Two Under 2

Older child acting out?

Hi ladies - I'm new to this particular board, but not to the Bump.  I've recently joined the 2u2 club.  My second was just born 11 days ago, and my first is just now 15 months.  

I'm hoping some of you can share your experiences with me.  DS1 has always been a really mellow kid...very calm, gentle, and sweet.  Since DS2's arrival, however, he has been acting out a lot.  He's been very aggressive - pulling our hair, pushing kids at daycare, and banging his head HARD against hard surfaces to get our attention.  It's breaking my heart to see him acting like this because it's so NOT him.  We are doing everything in our power to give him a ton of our attention, so it's not like he's being ignored or neglected.

What's confusing to me is that there are also plenty of times where DS1 shows DS2 plenty of affection.  He clearly thinks his little brother is great judging by those actions.  

Did anyone else have an older child that reacted in this way?  If so, how did you handle it?  At 15 months old, it's very difficult to communicate and try to teach him how to act with other people. If you dealt with this, was it a phase that eventually ended?  If so, how long did it last?

Any personal experiences you can share would be incredibly helpful and much appreciated!

Thanks! 

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Re: Older child acting out?

  • No advice but I can relate. My DD is 17 months and DS is 18 days old. She is very rough with the baby. I can't lay him on the floor because she will kick/hit him. She steals his paci etc. I am hoping with time she will adjust and go back to her sweet self. Hugs mama and hang in there.


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  • lana22lana22
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    my son was 16 months when LO (now 2.5 months) was born. he started being a big more aggressive (dumping toys out, swatting at my legs occasionally) but that mostly subsided. we did a few time outs when he wouldn't listen (mostly about going behind the swing, and wow did they ever work, he won't even take a step past it now). he LOVES his little brother, lights up when he sees him, always runs over to say hi and give him kisses, and doesn't seem to process that he's the reason that mommy doesn't give him as much attention, though he makes it clear to me that he is not happy when i am picking up the baby and not him.

    i think giving him lots of attention and extra snuggles when the baby is sleeping, and making sure that bad behavior isn't accepted (hitting, not listening to you, etc.) will go a long way. i've also left the baby with my husband a few times to just do activities with him, and my husband will also take him out sometimes without the baby. 

    i read that kids will do a lot for negative attention, and i noticed myself letting him play and not paying much attention until he was doing something i disapproved of (playing with the blinds, hitting his toys against the window, etc.) so i started making a very concerted effort to be more present with him even when he was playing on his own, and show him attention when he was doing good things. i think it worked, but hard to know what was a result of baby's arrival/me and his age. 


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  • DS1 is the same way. He was 19 months when DS2 was born. He would act out to get attention, especially when I was feeding DS2. He's really getting a lot better as time goes by and he's affectionate more often than he is aggressive now. When I know I need to feed DS2, I try to set up DS1 with an activity that will keep him occupied for a while. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Good luck, and it will get better with time.
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  • LC122LC122
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    My second isn't here yet, but my first is around that age. So, some things that may help:
    1. There is a book called Positive Discipline. Actually, there are several of them but one is for zero to 3. It has some good tips on handling unwanted behaviors. Like, instead of just scolding bad behavior, replace it with a good one. For example, when your LO pulls hair, hits, or pinches, say no to that action but then demonstrate "gentle" by touching their flat hand against you.
    2. Language. I think this is a super frustrating age for the kids because they know what they want and not how to get it. We have done sign language which has helped with words that are more difficult to say or distinguish and with frequently used words or actions. We also really honed in on "No" and "Yes" as empowering our daughter to answer yes or no questions. We really encourage her to "use your words" and she will often calm down enough to say what she wants or answer yes or know to our questions for how to help her.
    I think as this age gets increasingly independent, it's important to harness those skills for good behavior. You can also really help them to help you by giving them opportunities to try new things. Also, don't be afraid of letting them make messes or letting them help you clean up the messess. And by messes, I mean accidents that happen when they are practicing a new skill. Like helping by feeding the dog may result in kibble on the floor, but that is something easy for them to clean up too.
    Good luck to us all!
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