What do I do with this behavior? It is constant. I will say in a nice polite voice "Be careful not to run over the baby with the pushcart" and he takes said pushcart and throws it across the room while screaming no! I had him in my lap and he asked for milk with ice, and I said sweetly, 'Not right now bud" and he punched me in the face. He is constantly hitting his sister and other children, throws chairs and whatever he can manage to pick up. He has thrown his food plates. We do thinking time-a couple of minutes in his sister's room with or without me (depends on whether or not DH is home to help out with the 4 or 1 year old). He screams and kicks furiously at the door. He is in speech, so I know he must have a lot of frustration at not being able to communicate well, but this behavior is more than I can bear. Now the 12 month old is biting and pulling hair. I can only imagine he is learning this awful behavior from his brother. We do not hit, I praise good behavior, try to connect and have moments with all of them. I constantly tell him that we don't hit, take the toy away he is using to hit, bring him to the room to calm down and hopefully he feels like he is missing out on the action. He has always been so willful. I remember I used to joke that if I told him to eat a cookie, he would throw it across the room because I told him to! He doesn't listen to a thing I say. My daughter was similar, but never violent or aggressive. Just didn't listen very well. Now she understands the positive and negative reinforcement and will listen. I was a nanny forever! and a teacher. I was always really good at it. Not sure where I am failing so miserably as a mom :(
No advice, but it seems like you need a break. I know it seems like it's impossible to get one, but is there anyone who could help you out? What about outside help- you said he is in speech, maybe ask the speech therapist about this behavior to see what she suggests?
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
I don't really have advice but I'm going through the same thing with my my ds who is 32 months old. He is very aggressive. He hits, pinches, and has recently started spitting (which completely grosses me out). DD was not like this. She was such a mellow kid and this boy is a handful. I can't take him anywhere without having to be near him because I'm afraid he will beat up another kid (which he has done). I remind him to be gentle. I ask him to show me gentle hands. He will stroke my face lightly and give or give me a hug but later will go back to hitting, pinching, throwing, etc. I'm really hoping he grows out of this because it's so embarrassing when we're out and he randomly throws something and hits a stranger in the face or hits a kid for no reason. I pray a lot.
Oh, my! I have been having a hard time with my spirited ds for tha past 6 months or so, so around the same age. It sounds like you are doing a great job. And like you need a break, so try to get a few minutes of time to yourself -- out for a walk alone, alone in a bath with a book?
The one thing I thought of reading your post is to try not to tell him to do anything unless you really have to. My sister took this so far as to just hand things to her ds instead of verbalizing the request. She would hand him his breakfast because if she told him it was time to eat he might just freak out. Or she would just hand him his socks or hold up his jacket to help him put it on. That showing of his will is powerful and important, but we have to try not to engage it too frequently.
Also, I wonder if you can have him help you in the kitchen or folding laundry or whatever to give him a break from playing with his siblings. Sometimes I think playing nicely can just be kind of stressful for little guys, so they just blow up. Obviously this would only work if you offered and he accepted, but it might help.
Aggression is pretty common for toddlers and yeah, I imagine the speech issues make it much worse. As I understand, that is a pretty common problem for kids with speech difficulties.
Three young kids must be horribly hard and I agree that having someone (a grandparent? a tween to work as a mother's helper?) who could come in and give you a break might make this period easier to get through. It's an awful lot to deal with.
For the long term, the best help for his emotions will be when he can speak better and when he gets better at talking about his emotions. I would work on that. What I've done with mine when they were toddlers (and one had a speech delay and the other was high needs - though I haven't had one who was both) was to empathize and help them name their emotions, ("You look angry/frustrated/whatever." and maybe something like "It is hard to have a little brother play with your things/whatever.") and then tell what your expectation is. ("It is OK to be angry/frustrated/whatever but it is not OK to throw/hit/etc.") Also, and this is the hard part with three young kids, is to be right on top of it while you're dealing with it, because it takes a huge amount of consistency. Dealing with problems by throwing or hitting can become a habit, and you have to catch every time he tries to throw something or throws it, and hopefully you catch it most of the time, to get him to un-learn that habit. Try to think of it as getting him to learn a new way of dealing with his bad emotions.
He will still have tantrums, as most kids that age do, and yours certainly sounds tantrum prone in particular. My way of dealing with tantrums was to do as I said above, and then let them have their tantrum (taking away anything that can be used as a weapon or broken) and just let them get the emotions out. I don't abandon them, but OTOH I don't get involved in the tantrum or get emotional and feed the drama. I stay out of it and let them know I'm there when the tantrum is over. And then when they're calm again I give love and go on as if nothing had happened. The ultimate lesson I'm going for is "you can yell and scream and pitch a fit, but it doesn't do anything good and changes nothing." Obviously that means that you have to be consistent and not allow the tantrum to change what you would do anyway to try to quiet him. You have to behave as if no tantrum is happening for him to learn that the tantrum changes nothing and is a waste of energy. I want to stress that I didn't get cold or even go into another room. I'd stay nearby, let her know I was close and to let me know when she was finished and needed a hug, and then would stay nearby and calm. I tried to think of myself as an emotional rock she could latch onto when her emotions were out of control.
I will say that my first had TONS of tantrums, and really violent scary ones, but the second is easy and never really had a tantrum, so this is really from experience with just one kid. Unless my method worked so well with the second that she just didn't need to tantrum - but I don't think that's the case. She's very easy going and happy and I can't imagine her having a tantrum no matter what was going on. Anyway, it did help for us with the oldest's terrible tantrums, but I present it as a perspective gained from one child and not something that I've seen help with a number of kids or anything like that.
That is a great idea to limit requests. He also reacts really badly to me telling him not to do something. Wonder how I can handle that one....I love the idea of being their rock. Just wish I had a little more patience. It so hard with a baby nursing, and trying to engage the 4 year old. I am ashamed to say I rely too heavily on videos from the library. We don't have TV, but I have yet to find something that engages them for any length of time.
My 32 month old does the same thing, he pinches too, and has been wanting me almost every second of the day! He got woken up too early today and was CRANKY. Which made me cranky. lol. I let him watch some curious george this morning, while i did some work on the computer, then went outside for a while. We're back in now- got him set up with drawing, which usually holds his attention for some time- but is now demanding a cookie and saying "all done!" to drawing. sigh. it's just one of those days. No advice, what others have said about getting a break=SO CRUCIAL. For me, it helps put things in perspective. Don't beat yourself up. You have a lot going on, three kiddos! I only have one and feel like I'm going crazy half the time ;) You sound like a great mom, and IMO watching videos is fine, I wouldn't feel "ashamed" for that- if it's the only thing that's going to give you some sanity, so be it! Momma's sanity is important. :) That's my philosophy. Toddler boys sure can be a handful!!! xo
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