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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have two boys-an almost-3 yo, and a 4 mo. Despite our continual attempts to encourage gentleness toward the baby, our older son is still downright rough with him. I can tell he wants to be close to the baby, but he does it in all the "wrong" ways. He rubs his head, but really hard and really fast. He kisses him, but will push his head to one side with the force of lips. He licks him. He's spit on him. He tries to bite his fingernails, run toys into his head, pulls on his feet and hands, pulls his mouth off my breast occasionally when nursing, and SO much more.<br><br>
This stuff is not all accidental. He seems to WANT to be rough with him. I say something everytime he's gentle about how much the baby loved it. I encourage all softness and kindness. I've even tried ignoring as much of the roughness as possible, but I have to also protect the baby.<br><br>
He also does "weird" things like rubs his lips all over his head and face, has sneezed on him, and will lick his hands and wipe them on the baby.<br><br>
After reading this, I realize that this all could be very normal loving brother behavior :LOL, but how can I know for sure? What else can I do to encourage gentleness? Will it just come? Should I just stop saying anything about wanted AND unwanted behavior?<br><br>
TIA for any BTDT wisdom you can share. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I don't know if I have any advice, but I think I just wrote the same exact post (well, almost) on another board! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
Quite honestly, I think it's the age of your older son. My two are almost three and almost one. My older son was very nice and gentle when his brother was a baby (and he was two), but the closer he gets to age three, and the more mobile and interested in toys little brother gets, the more rough he is with little brother.<br><br>
I can't wait to hear what others have to say and if there is any advice. I am at my wits end sometimes with mine. Luckily, my younger son is almost one and built like a tank, so he's not a fragile infant anymore! He actually seems to enjoy the wrestling, just not the hitting, pushing, pinching, head holding... you get the picture!
 

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My dd does the same thing, and has since Nitara was born. I think it's genuine affection but she purposely takes it too far. She won't stop even when Nitara is crying. If I leave the room for 30 seconds Nitara will start crying because of something Abi has done to her.<br><br>
We just got a nice family dog from the shelter, and Abi is now rubbing her and hugging her instead of the baby. The dog doesn't mind at all because she's much bigger and can handle it, and seems to actually enjoy it.<br><br>
I know this isn't a great solution but I think it's working in our case. Oh, and once Abi got in Nitara's face and Nitara actually grabbed a handful of Abi's face that included the eyebrow and with the other hand started scratching her. Abi was shocked and cried. I am not sure if Nitara did it on purpose, but mabye she did. I think it let Abi know that Nitara is starting to be able to defend herself.<br><br>
I hope this resolves soon. They love each other but Abi can't seem to leave Nitara alone with any personal space at all. (We've talked about personal space, too, with no real success.)<br><br>
Darshani
 

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Absolutely normal. Either that or all my kids are not. :LOL<br><br>
And sometimes it really takes a little interpretation to figure it out. Just realized last week that the crazed 'scrabbling' (looked like scratching, made me nuts) that DS#2 kept doing to the baby while saying over and over 'ick ick ick ick ick ick' was him tickling the baby and saying "tickle, tickle, tickle."<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/privateeyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="private eyes"><br><br>
Oh. I just thought he was trying to torture her.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"><br><br>
:LOL<br><br><br><br><br><br>
Have found, though, that when baby is at an age when they can actually grab a hunk of hair and hang on, for example, the contact-behavior issues of the 2+yo usually lessen.<br><br>
In other words, once they've had their hair yanked by the baby a few times, they tend to stop getting in the baby's face. Kind of like Darshani's comments ...<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br><br><br><br>
I honestly don't think they want to be rough. They (IMO) are playing. In their view, it looks like playing, it feels like playing ... and they may get frustrated when their playing makes the baby cry.<br><br>
All you can do (IMO again) is keep reminding, and occasionally redirect when it gets too crazy. And I try (though often forget) to accompany the reminders and redirections specifically with hugs and displays of affection for the toddler, so that they don't feel like every time they're near the baby they're getting "no'd" and corrected, IYKWIM.
 

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I think the older one is testing things, seeing what this 'baby' person is all about. My older son is generally very gentle with the baby, but every once in awhile he'll do something totally out of left field, and from his actions and tone of voice and facial expression, I can see that he is just curious as to what will happen when he does X. For instance, the other day I turned around and saw him standing next to the baby with his hand raised, and a train in his hand. I asked him what he was doing and he said "I'm going to hit the baby." It's like he wanted to see what would happen - he knows what happens if he hits me, he knows what happens if he hits the couch, but doesn't know what happens if he hits the baby.<br><br>
No real words of advice except to try to never leave them alone together. Like I said, ds1 is generally very gentle and loving and kind towards ds2, but I'm still not taking any chances.
 

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It's reassuring to hear that lack of personal space is a common theme here...dd always prefers to be right in ds's face, giving him 2 minute-long kisses, huge bear hugs that are a bit much for a baby, etc.<br><br>
At first I was annoyed, but then I thought well heck, grownups love cuddling babies so I'm sure dd wants to too! Probably all of the attractive things about babies that makes you want to touch them - soft skin, wispy hair, general cuteness - are equally attractive to toddlers. I try to be more understanding of her attempts to cuddle, but I do have to watch them!
 

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My 2 Ds's are 27 mos and almost 4 months and my 2 yr old does the exact same things. He always wants to "hug" his brother, "see Ezra", "play with Ezra" "give Ezra toys" and all this translates into poke, spit at, lick, lay on, scream at, pile toys on top of, sneeze in the face of, and ferociousely hug Ezra. Sigh. I correct and redirect until I am blue in the face. I find that if Ezra is in the sling, it is a bit better. I too hope it will pass soon. I can tell though that ds#1 loves his brother, and Ezra just lights up whenever big bro is near. So, I do think its normal, although it sure is a strange way to build a relationship with a sibling. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I don't have much time right now, but I just wanted to check in and thank you ALL for your replies. I am already feeling comforted by your words. Sounds like all of us are going through (or have gone through) the same thing with the "affection" for our babies.<br><br>
I'll write more when I can later... <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
musikat-Maybe it is the age,and not solely the sibling thing. My DS does the exact same things as yours. The baby doesn't seem to mind much. But I do. And now it seems like DS knows what pushes my buttons, of course with the baby. So if I'm tired, or he's tired, he pushes more.<br><br>
Darshani-It's totally a personal space thing. DS is always touching, poking, trying to lick the baby. Very rarely will he just hang out near him for a minute or two w/out touching. I hate pushing DS away from the baby, but I really feel that I have to. I've tried saying less about all the little things. Like close talking, wet kisses, etc. And really only moving DS away when he's clearly going to hurt the baby (by accident, I guess).<br><br>
Then, there's the stuff I deem "weird". Like the grabbing of the baby's hand to wipe his mouth, rubbing his face all over the baby's, etc. I may have to let that go, too. B/c I think the more I make a big deal about it, the more Ds knows it makes me crazy. And, well, we all know what happens when they know what makes us crazy.irked:<br><br>
merpk-I'm so happy to know that is seems like my boy is normal. Sometimes I wonder...<br><br>
Ocean-I very rarely even step away from them together. I completely agree with you. Although DS really wants to know that I trust him with the baby. So, when I'm changing the baby I'll ask him if he wants to "babysit". Which means that I walk to the bookshelf or put clothes away in the same room and DS feels like I trust him (Which I don't of course!). He'll actually say, "Mommy, can you walk around?"<br><br>
Mere-With my DS, it is a personal space issue. He has issues with this with friends,too. I really like what you said about how enticing a baby is. Gosh, I just want to cuddle my little babe all the time (I have to steal these cuddles when my older DS is sleeping or in another room!). So I need to start looking at this from his perspective more often.<br><br>
mamapajama-Everything you mention, my DS does to the baby. But the baby adores his brother. He just recently started realizing that he can crane his neck and see his brother more clearly as they sit in the back seat of the car. He literally lights up watching his brother. It is amazing.
 

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My boys are 3.5 years apart, and I never dealt with any of what y'all are describing. My older boy was always a doting brother and gave the baby lots of attention, but it was almost "adult" in manner.<br><br>
I'm thinking it could be because my older boy is not a huggy/kissy/cuddly person, and wasn't even as a baby. Too much snuggling made him "colicky." He refused the breast at 6 months. He was never one to sit on laps or want to be held unless he was sick, and even then he'd prefer to sit next to you rather than on you. Bedtime hugs were a barely-touching, pat-on-the-back sort of deal.
 

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I have a 3 and one-half yr old boy and a ten month old girl and am experiencing the same thing. I agree...it's normal...but what bothers me is my response to this type of normal behavior. I find myself screaming at my son...which I hate and it's breaking my heart... I am trying my darndest to treat the whole situation better...the screaming definitely doesn't stop his roughness so I know it doesn't help...its just that my instincts to fend for my baby are a little too, er, strong, I guess? It is totally a knee-jerk type reaction on my part....my body almost senses that my baby is in mortal danger..I know that's extreme but that's how I react! My poor son! is anybody else dealing with this sort of screming-at-the older-one overreaction syndrome? I would love to get some pointers on how to tone my reactions down.
 

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Yes, I do the same thing: scream at my son when he is rough to the baby. It's like I have zero patience for that and I scream before I think. I feel horrible abt it, and I think it makes my 2 yr old act even worse. Actually, my patience for my incredibly spirited two yr. old has reached an all time low,and his incredibly trying behavior has reached an all time high, so I'm sure its connected. Definitely not feeling like the mom I want to be these days.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">Yes, I do the same thing: scream at my son when he is rough to the baby. It's like I have zero patience for that and I scream before I think. I feel horrible abt it, and I think it makes my 2 yr old act even worse. Actually, my patience for my incredibly spirited two yr. old has reached an all time low,and his incredibly trying behavior has reached an all time high, so I'm sure its connected. Definitely not feeling like the mom I want to be these days.</div>
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I sometimes lose it too. Nitara is a sick baby and had been through so much pain, continues to not feel well a lot of the time. I just hate to have her big sister constantly annoying and hurting her. That mama bear in me comes out.<br><br>
Darshani
 

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this might not be the advice you want to hear, but yes I have BTDT, and I dealt with it by having a continuous "be gentle" campaign with the rough child, plus, it is your responsibility to never leave them unsupervised, even for a second, and to separate them if necessary with a gate or something. My DS was so rough with his little sister (whome he adored, btw) that she was actually bruised from time to time and I was worried someone might this I was abusing her! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"><br><br>
When he was old enough to understand, I would tell him that if he hit, shoved, kicked, or pushed his sister, I would assume he had a tummy ache (which was causing his bad behavior) and he would have to eat a fennel seed or drink chamomile tea. Which for a picky eater is a terrible consequence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Mountain-Thanks for your honest words and commiseration. YES, I think you are absolutely right about the instinct coming out in you. With our first or previous children, they could be THE central thing in our world. Their safety was KEY. And it seems so normal that our anger would come out so quickly b/c we're still hormonally tied into protecting the littlest one. I think there must be some biological/hormonal basis. Or maybe this is just the excuse I'm coming up with in my head??? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/headscratch.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="headscratch"><br><br>
mamapajama- <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2"> I'm right there with you. Although things have gotten a bit better for me as the months have gone on (my little one is now 4 mos). I think the first month was challenging for other reasons, and then after that it got a little out of control discipline-wise around here with my older son. Now, I am having more better days then before, which is a plus. It is so tough. So tough.<br><br>
meowee-I am on a gentel campaign. But my bigger one just doesn't care most of the time. I praise for everything that is even remotely gentle. And lately I've been trying to ignore as much as possible. Thinking that maybe it's become all about getting negative attention. But there's only so much I can let go. I try to pretend that I am not paying attention to them sitting in front of me on the floor so my older DS will feel that I trust him. But when he's blown in his face for the 20th time and the baby's eyes are blinking and he's on the verge of tears, well, I have to put an end to it.<br><br>
Pumpkin-I sing this little song with "welcome to my world" as the lyrics to my DH on the weekends. I'll be taking a shower or getting ready in the morning and DH will be downstairs with the kids. I'll come down and he'll say "DS#1 did such-and-such to DS#2 and blah, blah, blah". And I just nod my head and sing my song. He is a very tuned in daddy, but I'll tell ya. They just have no clue if they ain't here every day!
 

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:LOL I do exactly the same thing. I left dh with the two of them for only 2 hours last weekend and when I came home my husband was ready to have a stroke... I said,<br><br>
Welcome to my world...<br><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Bearsmama</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Pumpkin-I sing this little song with "welcome to my world" as the lyrics to my DH on the weekends. I'll be taking a shower or getting ready in the morning and DH will be downstairs with the kids. I'll come down and he'll say "DS#1 did such-and-such to DS#2 and blah, blah, blah". And I just nod my head and sing my song. He is a very tuned in daddy, but I'll tell ya. They just have no clue if they ain't here every day!</div>
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Oh, USAmma, I would have NO patience, I think, if my babe had a rough start. Or was continuuing to have problems. Mama bear would be working non-stop.
 

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I tend to freak out on my older boy- he is always 'loving' the baby.<br>
i have a friend with three boys and the middle one is a terror to the baby but mama is chill.... and baby is always fine.<br>
i wish i could be more like her.... i totally 'protect'- even when not really necessary
 

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For those of you who are feeling bad about your reactions to your older child - I recommend an essay "I love you both unequally" in the book Mother's Who Think - it is a very moving essay on the author's natural need to protect her infant and how is does (and must) impact the relationship you have with your big kid. I read it when my ds2 was about 6 weeks old and felt like the author had written it FOR ME - nothing else I have read on parenting has provided me with as much comfort as that essay.<br><br>
To the op - I think this is pretty common though my boys are 3.5 years apart and I didn't really experience it when my ds2 was an infant (now that he is 18 months my little guy has hit or pushed my big boy a couple of times though - it seems to make my baby CRAZY when my older son sits on my lap and he throws his hip and shoulder into trying to push him off)<br><br>
One thing that I did that I think helped somewhat is that I made ds1 the safety police - whenever anybody (child or adult) came over it was his job to show them how to be gentle with his brother (only touch/kiss his feet, give him soft toys, etc.) He took alot of pride in this role which was great (except for when one of our parents or elderly relatives would try to kiss the baby on the face and ds1 would tell them to stop so his borther wouldn't get sick <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/blush.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="blush"> )<br><br>
I also bought him a baby doll which we used to model positive behavior (difficulty sharing and grabbing things out of his brother's hands has been a VERY difficult hurdle for my big kid - which is probably why my little guy smacks him <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"> )<br><br>
HTH<br>
BJ<br>
Barney & Ben
 
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