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Question
Posted by: Edie | 2011-11-16

Don''t shoot the messenger??

Dear Professor

I would really appreciate some guidance.

I have a two and half year old son (A) and nephew (B). My sister’ s son is a very intelligent, tall(er) and strong(er) little boy. But ever since they were babies, B was bullying A. He has always wanted his toys, pushed him over when they started walking, etc. B’ s mother, my sister, always try to explain to him that he shouldn’ t do it, but he doesn’ t listen. Now it has escalated to far worse problem. He is quite unbearable. He thows tantrums for up to 40 minutes where he just screams and screams (becomes blue in the face and is exhausted afterward) and he hit my child with a fist in his face. He pushed him over and into the swimmingpool. He spat at us when we tried to discipline him. The thing is, my sister travels away from home quite often. He either then stays at home or with my parents.

My parents think I’ m a goody two shoes (?) and they appreciate her more careless attitude. They also treat our sons exactly the way they treated us. So, my parents were babysitting him this week and came to stay with us for the weekend. I told my mother that I think he is out of control, but she immediately defended him, saying he is just like his mother. To which I replied: no wonder I resented her so much while growing up. Because whenever B throws a tantrum about a colour/shape/toy that my son has, they will actually take it away from my son and give it to B. Until this weekend when both my husband and myself said, no more! A will not be punished, because B can’ t control himself.

We also had company over, who now said that although they love children (and I know they do) they have never experienced anything like B and they actually wanted to leave because of him. They also said that I have to speak to my sister about it, because it is like watching him do drugs and not doing anything about is. But, knowing the setup of our family, I know it will not go well, for me to talk to her about it. My mother actually told her that he threw a couple of tantrums, but she obviously downplayed it severely. So, firstly, I just want to know whether you think I need to say something and what do I say?

Also, we are also supposed to go away with the family December and we just said there is no way that we’ ll go away with them until they have not done something to deal with the situation, because under no circumstances will I let my son see and experience anymore of Bs behavior. Because A actually becomes quite scared and comes and sits with me and asks whether B is allright? So, secondly, what should I say about not wanting to go away with them?

I really feel sad for him, but I’ m also not sure that it is my place to say anything. I would really like to “ help”  him, but maybe I should recommend a book or something else?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks so much

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

With such a young child, explanations may not be what is needed, unless they are accompanied by a very clear set of rules of what behavior is and is not acceptable, and clear consequences for behaving well of badly. Not to bully other kids is a rule, and breaking it doesn't need explanations or discussion, but consequences - he loses something he likes - no TV for a day, no special treats, whatever. Mere wheedling words dont help at all. Of course he didn't listen - kids are smarter than most parents think, and they know when the words are meaningless. No ice-cream means something.
he sounds like a thoroughly spoiled brat, who has been carefuly trained to expect to always get his own way.
Sounds like your parents have no idea how to discipline him, and as a result didn't teach your sister about discipline either ( some of us seem naturally, perhaps like you did, do get the idea of it ).
His tantrums are apparently always rewarded. When he starts screaming, i possible, he should be placed in his room or a bathroom, and left alone, being told that his screaming is unacceptable and he will be ignored and left alone till he has been quiet for 5 minutes .
Hitting other kids in the face, or pushing them into a swimming pool is DANGEROUS and totally unacceptable, and any adult who allows that to go unpunished is irresponsible to a very high extent.
Your mother is naive. Of course this brat is out of control and saying that his mother was just as badly behaved is no excuse. Have you asked her whether she has taken first aid classes so she can try to save your child the next time the little monster hits him or tries to drown him ?
Your parents may not be fit adults to care for any children. Taking things away from your child to reward the squawking little beast is training him to be more and more horrible. When he grows up to be a bank robber, they should be charged as accomplices !
Congratulations to you and your husband for finally putting your feet down and refusing to accept he misconduct of your parents and sister - what they are doing amounts to abuse and neglect of both children.
personally, I would refuse to go away with the family at all, and explain clearly that you won't tolerate your child being punished for the selfish and greedy behaviour of the other child, nor endangered by his aggressiveness, and that it is no sort of holiday or pleasure to be anywhere around the brat.
It will be impossible for the brat to be helped without the involvement of a child psychologist and the ACTIVE and sincere involvement of the mother and your parents, as they are the cause of the chil's bad behaviour, and until they change, consistently, he won't change.
Stand firm, for the sake of your child, and congratulations on being sensible parents. If your parents want to encourage him to grow into a thug, and to applaud your sister for doing the same, let them do it alone. Maybe you can meet them at times on an adults only basis.
Be firm and clear about how no other families or adults would tolerate how the brat behaves or how they encourage him to do so, and that you look foward tio establishing normal family relations once they have received proper professional help and changed him back into a normal child.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

1
Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011-11-16

With such a young child, explanations may not be what is needed, unless they are accompanied by a very clear set of rules of what behavior is and is not acceptable, and clear consequences for behaving well of badly. Not to bully other kids is a rule, and breaking it doesn't need explanations or discussion, but consequences - he loses something he likes - no TV for a day, no special treats, whatever. Mere wheedling words dont help at all. Of course he didn't listen - kids are smarter than most parents think, and they know when the words are meaningless. No ice-cream means something.
he sounds like a thoroughly spoiled brat, who has been carefuly trained to expect to always get his own way.
Sounds like your parents have no idea how to discipline him, and as a result didn't teach your sister about discipline either ( some of us seem naturally, perhaps like you did, do get the idea of it ).
His tantrums are apparently always rewarded. When he starts screaming, i possible, he should be placed in his room or a bathroom, and left alone, being told that his screaming is unacceptable and he will be ignored and left alone till he has been quiet for 5 minutes .
Hitting other kids in the face, or pushing them into a swimming pool is DANGEROUS and totally unacceptable, and any adult who allows that to go unpunished is irresponsible to a very high extent.
Your mother is naive. Of course this brat is out of control and saying that his mother was just as badly behaved is no excuse. Have you asked her whether she has taken first aid classes so she can try to save your child the next time the little monster hits him or tries to drown him ?
Your parents may not be fit adults to care for any children. Taking things away from your child to reward the squawking little beast is training him to be more and more horrible. When he grows up to be a bank robber, they should be charged as accomplices !
Congratulations to you and your husband for finally putting your feet down and refusing to accept he misconduct of your parents and sister - what they are doing amounts to abuse and neglect of both children.
personally, I would refuse to go away with the family at all, and explain clearly that you won't tolerate your child being punished for the selfish and greedy behaviour of the other child, nor endangered by his aggressiveness, and that it is no sort of holiday or pleasure to be anywhere around the brat.
It will be impossible for the brat to be helped without the involvement of a child psychologist and the ACTIVE and sincere involvement of the mother and your parents, as they are the cause of the chil's bad behaviour, and until they change, consistently, he won't change.
Stand firm, for the sake of your child, and congratulations on being sensible parents. If your parents want to encourage him to grow into a thug, and to applaud your sister for doing the same, let them do it alone. Maybe you can meet them at times on an adults only basis.
Be firm and clear about how no other families or adults would tolerate how the brat behaves or how they encourage him to do so, and that you look foward tio establishing normal family relations once they have received proper professional help and changed him back into a normal child.

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