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2 Bumps

Is my son's Jekyll and Hyde behavior towards his baby brother normal??

My son will be turning 3 at the end of April. He is like Jekyll and Hyde. One minute he is hugging and kissing our 6 month old and the next minute starts smacking the baby in the face over and over and laughing about it! He shows NO remorse for his actions even after being put in timeout or having a toy taken away. I carry the baby on my hip ALL DAY LONG (yeah, my back hurts...) to protect him from his big brother.

I know toddlers/preschoolers often express their frustration through violence due to a lack of communication skills. The difference here is that he isn't upset when he lashes out. He thinks it is funny!

Does anyone have similar experiences to this?
Am I raising a sociopath!?

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Asked by bootsky at 7:57 PM on Mar. 7, 2012 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 13 (1,290 Credits)
Answers (6)
  • My 17 month old does the same thing. She will cry and beg to hold him and I will put him in her lap and she will pat his back and head for about 2 minutes then push him away. Then 10 minutes later she wants him again. I think it must be normal.

    Answer by AF4life at 8:03 PM on Mar. 7, 2012

  • its normal my son did it from time to time and truly we dont spank or yell, we did time out, we did talkings, we did separation, no movies, everything we could think of and then their doc told me do to him what he is doing to the baby (not hard of course... just as a shocker) and ask if he understands the he wouldnt want it done to him right? then dont do it to baby... it sounds mean and i wouldnt do it at first but then i got to the point i tried it and it was the only thing that worked he no longer does ant of it anymore and is so loving and protective if "his baby". hope that helps!!!

    Answer by mommy2bee12-27 at 2:04 AM on Mar. 8, 2012

  • Re: mommy2bee's comment. It kind of blows my mind that a child's doctor would advise or suggest that (do to him what he does), since they are mandatory reporters.
    Perhaps her son was not slapping her baby's face?

    OP, I wanted to say I don't think you are raising a sociopath! I don't think anything is wrong (just plain wrong) with your child & I also don't believe that's how "it" happens, anyway.
    I know how it feels to doubt about that, to be really disturbed by & confused about where a child's behaviors are coming from, (particularly when we expect "bad" or aggressive behavior to be coming from frustration/anger & the older child doesn't seem distressed), but I really think your little boy is OK & you guys will get through this difficult transition.
    The slaps also can be about curiosity/reaction or ambivalent feelings.
    What is his expressive ability? Does he ever express positive or negative feelings about the baby verbally?

    Answer by girlwithC at 8:59 AM on Mar. 8, 2012

  • One good rule of thumb for developing or increasing empathy in a child is to respond to him with empathy.
    Respond to the problematic behavior in a way that demonstrates understanding for why it's happening & acceptance of the feelings. (Even if you don't KNOW enough to fully "understand" or explain it, you can believe it is happening for a good/valid reason.) Of course you stop (or ideally, prevent) the behavior, but the RESPONSE is one of understanding & acceptance. The connection that results from this (vs. punishment) makes him physiologically receptive to learning...and this is where you provide guidance.
    If it's not something that happens when he's frustrated or upset with something the baby does (this is more likely once his little brother is mobile & getting "involved" or interfering in his play, anyway) it can be harder to guess what guidance (acceptable alternatives) might be needed. But you could guess at feelings &

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:12 AM on Mar. 8, 2012

  • model verbal expression of them by doing that, yourself.
    You could make guesses & then verbalize them warmly in an open-ended way. "It must be...." or "I sometimes feel..." or "Sometimes I wish...." or "I can imagine you might wish sometimes that..."
    If your boy has a (normal) mix of sad as well as loving feelings in response to his baby brother's presence in your lives, he likely is dealing with the internal realities of grief, confusion, fear, loss, resentment, anger, jealousy & the pain of "rejection." These are hard things to metabolize (& the more outward-directed feelings develop in REACTION to the more vulnerable & overwhelming ones, as a defense against becoming completely overwhelmed emotionally & mentally. Grief, loss, abandonment & sadness are literally "too much" for a young child; hence the jealousy, meanness, anger, and resentment--to protect him from FEELING how sad he is!)
    Does considering things this way help?

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:27 AM on Mar. 8, 2012

  • my son who just turned 5 was the same way with my baby who's now 1. he loved the baby one minute and wanmted to hurt him the next i also use to keep the baby with me even put him in the bassinet in the bathroom when i took a shower now that it's been a year it's a little better i think it's alot of jelousy because there not the center of your attention anymore. I just try to get him to help and be involved so he doesn't feel left out. he loves playing with him now that he can get around but he stil gets jelous it's a working progress

    Answer by wells2811 at 1:33 PM on Mar. 13, 2012

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