5 year old male cousin with ODD taunts/hurts my 4 yr old

Ellie - posted on 04/01/2013 ( 8 moms have responded )

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My daughter is less than 2 months shy of turning 5, where her male cousin turned 5 about 2 weeks ago. We went to his party where he met us at the door, grabbed his present and ran away to open it. When he was done opening it he asked me if that was the only thing we'd brought for him.

His mom (my hubby's sister) just brushed it off saying his grandparents had brought him a ton of stuff etc. Over a year ago she had told me he was having so many problems at his daycare that they were saying he may have ODD and they needed to use some kind of program for him etc. (they never did.) He would get very angry with other kids, bite and hit and have explosive tantrums. One time we visited their house and he freaked because my daughter sat in "his chair."

My daughter loves her cousin and always wants to see him and play with him; he tells her (on many occasions) that she is "annoying." Yesterday he told me to my face that she annoys him. This isn't something new -- he told her the same thing on his birthday when she wanted to play with him. He met her at the grandparents house yesterday for Easter dinner with "I'm 5 so I'm bigger than you, I can tell you what to do." and would HARP on this even though my husband and I told him on separate occasions and repeatedly that it was not a nice thing to say and he should stop it. (His parents weren't paying a stick of attention.) He has two older brothers, one 8 and one 13. They were there and told me they find HIM annoying etc.

Taunting and namecalling and all of that may be "typical" for a bratty type 5 year old, but this child also HURTS my daughter and has done on many occasions. He will get so angry that he hits her, pushes, bites, pinches, and yesterday he kicked her in the face and gave her a bloody nose. That was the last straw for me, especially since his mother and father acted like it was no big deal. His mother kept trying to explain to the family present that, "they have a love/hate relationship." I think she is not seeing it clearly at all -- my daughter basically loves her cousin and he "hates" her. He is never kind to her or nice to her. He taunts her and makes fun of her and then she starts calling him names back. It's horrible behavior and he's a bad example to her.

They are in the same day care and heading to the same school for kindergarten. they are not in the same "class" at daycare but see each other in the yard to play. My daughter told me that he does not want to play with her and rejects her all the time. Interestingly, she still says she loves him and wants to play with him because he's her cousin (I have this fear she will grow up to be in abusive relationships because I'm trying to teach her that no one is allowed to assault her or treat her badly, but she is so loving to everyone.)

Another thing is tomorrow I'm going to ask the director of the daycare to make sure the two of them are not ever alone together or allowed to play together. this kid basically scares me now. he is more self absorbed than any other kid I know his age (and there ARE nice male children at her daycare who are very nice to her.) She had been injured last year and broke a bone and every kid in her class surrounded her and hugged her when she came back to "school." Her cousin saw her and ignored her. Not a word, not a sound, nothing at all. I watched him through the window and he definitely saw her and then went back to playing.

His mom also makes excuses such as "he likes to play alone" and stuff like that. yesterday I have to tell you, his mom told his father to have a talk with him after he kicked my daughter in the face, and when he emerged from the room he looked at us and gave us all this HUGE smile and then said, "Why is everyone looking at me?" He didn't seem sad, sorry, upset, or anything. He had to be told to apologize for hurting her which he did and promptly walked away to go play. It's like he has no sense of empathy or understanding at all.

Not to mention he was defiant to me, contradicted me, did not listen to anything I said to him and talked over me, asserting HIS point of view as the superseding one. When my husband entered the room after he'd kicked my daughter, her cousin actually told him, "she wasn't doing what I told her to."

All the blame is always deflected to someone else. he taunts and bullies and is just an extremely bratty, unpleasant child.

I am thinking all i can really do is keep them apart. the parents are clueless and don't want to admit their son has some problems relating to others, though they are aware to some extent because the daycare brought it to them even before our daughter went there. I am afraid to ever have her alone with him, and his 8 yr old brother has also almost hurt her a few times by putting her on a running treadmill ("to see how fast she could run") while she screamed for us to come help her because she couldn't keep up, and we found him fondling some BBQ sharps on the basement stairs once, not to mention he also tried to get her to climb up onto the railing of their deck which is a good 5+ feet off the ground.

I do not know what's going on in that family, but everything is "let them get hurt, then they will learn not to do it again" or "oh, they're just boys" and all of this constant deflecting.

This is family and I hate to deny my child access to family, but if someone is hurting her then I don't care if people think I'm "overprotective." This boy's dad on more than one occasion has reprimanded my husband and I for being "helicopter parents" and likes to think he is an authority because he has 3 kids and we only have 1 (never mind that my sister has 4 or that the kids' great grandmother had 17 kids. Sheesh.

I don't know exactly what I'm asking here, but maybe what would YOU do? Would you approach the parents? Would you place "blame" on the child and the parents or just the parents? Would you separate them and not let anyone know why? How would you explain this to your daughter, as it is for her safety that we have to separate them?

This little boy doesn't get punished as far as I can tell for anything he does. His mom is full of excuses and his father, though he does try to talk to him rationally about the issue at hand, doesn't get through. I might add that when the 8 yr old found it amusing to tell me I have a "big butt" on numerous occasions with his father present, his father never said one word about it being a rude and inappropriate thing to say to your elder and your Aunt. It was pretty appalling. The idea was, "he says it to his mom, too." Sorry but if he wants to be abusive to his mother, that's between you but *I* am not his mother and should not be subjected to this ridiculous garbage. Since he was never reprimanded about it, he continues to do it.

your thoughts?

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MissMommyMay - posted on 06/17/2013

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If anyone treated my son that way family or not i would NEVER allow them to see my precious lil one...
til they shaped up...if that ever were possible!

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Ellie - posted on 10/06/2013

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My SIL "feels" that her kids are being rejected, but I don't "feel" it, I have hard facts and witnesses of harm being done to my child. To me, that's different than just having feelings or being swayed by feelings. I kept trying to get the kids to play together and it's actually my husband who finally said NO, he didn't want them together anymore because all the wishful thinking in the world wasn't going to change what was happening. He knows his sister way better than I do, and she's a drama queen (and I don't use that term lightly since I don't like women portrayed as being automatically histrionic -- but this woman actually does go to extremes in moods and behaviors and interpretations.) I wrote her an email explaining all my reasons, including the one where my daughter can be overly "lovey dovey" with her son and that can be beyond his threshold. It's like she doesn't want to even admit that THAT is the case sometimes but then tells me after he has hurt her, "he likes to play alone sometimes." Well why not just teach him to walk away or go to his mom instead of hitting, biting or pinching? She also said he was suspected as having Oppositional Defiant Disorder and his daycare was concerned because at 2 he was biting kids and couldn't control his anger. When we first met him at 2, he was pummeling his parents and grandparents with his fists when he didn't get his way. I have tried thinking the best, wishful wishful thinking, and I even got myself into denial that he was a problem.

Yes, we do tell the boys when something is unacceptable, but they don't care. I told the one boy that he was being rude and should not say things like that to me. I told the youngest that he needed to stop taunting my daughter. My husband even told him and his mom heard and gave him a look like he had 3 heads. When the youngest kicked my daughter in the face my husband even said what he did and my SIL looked at him like he's just killed her cat. Like he was lying. She can not accept that her kids do anything unkind or mean, yet she will write about how her youngest just insulted his dying great grandmother (and then she says that it was okay because Granny has a "good sense of humor.") In my book, it's not okay. In hers, it's a joke or something cute and funny. Not everything her kids say is meant in jest or is cute and funny.

I was volunteering at the school and the middle nephew came up to me and said, "What are YOU doing here?" in a snide way. No smile, no friendliness, no "Hello" even. Just an accusatory line and then a shrug and he walked away. I've never done anything to hurt these kids or even be mean to them. There's no reason I should be treated with such disrespect.

Cooperation would work if their mother was the sort of person who was open to it, but she's set against the idea that her boys are anything but adorable and saintly.

I know what you mean about girls going after the more sensitive boys, but this boy isn't the sensitive one. He's a very rough and tumble, in your face kind of boy. My daughter has friends who are sweet, good natured, friendly and gentle boys and she has no problems with them. They don't mind playing with her. Her cousin though, is always playing soccer with the more athletic boys and doing more physical contact type stuff. They're just not compatible that way and I'm fine with that, I just don't want them playing together because it's not safe anymore since his mom has not taught him how to behave himself.

Somehow everything that is wrong with everyone else is blamed on me. I'm not just imagining this, my father in law actually called us the other day and yelled at us and said that I am "destroying the family." Which is all the more hurtful because it was my husband who actually put his foot down about the kids playing and would say no even when I brought it up and said maybe we could watch them etc. he was absolutely against it, but I get the "blame."

Ariana - posted on 09/25/2013

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Has anyone tried to consider trying cooperation instead of attacking?

The one thing we both know is that you can't change other peoples behavior, only your own. I agree you shouldn't let them play unsupervised, so if you're at their home your daughter needs to stay with you, or you need to stay around all the children when she's with them. You can train people how they can act around you, and train your daughter how to act.

If you are supervising them and you see him acting a certain way and no one is doing anything about it go to your daughter and tell her to move away, or leave. If your nephews say rude things to you and no one does anything about it tell him you don't appreciate being talked to like that and if no one stops him then leave the room. You said he was never reprimanded for it and continues but did YOU tell him you disapprove and walk away or ignore him?

Although they may not be acting the way you want you are in control of how you respond to these actions and how you train your daughter to respond. She continues to go towards people who treat her unfairly, if anything having her near him, and training her that when he acts like this she is responsible for moving away, is actually a skill.

Maybe your sister-in-law is in denial and has a ton of issues, now everyone is sensitive and upset. It may be helpful to go talk to her and tell her your concerns in a non-confrontation, non-judgemental way. They feel you're helicopter parents, you feel they're much to lenient, is there a way both concerns can be helped?

She's upset because she feels you are rejecting her and her children. You're upset because you feel your child is being mistreated and more importantly injured. What can be done? Maybe talking to her and telling her you like her and the boys (some part of you surely likes some aspect of them... lie if you have to...) you are just concerned about the physical injuries (try to only touch on the most important issue, don't go into all the other things, that isn't as important and harder to define).

Just say you worry about that and you don't like the pinching/hitting/kicking and you're sure that she too doesn't want him acting like that. Is there something you can both do to help? What can you two do in a situation like that? Try to get her to connect with you instead of attacking her and maybe you two will be able to work out a system. Agree that the kids won't be left unsupervised, or possibly agree if any hitting occurs they will then both be separated for the rest of the evening.

I understand how irritating that must be for you but on the other side you have no idea if your daughter is goading him and he clearly has stated he doesn't like her. Not that that is ever an excuse to hit anyone but imagine if your daughter constantly told a boy at school that she didn't like him, didn't want him around, avoided being with him and he wouldn't stop. That would be irritating. I know at a daycare I always saw this one girl probe and push (not physically but just bug bug bug) this boy who was more sensitive than others. Of course the boy retaliated and was not overly great to begin with, but the dynamic was the girl KNEW this boy was sensitive and would go over and bother him until he snapped.

I'm not saying that's the situation here, but you have to remember that there are two sides to every story, and maybe she is more in the wrong, but that doesn't mean we need to become uncooperative and negative back.

Anyway, sometimes just sitting down and talking things out in a non-combative way can do wonders to settling a situation out. You have to be willing to be flexible and take things from them and see what they're concerned about instead of also becoming defensive when they become defensive. Be the better person and try to work together and talk things out.

Ellie - posted on 09/24/2013

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Update: I mentioned not wanting the kids together to my MIL who somehow told the boy's father who told his mother who came over that night (NIGHT! Like after 9pm!) to yell at her brother (my hubby) and then wrote me a nasty email. She called us "immature" and "unfit" and that it's "normal" for kids to do stuff like this and since she's been a mom for 13 years and she's a pediatric nurse she knows more than we do and how we're being "childish".

Seriously. This actually happened. Then she sent me a photo of the kids smiling at each other and titled it, "You break my heart."

Talk about ignorant, in denial and manipulative. She's gone off on us and says I don't accept her son as he is and I told her, no I can't accept any kid who is hostile and hurts my child over and over.

I have talked to a couple of doctors and other professionals and even some moms and they all said the same thing: It's NOT normal, and that I am right to keep her away.

Anyway, my sister in law is obviously sensitive about it and even her mother was telling my daughter, after she said this boy "is mean", my MIL told her, "No, he's nice!" So that's like saying that someone who pinches, taunts, kicks you in the face and makes your nose bleed and breaks your toys is "nice." What a lesson for a girl these days --- set them up for domestic abuse later.

This family is so manipulative and gossipy and none of them respect my opinions or my husband's.

Laura - posted on 07/19/2013

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I see more than one problem here....the 5 year old nephew is clearly out of his own control. He needs consistent discipline, but unless his parents are onboard, nothing is going to change. Kindergarten will a real eyeopener for all concerned, but he isn't the largest of the problems I see. You can only protect your daughter from him. Keeping her safe is not helicoperting.

However, its time to teach your daughter that she can't control mean people; she just needs to stay away from him. Explain that you can't pick family, but you can control your reactions to them; 5 isn't too young for this lesson. Its time for her to develop some backbone and not see herself always as the victim of these boys.. Some of this she would learn if she had the sibling "process", but since she doesn't, she will need some guidance in dealing with bullies and rude people. It sounds to me that she wants everyone to like her, so she'll just keep trying all the while continuing to take their crap. She needs to know this isn't healthy for her and that everyone isn't going to like her and she doesn't have to like everyone.

I don't think you should avoid family events. Let your daughter know you are there for her if her cousins' behavior threatens her in any way. They can play where you or another trusted adult can see them....no closed doors or wandering off. If a problem comes up its time to go home....if questioned, tell the truth "Bobby pinched and hit Suzie. She doesn't deserve that. You won't teach him any better, so we'll just remove ourselves". If another occasion comes along where the cousins should be invited, think about not inviting them. If questioned, tell them why. "Your boys tore up my daughter's room and broke her things. That behavior isn't allowed in my house. You saw the mess and chose to ignore it. I won't risk that again". So basically you need to have a more direct approach rather than what sounds passive-aggressive in your narrative. None of these people are going to "get it" unless it is bluntly stated by both words & actions..

Ellie - posted on 06/23/2013

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Thanks for the comments. I recently spent some time at the daycare on a special day where parents were allowed to come in and do an activity with the children and when we were out in the play yard I saw my nephew with a group of kids from his class playing soccer. He and another boy were on one side with the ball and he'd put it down to kick it when the other boy kicked it instead. This seemed to make him furious because he went over and hit the boy across his back. The teacher saw this and reprimanded him and his reaction was at first anger, then he started crying (just for a minute because I think he was crying due to being angry/frustrated/caught rather than for being sorry for hitting the other boy.) I also went to an indoor playground with the daycare on another occasion and my nephew again in the soccer area would take the ball and throw himself down on top of it and wouldn't let any other kids have it or play with it. He did this repeatedly (is that typical?). He was at our place for my daughter's birthday and he gave her her present in a gift bag and told her what it was before she could open it. He then asked me where her toys were because he wanted to play with them. Her grandmother had given her some special candy she likes and he wanted that, too. Then he eventually ended up in her room with his brothers and they trashed her room and her dollhouse and toys. I literally had to step out of the house because I was going to lose it big time. This entire time their parents were downstairs eating and having coffee. The mom came up and looked at them trashing everything and went back downstairs without telling them off.

I do not let the kids play together unsupervised and we have had to resort to declining family gatherings (BBQ's, Father's Day, relatives in town so far) to avoid being around my nephews. It's really sad and I wish it wasn't this way, but I can not trust these kids. My husband mentioned it very lightly to his mother that he worried about our nephew hurting our daughter and she pretty much got furious with him for even thinking anything. It's funny how the victim gets no sympathy, just the perpetrator.

I will be watching like a hawk this school year as the school has strict rules about respect and peaceful behavior.

Vickie - posted on 06/06/2013

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I don't think approaching the parents will help, it sounds like they have given up on disciplining him. I would tell your daughter that she is not allowed to play with him anymore when you are not there, period, since she is not staying away on her own. I think it's the only way to keep her safe. I hate to say it, but this boy clearly does not like her or want to play with her.

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I would keep them separated unless you or your husband are present so that you can keep an eye out on them. I would probably not go as far as to keep them separated at family functions, because that would be too polarizing for your family and cause more conflict, drama, and hurt feelings than it's worth, plus you would be there to keep an eye on them and protect her should he try to hurt her. I would tell the family why you don't want them together unless you are watching. I feel the parents need to know that the problem is serious enough to warrant attention.

I would also take SOME discipline into my own hands. Rude comment about a gift, I would brush off with nothing more than "If you don't like it I can take it back." Rude comment about me or a person I care about, on the other hand, would be dealt with sternly with or without the parents' consent. Had he told ME I have a big butt, I would probably have gotten down on his level, and VERY sternly said, "I might have a big butt, but it is NOT your job to point it out. You have an ugly attitude, but I don't point it out because those comments are rude and they serve no purpose. Before you speak, think about what you will accomplish with those words. What did you wish to accomplish by telling me I have a big butt?"
Listen to his answer if he has one--that will give you some very valuable information to share with his parents to finally get them to listen to you. He probably will say he doesn't know, so just tell him unless he has something productive to say to keep his rude little mouth shut. Then I would tell the parents, and if they say "Well he says it to his mom." I would say "Well, if you want to let him treat you like a doormat, that is fine, but I will NOT tolerate being spoken to that way, not from an adult, and certainly not from a child."

I am part of the "Let the fall, they will learn" camp, but I do teach my son his limits so that he knows what is safe to try. He's never broken a bone. Give your daughter the rules and trust her to follow them. If her cousin tries to get her to climb a rail that is clearly too high for her, she should know to say "No. That's not safe." by the time she's five. Trust her.

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