Dear Dr. Meg,
My sons are 22-months apart; they are now 2 and 5 months.
Right before my 2nd son was born, my 1st son really started acting out. He hits, throws and now kicks for going on 6 months. He is not in daycare, we do not watch “violent” television, and the two days a week that I work he stays with grandparents. We have tried to be compassionate about the fact that he lost the “King of the Castle” when my 2nd son was born, but I am having trouble curbing this behavior and all of our behavior modification ideas have failed so far.
We intentionally spend time with him, especially when little brother is around and I have even tried telling little brother to “wait” while I do activities with the older brother. The acting out is not exclusive to when younger brother is around though; it has become the only way he interacts with other children too.
I have tried interacting in play and showing him appropriate contact, we discuss positive interactions on the way to play dates (high fives, hugs, sharing, etc), but as soon as a child walks into his range, he lashes out. He has even started acting out when it is only me and him spending time together.
My husband and I have tried picking a method (spanking, time out, etc) and sticking with only that method for a period of time, but so far we have found nothing that seems to deter him from these actions.
He is a sweet sweet boy half of the time, and then a huge handful the other half. I know sometimes his actions are meant to seek attention, but in other instances, I cannot figure out what is fueling them, and in all instances, I am at a loss on how to stop them and encourage positive behavior. Thank you for any advice!
Mother of Two