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Old 10-23-2006, 10:09 AM   #1
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Aggressive 4yo

My oldest ds will be 4 in Dec. and I also have a 1yo ds. My 4yo has become very aggresive with the 1yo. Today I found him holding him around the neck and my 1yo was screaming.
Other than this incident, he will tackle him, hit him, pinch him, take toys away from him, kick him, you name it. I know he's doing it for attention but I CAN'T let him do this. Usually we put him in time out and take stuff away from him.
What else can I do? I need this behavior to stop NOW before my 1yo gets seriously hurt.

Anyone have any advice?

Thanks!!!!

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Old 10-23-2006, 11:45 AM   #2
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Re: Aggressive 4yo

All I can say, is that at four, he knows this is not O.K. A four year old has impulse problems, but they know that purposely hitting a baby is not OK.

So, first, you can try removing the frustration. You keep on your toes and make sure that the baby doesn't annoy your four year old. Some kids have personal space issues. If the four yr old is playing nicely, then you need to make sure that the one year old leaves him alone. This sounds easy, but it isn't. You will be exhausted.

Then when he hits just for the sake of hitting, you take the baby, and go sit on the couch to comfort him. Say NOTHING to your four year old. But, sit down and read him a book, feed him, whatever...then when your four year old wants your attention explain that you can't right now, because you have to take care of Baby's owies.

Your four year old might need something else. Maybe a team sport, a playgroup, a Gym class. Kids occasionally need a "thing". For my daughter it was gymboree at this age. Some kids love Karate, or Gymnastics, or soccer.

I hope you get it under control because a child who thinks that hurting his baby brother is fine, will just keep being agressive.

Keep in mind, that it is kinda fun, he may just want to "roughhouse" not really hurt him. Maybe he is just looking for an outlet to wrestle. SInce baby brother is available, and by age one, he's probably looking like a good wrestling partner to your four year old. Roughhousing is fun and boys seem to crave it.
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Old 10-24-2006, 12:49 AM   #3
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Re: Aggressive 4yo

I feel for you! My 4yo can be aggressive, too, usually when he's having a hard time expressing his feelings verbally.

I agree that your ds might need some more playtime with daddy or someone who can handle his aggression, but not just because he's four. Have you heard of "Playful Parenting"? Excellent book! Aggressive play really helps a child deal with his feelings of powerlessness, when done with patience, compassion and understanding. It's totally understandable that he have negative feelings toward the baby who has taken so much of mommy's time over the last year. And have there been any other recent changes or added stresses in the household?

Unfortunately, putting him in time-out and taking away toys just repeats the message that he's less important to you than his brother. Also, if he's taking toys away from his brother and you don't want him to do that, you're giving him mixed messages. It makes no sense to a 4yo why it should be okay for parent to punish by taking toys, but not okay for him to do it to his brother.

IMO, it's really important to be PRO-active in this situation. Make sure your ds is getting as much of your POSITIVE attention as you can spare, before he's acting out. Frequent eye contact throughout the day, active listening, immediately responding to his requests for attention, not "gimme a minute, I have to change brother's diaper." Consciously respond to him as a top priority throughout the day, not just after the baby's asleep. It can be really easy to think that our big boys don't need us as much as the baby does -- and they don't need the same amount of time -- but they DO need to still trust that they can get our attention quickly and easily when they need it.

That said, next time he acts out toward his brother, comfort the baby first. Say to ds, "Hear how he's crying? It hurt Baby/made him mad when you did XXX, didn't it? You must have been feeling pretty angry/frustrated to do XXX. Can you think of something else you could do next time you get so mad? Something that won't hurt your brother?" He might not be able to answer, but you can throw ideas out -- come tell Mommy if you need help, punch a pillow, throw a stuffed animal at the bed. Then be sure to give him a hug if he'll let you, and remind him that you love him even when he's mad, but you have to protect Baby from getting hurt just like you protect him from getting hurt by other people, too.

He might turn his anger toward you, but that's okay -- you're the grown-up, you can tell him, you can handle it. And once he's let it all out, and you're working to prevent it building up again, it'll be MUCH better. If he still can't talk or cry about it, then you just have to be patient. Trust that it will get better, Act as though it IS getting better, and it WILL get better.

I really hope this helps and doesn't sound like a bunch of gobbledy-gook.
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Old 10-24-2006, 03:24 AM   #4
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Re: Aggressive 4yo


I really don't have any big suggestions. BUT.....I would seriously doubt coddling the baby and ignoring the 4 yr old while he watches you coddle the baby on the couch probably isn't going to create any positive outcomes.

I think it's attention seeking behavior. Kids do it even if the attention is completely negative. More time with Mom, more time with Dad, ect, ect.
Please don't ignore the 4 yr old even if he's been "bad". You won't like the outcome. Just my
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Old 10-24-2006, 08:28 AM   #5
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Re: Aggressive 4yo

Thanks ladies!!!!!
He is a very high-spirited boy and I feel that much of my attention goes to him. As a result, I have a very independant 1yo. Time out and taking toys away doesn't happen very often around here. I am a bit of a "pushover" mom in that, they don't get in trouble a whole lot. BUT they know when they've crossed the line.
I think he needs something else to do. Sports, gymnastics, karate (we are signing him up in Dec.), swimming, something that's just for him and doesn't include his brother. I know that that's the problem. He constantly needs to be doing something and, with a 1yo, that's not possible in the house.
I really appreciate the help!!!!!! If anyone else has any ideas, I would love to hear them!

THANKS!!!!!
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