Friday, January 28, 2011

Mean Streak

Little Bear has been developing a bit of a mean streak this week. I mean, don't get me wrong - he's still a sweet, smiley kid. But, he's taking the pestering his big brother thing to an entirely different level: besides just pushing and trying to take toys away from The Boy, he's also starting to hit and such.

It's not uncommon behavior for a child who's 18-19 months old. I understand that. I also get that little brothers (having been one all of my life) are G-d's way of keeping big brothers from being too full of themselves. I just feel bad for the boys because of the near constant fighting.

Perfect example: yesterday, at a friend's house, The Boy was sitting with a Woody doll and Buzz action figure in a little kid-couch. He had been sitting there for fifteen minutes, just quietly playing and watching whatever was on tv (Yo Gabba Gabba, I'm told). Little Bear came over, sat down next to him, whacked him on his head to make him cry, then took the Buzz doll. The Boy stood up for himself and got it back, but still.

The Boy doesn't respond much, because he understands the concept of "not nice." He gets quite upset and looks to us to help mediate, although he frequently will try to offer Little Bear another toy with which to play. The Boy is a more passive presence at home, usually choosing to just do his thing and try to ignore or to distance himself from his little brother.

So, what do we do? I'm not a violent person and don't advocate violence outside of sci-fi movies and comics, but I don't want The Boy to sit back and let his brother walk all over him. Right now, we're trying to redirect the negative behavior and provide positive alternatives - different toys, different places to be, patting nicely instead of hitting. Punishment ( besides the immediate cessation of games and attention when extreme behaviors show up) is not an option right now, because he's too young to get it. You can't whack him or time out him, because he doesn't understand cause and effect well enough.

Any suggestions?

Tonight, I was sitting in my chair while he was trying to unzip the cushions. I put my arm on the cushion to anchor it in place to prevent unzipping, and Little Bear got quite angry with me. He actually wound up and hit my arm! I said, "Excuse me?" and he did it again. "Do NOT hit me," I said in a calm, firm, teacher tone, along with a years-practiced and effective death look. He backed off (wisely), because that might have been the first time I've shot him that particular look - students of mine know it well, the look that usually ends whatever bad behavior that's occurring. That's not a permanent solution.", however.

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