I am actually posting this for my sister. She has 4 boys, eldest will be 13 in September, then 10, 6 and 2, the eldest boy, I think is just going through all things teenage - but as I don't have a teenager then i could be completely wrong!
This weekend they went to stay with my parents, he sulked about saying that everything was boring etc (his gran didn't help by telling him that if he thought everything was boring then he must be a boring person - I did point out that this probably wasn't the most helpful and confidence boosting information he could hear - she took the point - better late than never!), not unusual for a boy of his age - or that's what I thought, but then later on my sister went on to say that whenever he doesn't get his own way he starts to hurt his brothers, not the youngest mind you, but the 10 yo especially, he waits till he thinks no one is watching and then lays into him, really hurting so much so that the 10yo has had bruises and marks from him. I remember once when I was driving with my kids in the car and sis's three eldest boys, my ds had a real anger burst, furious - I've never seen him like that before - he was nearly two, he climbed out of his car seat and screamed and yelled, I had to change all the seating over and found out that 13yo had bit ds's finger - he denied - swore blind it wasn't him it but then the teeth marks were there and my ds's raction was proof enough, I made it very clear that that sort of thing was never to happen again and for the rest of the 7 days I don't think that there was a situation - but then now I'm not sure; if the 10yo doesn't say anything - in fact it's very similar to my childhood with my sister, hmm that's now made me think .....
The thing is when he wants to be good he is the sweestest kindest boy on the block, really an angel, at school he has nothing but fantastic reports, but at home; and I know that at home we feel safest to let our feelings go etc, she's tried the Faber Mazlish techniques, she's tried time out, this weekend she put in time out in the car so that he couldn't hurt the other kids he put the lights, radio etc on and ran the battery down, her response now is 'but what can I do?' it's almost as if she has given up completely with him.
Just to expand a little, she and her dh who suffers from depression went through an extremely difficult period last year, his depression, not working for 6 months (sick pay) money being tight, the house needing doing up, fighting, disinterested father etc obviously the boys went through it too, but how to get the wonderful kind boy that we know to come out more ad leave the nasty one behind - I wonder.
Sis is worried that later on he would be the sort of man who would marry and then hurt his wife and kids - I'm not there yet, but then again I don't live with him all the time either, obviously there are more situations that have come up but it would be a really long post and this is long enough!! If anyone has any information or thoughts or advice both sis and I would really appreciate it, psy? therapy? let us know your thoughts.
And if you've got this far thanks - it was a bit of a mega post!
I have a ds who will be 15 in 10 days and one who will be 13 in Sept. While the "everything is boring" part while being dragged to grandma's may be normal the biting of his 2 yo cousin's finger and the abuse of his 10 yo brother is not. I would suggest some counseling to see what is behind it. My boys have a difficult relationship due to extremely different personalities and whenever one is getting on the others nerves it is anything but calculated and sneaky.
I have to agree that the moodiness and "I'm bored" (*) are pretty normal teenage behaviors, the physical abuse of those smaller and younger is not. I'd also suggest some counseling to see what's going on.
(*) I found that responding to "I'm bored" with a list of VERY interesting things that I had for them to do (laundry, ironing, yard work, house work) tended to result in a sudden interest in reading, drawing, playing together, etc.
While I'll admit that my parents used to say only boring people get bored, my dad used to say you can't make yourself big by making others feel small and I've been known to say both of these things. I can't figure out a safe way to put him in a position to build up his siblings and cousins, but if you can find a safe way building on the theme of increased responsibility including responsibility for the safety of the others to earn increased privileges and trust that is the way I would go.
I would point out to him that the first rewards will be external (ie: from you) the ultimate rewards will come from the young family members trusting him, it will be hard for him to see how the trust of the two year old could be a benefit, but I'm sure there are situations where being friends as well as siblings with the 10 yo would be a benefit (such as times they are stuck at grandma's with nothing to do... much less boring if 10 would play ball or frisby or cards or whatever with him.) If 10yo can't trust that 13yo will NEVER purposefully hurt him he will be less inclined to play with 13 yo. The problem is 10yo's can be pretty forgiving and it might take a fair deal of hurting before little bro gives up on big bro. (boy I talked myself in a circle on that one... sorry)
Thank you all for your thoughtful replies, the more I think about it the more I see my sister in her eldest son, I'm remembering my childhood and the day that she apologised for all the things that she did to me!
Anyway, I digress, I think the thing could be a control issue as well, i.e. 13yo decided that he wouldn't eat his dinner because he couldn't sit where he wanted to, 6 yo had sat in the seat he wanted as he was late from playing on the wii, he had to take the last seat available, he stormed off and then subsequently grandfather went to see if he could persuade him to join the table, then my sister and then the 10 yo all drawing a huge amount of attention to 13yo; he came to the table again and then when he realised he still wouldn't get his way he stormed off, slamming doors and going away for well over 2 hours, no contact with him or anything so a stressful time for all.
Then when the 6 yo sees his big brother whom he adores behaving like this he thinks he can do the same thing, bad mouthing his mother and hitting his 10yo brother, who doesn't say anything until it's too late!! Oh goodness it's such a mess.
The trust thing is a very interesting one, but he really needs to show that he can be trusted before anyone will have any faith in him at the moment and that is the difficult part, learning to trust - from an adult's perspective, giving him the chance to show that we can trust him when he hasn't shown this before - that's the hard one.
Thank you all once again.