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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
my nephew (dn) is being raised primarily by his mom and her family who believe in things like CIO and 'be tough' 'learn to fight your way out' etc. every other weekend plus about 5 hours during the week, he stays with my brother (and my parents) who are more gentle. i know it must be so hard for him to try and fit into 2 different families and to behave in the 'accepted' way or else be diciplined or teased-- even though it's probably the right way to act at the other house. dn is 31 months old. my ds is 20 mos old.<br><br>
the problem i have is when my mom or brother bring dn over here, he is so hard to deal with (often they just show up or mention they are coming but not that dn is with them--usually when they can't occupy him anymore at their house). he throws things, kicks things, yells and screams to the point of veins popping out in his neck. he also did a running headbutt that knocked ds right down on the ground. absolutely no provocation.<br><br>
now, ds is not the perfect child of course, but playdates with any of our friends are NEVER like this. ds looked so sad- he made this puppy dog face i have never seen him make when his cousin knocked him over, he's never had anyone treat him meanly on purpose like that. the whole time dn was here, poor ds looked like he was on eggshells.<br><br>
my questions is this:<br>
if this was a friend, i would not put ds around him anymore. we would avoid playdates because i worry about the violent and mean behavior. but since it's a relative it's stickier. what would you do? do you think occasional experiences like this are bad for ds emotionally or is it worse to just not see his cousin much (if at all)? we try to be calm and gd with him, but i see him for a few hours a month so it just doesn't have much impact.
 

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It sounds like your nephew needs as many positive influences in his life as possible. At only a few hours a month, you may not be able to impact his short-term behavioral issues, but you can still let him know there are other people who care about him and NOT all grownups are violent. In the long run, this can have a powerful affect on him and his self-esteem.<br><br>
I also don't see how your own son is seriously hurt by seeing his cousin a few hours a month. If this was several times a week I'd feel differently about it. I do suggest that when both boys are together, they are CONSTANTLY supervised, I wouldn't have them more than a few feet away from a grownup at all times. You need to make sure that your DS feels safe when his cousin is over.<br><br>
Also keep in mind that your nephew might be naturally more aggressive and active than your son- even if he was disciplined gently all the time, he might still act this way. GD doesn't solve everything, and there's no proof that his mother "made him like this." Certainly, "rough" discipline isnt' helping matters, but GD might not be the perfect solution either. Try not to judge his mother too harshly.<br><br>
I do think it's fair that your brother and/or your parents should let you know when DN is coming over with them, and not just surprise you when they arrive. This can give you time to mentally prepare, and possibly to do some "nephew proofing" of the house before they arrive, if you feel that removing certain items would limit the chance of DN being destructive with them.
 

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My nephew sounds very much like yours. He and dd2 are only 10 days apart in age. The toddler years were really tough. I just made sure I was always right by dd to intercept any scary behaviors. My dd was super timid and I think the time spent with lots of supervision actually helped her rather than harmed her in any way. They are both nine now and the best of friends. You will need to make sure that your mom and brother are on the same page as you as far as being very hands on.. Also go outside as much as possible.
 

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When they call and say they are coming over, i'd be asking every time if dn is with them. If he is, sorry, but we're not interested in a playdate today.<br><br>
If they show up unannounced, I'd be saying "Oh, we were just headed out! Have some errands to run. Sorry you can't stay!" and high tail it out of there.<br><br>
Yes, it's stickier because it's family, but it sounds like they don't want to deal with him anymore and are pawning him off on you. If you aren't comfortable laying ground rules for him in your home (ie, no screaming, no hitting, etc.), then you have to do what you have to do to jkeep your child safe and secure.
 

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What does your brother do when DN acts like that? Could you talk with your brother to brainstorm possible solutions to this problem?
 

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I wonder if the more punitive discipline he's getting from his mother's family is what is causing him to act out when he's with his father in a more supportive environment. In any event, it depends on how close you are with your brother. Can you sit down and have a heart-to-heart with him? Just tell him your concerns (he probably won't be surprised) agree that he'll tell you when dn will be with him and also give him some tips on things that he may be able to do to help dn vent his emotions in a more constructive manner. I understand that you were most concerned about the effect on your DS and, although a very valid concern, I think your dn is the one who seems to need the most help right now. While I agree that some children are more physical than others, there still has to be some sort of an underlying reason for children to be overtly aggressive. Then again, if your brother is just trying to offload your dn on you when he gets out of hand and he doesn't want to do anything about it, I would probably cut back on the visits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks for the thoughtful responses, everyone.<br><br>
our family is not the best at talking honestly- everyone gets bent out of shape so easily that it's hard for me to talk to them, i'm so worried i will offend them! i know my mom and brother are working on the behaviors with him and i can tell they are embarassed about his behavior. my brother does try to correct dn's behavior, but he only sees dn for a few hours each week, plus he's only 20 and doesn't have much experience with children so that makes it harder.<br><br>
it's not so much they are dumping him off on me, it's more that they've exhausted the stuff to do at their place and we have lots of stuff and space here. they do actually keep on top of dn for the most part.<br><br>
my big concern for dn is that i do think he is unusually aggressive. i can handle it now, but i do worry about the future. i guess i'll cross that bridge when we get there!
 

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i just wanted to say that i am a gentle mother and my dh and i practice gd. when i read some of the behaviors you described of your nephew though - you could have been describing my own son. daniel has finally stopped tantrums, headbutting, etc....after FOUR years though. wow! let me just say...it is <i><b>very</b></i> hard to be the parent of a highly spirited child. i definitely do not think your nephew is being disciplined right BUT do not be so quick to chalk it up solely to bad parenting. some kids honestly have more explosive personalities. "the explosive child" is a very good book and i would highly recommend it for your family. it is really wonderful and can help your sweet nephew. good luck mama!<br><br><br>
i wanted to come back and mention food allergies or sensitivites!!! honest to goodness, if my son has red dye ~ he is insane!! it has no reaction on my dd though, just ds. we just discovered this recently and have cut it from his diet completely. what a HUGE difference!
 

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Like Ruthla said, even GD kids can act agressively (or go through periods of difficult behavior), so just try to keep that in mind <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">.<br><br>
Also, you will run into this at many levels as a parent. This is just the first- the kid at pre-school who introduces your son to rough play and naughty words, the grade school friend they seem to love but never seems to play nicely and always is getting into trouble, the middle school bully... ya know?<br><br>
I think part of it is teaching your child how to respond- giving them words and actions as to how to deal with kids that are not treating them properly. Setting down what words and actions are acceptable for them.<br><br>
It is totally acceptable as well to set down rules for in your own house and enforce them (gently, of course <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">) with your dn. In other words, in your home, you do not have to continually defer to wait for your brother to intervene. Maybe by letting your dn know what the rules are, that you are in charge and then maybe give him words also to express what he is feeling, things might lighten up... And you might be a good role model for your brother.
 

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I just want to add my experience to this. There was a kid in my older child's co-op preschool class who was very gently disciplined, but who was consistently aggressive to the other kids (even at the age of 5 1/2). One kid's parents actually may have withdrawn her from the school because of him, though we'll probably never know for sure. The other co-op moms tended to chalk his unfortunate behavior up to gentle discipline, actually. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
So, yeah, it could easily be his temperament.<br><br>
Nealy<br>
mama to T, 5; L, 2; and EDD 12/20/08
 
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