4 yo hitting the baby -- I lost it - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 11-05-2012, 07:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We have a new-to-us 1yo who tends to be a bit fussy, at least vocally. He was in the gated-off living room with the two older boys (4 and 3) while DH walked the dog and I was finishing getting dressed. I could hear the baby fussing and crying a little but thought nothing of it since he does that when he wants me, and I was just finishing brushing my teeth and then went to get him.

 

Well, when I got to the living room, DS (4) was BEATING him with a ball. It's one of those soft plastic balls that's mostly holes so it collapses when you push on it. But DS was practically whipping him with it.

 

I can't believe this happened. DS is known for being so sweet and well-mannered and polite at school, and despite having some issues at home with getting used to being a foster family, he has NEVER exhibited this kind of meanness toward a baby. I'm horrified. And even more so at my reaction, which was to spank him and send him to his room. I don't spank. And of course realize the ineffectiveness of hitting as a punishment for hitting.

 

Please tell me that I'm not the only one whose "sweet" kid pounds on the new baby, and how you handle it. I can't even think straight right now, I'm so upset.

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#2 of 9 Old 11-05-2012, 08:34 AM
 
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I would make sure to keep kids separated until you know they can all be trusted together, alone.  My kids are 4 and 2 and most of the time can not be left alone together in a room.  I still make them play in the living room or in the room I am in.  I couldn't leave them alone AT ALL until about 4 months ago.  Finally they are able to play for a few minutes in another room with no tears, but that just really started happening recently.

 

I would take the 1 year old with me everywhere for a while, at least until everyone is adjusted to the new family member.


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#3 of 9 Old 11-05-2012, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It never occurred to me that I would ever have to worry about this with DS. Of course now I will have to be more careful. Tonight at bedtime, after a day of lots of attention and love, I asked him if he felt better than this morning. He was confused. I said I meant better than he felt when he was hitting the baby and getting spanked for it. He said, "Oh, yeah. I forgot about that already." Really??
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#4 of 9 Old 11-06-2012, 09:38 AM
 
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If that was only one incident, you might not have an actual problem.  If it's often, I'd be concerned.

 

Either way, he can't deal with the fussing.  So, don't leave them alone together anymore at least until the baby outgrows his fussiness.

 

Other than that, I DO think a four year old is way too old to be beating up on a baby.  I can understand snapping once, but if it's a daily thing, I'd make some drastic changes to who gets to be where, and when.  Keep them apart.  

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#5 of 9 Old 11-06-2012, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think he "snapped," per se. He "experiments" with the other kids, finds the buttons to push. Our FS is 3 and can be tough about certain things, but a real whiner about others. DS has found the exact buttons (not hard to do with this kid) and plays him like an instrument. Sometimes I think things happen while they're playing b/c DS can't control his impulse to "help" or make things "his way." But there are other times I see him calculate a move and watch to make sure his predicted effect occurs. He's a little mad scientist, or anthropologist, as it were.

 

He did this when he was 2. He had a friend he saw every day at the park. Friend always wore a hat, and DS liked to snatch it off his head b/c the kid would wail and freak out. And DS would watch for the reaction, and do it again...

 

He didn't seem angry when hitting the baby, just watching him while he was crying. It's disconcerting, b/c it makes me wonder if he's able to understand and feel what it would be like to be on the receiving end of such treatment, or if he's going to end up a sociopath.

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#6 of 9 Old 11-06-2012, 10:34 AM
 
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I think you would be able to tell by the look on his face if you have something to worry about.  Since you saw it, if you are concerned, I'd look into talking to someone that might be able to help.  I don't think i'd be comfortable if I had that "feeling" until I talked to a professional about what I've been noticing.

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#7 of 9 Old 11-06-2012, 08:04 PM
 
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My four year old has done similar things to my one year old as well. I would not be too worried. I came to realize early on that my older son could not be trusted for even one minute with my younger son but as he grows into the brother role, I am finding he does less and less of this. I wouldn't jump to the sociopath conclusion. Your son is still at the point where he's learning empathy and I know my four year old at least does some things to his little brother just out of boredom and experimentation.
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#8 of 9 Old 11-07-2012, 06:15 AM
 
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I used to hit my brother all the time Ans he used to hit back. Most of the people I knew hit their siblings and many kids hit in elementary school. My dd used to annoy my mother on purpose because she liked her reaction (I heard her talking about it to a friend when she was five) . I don't think any of these things are big red flags, they are normal childhood things parents have always struggled to deal with or chosen to ignore. I suggest getting a book about siblings and thebook Your Four Year Old, the first half talks about development and is very encouraging for normalizing behavior.
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#9 of 9 Old 11-07-2012, 10:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, APTM and One... I'm having one of those weeks, and am feeling like I'm failing all the kids. I failed to protect the baby. I failed to keep my cool with DS. I failed to give FS the attention he so desperately needs, and now I have a mattress to clean. I ignored his warning signs for nearly a week, and the poor thing finally got my attention this morning in a not good way. I am starting to see how they all feed off each other. Here's hoping I can remember this and keep calm and give them what they need when they need it.

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