1 has been doing the same things on and off to DS2. What works with us is 1) "timeouts" when he is physical to his brother (he has to sit on his bed to calm down) and talking to him about being nice/sweet to his brother. I tell him "Liam, you are a nice, sweet boy and you need to be nice and sweet to Ian too. He is your brother and he loves you, etc" 2) I encourage them to play together (obviously i sit and play with them to 'supervise') so that DS1 starts recognizing DS2 as another person/kid and not just a "baby"... and 3) making sure that I give DS1 plenty to do during the day so that he doesn't get bored, and lastly 4) making sure I give plenty of snuggles and 1-on1 time to DS1...... it is still something we struggle with everyday (and lately it has been eye-poking we're dealing wtih) but it is definitely managable now as long as I am sure to do those things
Catie - Happy wife to Aaron (01.05), mama to Liam(08.08), and Ian (11.10)! and due Feb 2013 with blessing #3!