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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm having a very hard time trying to figure out how to handle ds's aggression (he's 3 yo). I'm a firm believer that you can't help the problem until you know what's causing it. Well, I know what's causing him to be aggressive with me (hit, kick, etc.), but I can't do anything about it. Ds has always been a voracious nurser, probably due to some sensory problems, and at 3 yo, he still wants to nurse as much as he did when he was a newborn. Actually, he mainly wants to comfort suck (think pacifier) constantly. I finally couldn't stand the all-night nursing anymore, so I night weaned him a month ago. I've also been working with him for a long time on falling asleep w/o nursing. I made a compromise with him--nurse for awhile, off for a while, etc. until he finally falls asleep.<br><br>
Well, ds is just plain mad about the whole thing. He won't even try to compromise with me any more--when I ask him to let go he starts jumping on me, hitting, kicking, scratching. But I can't keep nursing him like I did (I've got bursitis and nerve damage in both of my arms from lying down in the same position for so long). And I can't let him continue to be mean and aggressive, but I don't know what to do about it.<br><br>
I've been mad too about getting abused by him, so I've told him that I won't play with him or share my body with him or continue to sleep with him if he can't be gentle, but this seems like punishment or just plain meanness (though I really can't lie in bed with him while he's kicking me). I've tried to explain that it's ok to be mad but not ok to hit. I've tried to remind him that he doesn't like being hit by other kids and that he doesn't want to be around other kids who hit (and therefore I don't want to play with him either when he does that). And I've tried to get him to talk to me about it, but he won't.<br><br>
What can I do? How do I address the aggression since I can't help the reason why he's so mad? I just get mad at him for doing it and then we're pulled even further apart. I really need some suggestions!<br><br>
Thanks, Kelly
 

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I just posted on your other thread and wish I had more to help you here. All I have is a big ol' <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2">
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the hug, P-chan. I appreciate it.<br><br>
Does anyone else have some thoughts for me? Should I just treat it as I would any other kind of aggression/unacceptable behavior?
 

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Hitting, scratching, and biting you is NEVER acceptable! Don't feel bad about sticking with your decisions at all! Nursing is obviously important to him but respecting you and your body is more important! How about "I know you like to nurse at night but mommy's body is very tired and needs to sleep. I'll be happy to nurse you in the morning when we wake up. And I want to remind you that hitting, kicking,etc. is not allowed in our house." Period. End of discussion. (except you'll have to repeat that every two seconds for two weeks until he realizes he can't convince you otherwise <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">)<br><br>
We're the parents! We set the example on how to treat one another. If we're trying to teach our children to respect the needs of others we cannot fail to respect ourselves!
 

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I think he is needing assurance that you are still available to him. Can you give him some extra attention in those moments when he's not being aggressive/demanding? Perhaps ask him if you could have some cuddle time while reading a book - or some other activity that he enjoys (not nursing obviously!). When my ds1 starts acting up a lot I know it's time for us to have a "date." We don't have to make a big deal out of it - it's just some special time for just the two of us - going on a hike, to the library or the playground for example.<br><br>
Hope this helps!
 

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Maybe he can't handle partially giving up something that is very comforting and soothing to him, and possibly meeting sensory needs that might not be obvious. I think that for some people its easier to give something up completely rather than have it taken away before you feel finished with it again and again. Also, when he sometimes gets to nurse, it seems there would be less motivation to try to find an alternate activity to replace what nursing gives him - he might get stuck in anger and disappointment and rage at not being able to nurse all the time he wants, rather than moving forward to "well, I can't do that, what CAN I do that would help me feel soothed?" I know that for many children, for example, having candy in the house is far more upsetting when that candy is limited than it would be if there simply was no candy in the house at all. Sometimes its a relief to the child to not have to deal with it at all and move on, turning their attention to something else.<br><br>
Maybe completely weaning him is not necessary though (since I don't know your son). Maybe it would be helpful to him to have firm "rules" about when nursing occurs, so that it becomes very clear what is and what is not a time for nursing. Such as only nursing sitting up in a particular chair (not in bed where extended nursing sessions used to be the norm for him).<br><br>
Is there something you can encourage him to learn to be comforted by instead of nursing (maybe a special stuffed animal, maybe something he could suck or chew on while falling asleep, maybe rocking together in a rocking chair without nursing, maybe listening to a storytime tape or special music)?<br><br>
I agree with you that its hard to address the physical aggression exclusively, without considering what he is needing and meeting that need first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
riversmommy--you're right. Being aggressive isn't acceptable, and I need to address that. I've been reading around this forum and I've got some ideas. Thanks for the reminder about how important it is to teach respect. After all, what kind of message am I sending him if I let myself be abused (whether by nursing when in pain or by letting him hit).<br><br>
Martha_2sons--I love the idea of a "date." I think it would help ds to have more special time. I'll have to think of something to do with him that doesn't involve sitting down b/c when I do it's like I put a sign around my neck saying, "come get mama's milk"! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
BellinghamCrunchie--I totally agree with you. I've obseved the same thing with food in our house. If I have cookies or crackers, he bugs me incessantly to have some and gets really mad when I say no. If there isn't any in the house, he doesn't even ask for it. I've been thinking the same thing about the nursing. It's occurred to me that I'm making it harder for him by limiting the nursing. But I feel so sad every time I think of weaning b/c he loves it so much, and it's really our main way of being close (he's not an affectionate child). I think that your idea is a good one to make firm rules about nursing (and change the location), so he won't be confused. I've tried everything I can think of to encourage a comforting replacement for the nursing, but he won't take anything else. Maybe it will take weaning for him to do that. I'll have to think about this. I really appreciate your insights.
 

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My ds had very similar issues at that age.<br>
A little background--dh's (ex)wife left tem both when ds was only 5mo. So he had only daddy for 3 years...I married dh when ds was 3.5. DS obviously really struggled with the change--he had no memory of ever having a mommy, and all he knew was that someone was interfereing with his daddy time...and he got VERY agressive with us both. (One of the most frequent comments in those early days was "I hate you mommy, I want daddy")<br><br>
We did two things:<br>
First, we worked to teach him the difference between feelings and actions. We tried really hard to validate his feelings, but we did not accept his actions. We gave him options though--when you feel mad, that's fine--everybody feels mad sometimes. BUT, when we feel mad, we cannot hurt people or things (ie, hitting, kicking, biting, throwing stuff, hitting walls, etc). However, we CAN go in our room, cry, punch a pillow, punch a stuffed animal, go outside and yell, go outside and run, go outside and hit the big walnut tree, go outside and kick the back steps, sit on the office chair and spin really fast, etc etc etc. We tried to give him LOTS of options of things that were acceptable (including 'punching bag' type options so that he could get a physical release without hurting people or things). It took a few months for him to get the hang of this without reminders, but then he started just disciplining himself...he's almost 7 now, and most of the time when he gets upset, I'll see an angry look cross his face, then he'll stomp or run off to his room and start spinning on the chair, or say "I want to be alone" and go outside or to his room for a little while. I think the main key is to give them 'yes' options rather than just saying 'no'.<br><br>
The second thing (and I don't know if I'd necessarily choose the same option now, but it's what we did then) was that we showed zero tolerance for violent behavior. If he hit or kicked, we didn't discuss, we just took him directly to a time out chair. He sat there for approx 5 min (some kids need mroe, some need less, but it's about 1min per year old is the recommendation). We didn't interact with him, and the chair was in a place where he couldn't see anything interesting. So long as he kept his bottom on the chair, he could talk or wiggle or whatever, and we just left him.... if his bottom left the chair, we put him back on the chair and started the time over (the counselor who recommended this method also said to do a spank, then put him back and restart the time...we did this at first but we're learning better now!) Anyway, once the time is up, we would go sit down with him, hug and hold him, and explain what the problem was, and why he had to sit on the chair. We explained that when he was violent, we had to move him away from other people in order to protect the other people. The violent behavior dropped off very quickly--maybe a month or two and it was almost entirely gone. DS still struggles with anger sometimes, but not with the violence like he did.<br><br>
hth! I know it's SO frustrating!<br><br>
jenni
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>brightonwoman</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7947891"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">First, we worked to teach him the difference between feelings and actions. We tried really hard to validate his feelings, but we did not accept his actions. We gave him options though--when you feel mad, that's fine--everybody feels mad sometimes. BUT, when we feel mad, we cannot hurt people or things (ie, hitting, kicking, biting, throwing stuff, hitting walls, etc). However, we CAN go in our room, cry, punch a pillow, punch a stuffed animal, go outside and yell, go outside and run, go outside and hit the big walnut tree, go outside and kick the back steps, sit on the office chair and spin really fast, etc etc etc. We tried to give him LOTS of options of things that were acceptable (including 'punching bag' type options so that he could get a physical release without hurting people or things).</div>
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This is great advice, and something I think kids can understand pretty easily. I tried it out today--ds got one of those punching bozo clowns for Christmas. At first I wanted to give it away b/c I don't really like things that encourage hitting, but I dragged it out of the closet when ds starting getting aggressive. He punched it for awhile and seemed calmer when done. I'll keep encouraging it and see how it goes. Thanks!
 
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