I'm hoping someone might have some insight for me on how to talk to my son (5) about his issues with his younger sister (2). I've also just read Non-Violent Communication, so I'm trying to apply those ideas to my parenting. If anyone has happened to read it, great, if not that's ok .... Anyway, here's the situation:
DS says he doesn't like DD. It's a general statement of fact that he'll repeat I'll guess about 1-2 times a week usually in the context of "I hit/pushed/squished her because I don't like her." We talk about feelings being one thing, but actions being a choice, that it's not ok to hit/push/squish someone and everyone needs to be safe in our home.
Today when DH picked him up after school he pushed down someone else's younger sibling. Neither I nor DD were there. When I talked to him about it, he said he did it because he doesn't like babies (kid in question is 2.5-3yrs old?). I asked if he feels angry at younger kids because he's angry/irritated at DD and he said yes. DD is 2 and she certainly does plenty to push his buttons (hitting, grabbing, ripping papers, screaming ...). Today was also the first day back at school after 2 wks, so DS was probably also feeling a bit rebellious after a long day of rules.
My question is, is there anything I can do to improve this situation? What do you say to your older kids when the younger one is being obnoxious? (not to place blame, but plenty of 2yr old behaviors are challenging even for adults). Are there things I can be saying to DD? Any comments, insights, thoughts are welcome!
I have a daughter who is almost 4 years younger than my son. My son is easily annoyed by everyone/everything...but especially her! He had sensory issues and delays, so it could be worse due to that.
When she was a baby, he didn't even realize she was there. Then at 9 mos...it hit him. He was fascinated by her....and even played with her a bit.
Then she got mobile....started getting more attention...getting into his things...and he started to act out. He started being mean to her. She started annoying him back. Things got bad.
I took them to a counselor to sort out his anger issues and the sibling rivalry. I never fought with my sister like that, so I was concerned. The counselor basically told me I was the one with the problem and said that siblings are supposed to fight.
My son seemed to really dislike his sister, and would say really hurtful things. She took it personally at times. She would cry and say "why doesn't he love me?". It broke my heart.
The good news is, he sticks up for her. As much as she still annoys him, he better not see anyone making her upset! That tells me his family loyalty is there, and he really does love her somewhere deep inside.
Also, about a year ago, she was doing something funny, and he looked at me and whispered, "She really IS kind of cute, isn't she?" Of course, it was back to screaming and "shut up!" five minutes later, but there are moments that make it all OK.
She has been sweet about saying "I love you" to him lately, and occasionally he will say it back...the majority of the time they are picking on each other, but sometimes it is in jest and they are smiling. Sometimes it still gets ugly.
I feel like it is getting better, now that he is 11 and she is 7. In all honesty, I am a lot more affectionate with her and I know that hurts him. I think that happens with our last child. He was never very affectionate. I would ask for a hug and he would give me his back....sensory issues. But I still lay with him and rub his back sometimes...I won't be able to do that much longer if he is a typical teen in a couple of years.
I was reading a book about feelings to him when his sister was about 2, and when I read the meaning of jealousy, he said "you mean like how I feel about my sister?". Being the baby of two children in my own family(with a big age difference), I think my sister felt jealous at times as well. I think it mostly stems from jealousy. Can't blame him. He was the center of attention for 4 years.
I am noticing my son has a new found fascination with babies and toddlers now. He notices them when we are out sometimes and I catch him looking at them...and he will sometimes smile and comment...."hey mom...look at that cute little one!" This is new. Maybe it just take more time for some kids.
On a side note, with the "not liking babies" thing...I know of someone with a son who is on the spectrum and he is fearful of babies. Do you suspect any developmental delays, sensory issues or other issues that could be contributing to his behaviors?
I only have one so take my thoughts with a grain of salt, but what about pointing out to him that people gave him a lot of grace and patience when he was a baby, and it would be nice if he passed that on? "Yeah, it's annoying when babies rip up our papers. Babies are like that and they're still learning how to behave. When you were a baby, you ripped up my papers sometimes. It was annoying, but I knew you were still learning so I still liked you."
-Ecstatic mommy to amazing DD, 2/07 :
Thanks for your thoughts :)
jmarroq, I particularly appreciate the perspective from a few more years down the road. The reminder that their relationship can and will change over time, and that just because you're related doesn't mean you are always going to be friends! I'll try to keep cool and keep the big picture in mind. And continue to talk about accepting feelings while taking responsibility for one's actions.
mnj77, we did use that line of logic earlier on, when DD was more of a baby and more obviously just exploring or interacting with her environment in the only way she was able. I think it's harder for DS to feel empathy now when DD seems to be doing something with the specific intent of bothering him. However, it is still a converstation we can have in those calm moments when he's not occupied with just coping with his anger.