Need help for sanity's sake

Kristin - posted on 06/22/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )

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I have two children, ages 4 and 1. They are both sweet kids and I love them to death. However, ever since my second child was born, my first child has had some major attitude/behavior issues. I'm pretty sure it's because he's jealous and doesn't like the fact that he's not the only child anymore. And I can totally understand that. However, it's gotten pretty bad lately, and I'm getting really frustrated. He's constantly pushing her, hitting her, taking toys away from her, and screaming at me and my husband when something doesn't go the way he thinks it should. It's gotten so bad that I'm constantly waking up in the morning dreading the fact that I have to be at home all day with them, and my patience levels are very low. Any advice on how to change things and make things better for me and my kids?

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If your little man like to be busy or in charge, he may simply not like having to not be in charge around his little sister. My daughter likes "chores" and "things to do", so we try to give her things and jobs to do that are hers, exclusively. Not mine, not my hubby's, not her brother's, just hers. I found when she didn't have her "space" and things to be in charge of, she tended to try and take it out on her brother.



Here's an idea of what I'm talking about:



1) My daughter has a toy box (and son does too), and the things in it are hers, and though we encourage and even enforce sharing, they both must ask permission before using the other's stuff. *note: we also have toys that are for both, like dress-up, books, etc.



2) DD has a box where she puts the things she doesn't want Bubba "bothering" (aka, slobbering on) or that I don't want him choking on, it's pretty much all jewelry-type things...but your son could put Matchbox cars or something similar in a box like this.



3) (And this is the best, most recent thing we've done) Is give our DD jobs! Like, real jobs! She is currently in charge of keeping food out for the birds, putting liners in the trashes after they're emptied, and taking care of a potted outdoor plant--she planted the seeds, and she's in charge of watering it, when it starts bearing fruit, she will be in charge of picking it and putting it in the fridge. Her brother (18 months) is in charge of helping me wherever he wants, other than his sister's jobs, and I usually make him finish the job with me once he starts--he thinks it's so cool and follows me saying "Mommy...helper" the whole time.



Our DD loves all of this, we sometimes have to make her do it, but more often than not she is asking if it's "time for a job yet". I think kids like to be productive, in the same way they see adults being productive. So, now you have my (very long) two-cents-worth. ;)

Staci - posted on 06/23/2010

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My kids are 22 months apart so I don't have the age gap, but I definitely can see the jealousy bug biting my 2 year old. I grew up with a sister who was 3 years older than me and to this day she is still jealous of me. She had 100% of the attention as the only child and only grandchild before I came along and rocked her little world. Her big gripes when we were growing up were that she was always forced to have me tag along with her when she went outside to play, she didn't get alone time with mom & dad anymore, and she was punished in a different manner than I was. She had a hard time understanding that kids are different and need different things...

Especially with 2 kids, it's hard to see that dynamic because if one isn't getting attention, the other one is and the perception is that the other one is the favorite. I think it's easier to see the division of mommy's time and attention when there are more than 2 kids. Best advice I can give is to encourage him to be an individual. Don't force interaction between them. Try to not scold the older one and tell him that he should know better - it's hard for the oldest to always have to do the right thing - it often leads to rebellion. That's just what I've realized with my own personal experience with me and my sister...I am trying everything I can to make sure to spend one on one time with my oldest and make her feel special every single day. It's tough to do, but I notice that on the days I don't make an effort, her behavior is worse. If I do make a point to really give her undivided attention every day, her behavior is much better.

I also should note that my niece is 4...and she is a total boss! She has to tell everyone what to do, when to do it, and how it should be done. Some of that is just an age thing. I think she will mellow out in preschool when kids start to tell her that she's mean and they don't want to play with her...she has had that experience at the playground several times and it really hits home when peers tell them that - she gets really upset and tries to mellow out (for a few days at least). Maybe preschool/interaction with same aged kids will help your son as well....

Nikkole - posted on 06/23/2010

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maybe when your baby is taking a nap you and ur son can do some thing just the 2 of you. maybe then he will be less jealous

Vanessa - posted on 06/23/2010

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Hi i have a 4 year old and a 6 month old plus 4 other older children and i know that around 4 years of age boys tend to go through a testosterone boost which makes them more aggressive and more needy for attention as jessica said getting him to help with the baby is a good idea maybe have a special job for him like getting nappies also possibly when you are feeding bub have a few special things for him to do. also try giving him a household chore to do every day, like setting the table, this will make him feel like he is an important part of the family. If you can ignore alot of the little things that are not bad that he does do so and i find time out for everything else great. Taking things away from him that he likes is also good and giving them back when he does something good. Also reward charts for every little thing he does good and then a prize at the end of the week for so many stickers or ticks. He will grow out of it eventually. Try to stay strong and keep consistant with him. Goodluck :)

Jessica - posted on 06/22/2010

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ive always heard that the best way to keep the older child from being overly jealous is to have them help with the baby. maybe have him bring you diapers and wipes and help give her a bath and stuff that he can do, and not be in the way too much while doing it. or have him help you teach her how to patty-cake. just fun things that he could show her how to do to keep him involved and help him not feel left out???

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