326352 tn?1310994295


My brother and his not quite 2 year old son moved in with my mom in May (and by association with my family which includes 2 girls age 6 and 5).  My brother is currently getting a divorce, seeking full custody and no visitation which without going into too much detail is entirely appropriate.  The bio-mom (egg donor, soon to be ex-wife) has apparently taught this child that biting, pinching, hitting is funny.  I kid you not.  We know this because she wrote a letter to him saying how much she missed him and his biting, pinching and hitting her.  Serious.  And we are also pretty sure this is what has transpired because whenever he does such actions he laughs.

The son seems to pick on my youngest daughter who is 5.  He actually does some of these things to my eldest daughter but she ignores it mostly.  But he can get quite .... physical... with my 5 year old.  He has left a few bruises on her and drawn blood more than once.  We have determined through watching the interaction a few things to note:

--she sometimes brings these things on by how she interacts with him... she is very physical in her play and can sometimes get rough without realizing.  she also picks at him to get his attention, over loves on him sometimes, etc.  We're working with her to back off on what she does and how she interacts with him.

--he does these things to get her attention or to get back at her depending on the moment in time.

--he really does think this is funny and appropriate behavior.

--he does NOT respond to time-out, scolding, and yes we have actually spanked him for the worst offenses.  We are trying to encourage him to replace this behavior with "love on X person... give hugs not pinches"...  this sorta kinda really doesn't work either but at least gets a hug after the pinch.

--he did not seem to do these things with the other kids his age during VBS week when he was in the nursery, nor does he do this at church on Sundays.  But this is a very short time frame for observation in a new atmosphere.  He will be going to a Mom's Day Out program this fall.

--there is definite jealousy involved with his actions and with her.

--he was a low-birth weight baby although he was not premature.  He is still underweight.  We also think he has some indication of fetal alcohol syndrome.  He does not have a large vocabulary and he gets frustrated and mad easily.  He is a head banger.

My mother, who keeps all 3 kids during the day (at least until school starts), is getting weary of this since we really haven't been able to make much headway to get him to stop this.  

We need some suggestions on what else we can try to dissuade him from pinching and hiting her.  We have stopped MOST of the biting that he does with the exception of the occassional bite on his dad. We have stopped most of the kicking, too except when he's really tired and doesn't want to do whatever it is you need him to do (diaper change, bedtime).  He doesn't hit quite as much, he still throws toys sometimes but again, not quite as much.  But we really haven't made any headway in getting him to quit pinching.  I think it's because we can't really catch him before he does it (like when he gets ready to throw a toy or bite) or during the act of it since he usually just pinches once and sometimes in passing.

Suggestions on how to stop the pinching????????
9 Responses
13167 tn?1327194124
What is coming across pretty loud and clear - that you describe - is that your daughter is bullying him and taunting him.  And you want him to stop defending himself against her dominant behavior.  

If she were stopped from bullying him,  he would probably stop defending himself and hurting her in retaliation.  

If I've misunderstood this,  sorry.   Read back through your post and see where she is the MUCH older child and he is the baby and he doesn't seem to react this way to any other children except your 5 year old who picks on him.  
377493 tn?1356502149
I think this whole situation is going to take time and patience.  All of the children in the home are now learning to live together.  Not easy given how young they all are.  Plus, bad mom or not, this little boy's world has been rocked.  He has left his mom (not saying it's not a good thing, but it still has to be a bit traumatizing), his home and his whole young world to move, and now there are other kids in the house to boot.  I have no doubt he is trying to get extra attention, would be surprised if he wasn't.  

I think that first off the older kids have to not taunt or tease him.  He is little and can't understand what is happening.  For him, I would keep up with the time outs. My little guy is 17 months and has started pinching, hitting and even head butting.  We have started time outs and it requires a lot of repetition and consistancy.  I don't expect it to change quickly, and I'm sure it's the same in your house.  Keep at it.  I personally don't think hitting a child is the way to teach them not to hit, but that's just my opinion.

If he does in fact have fetal alcohol spectrum, intervention is needed now.  That is a very serious issue and the younger they are diagnosed and gotten into the appropriate treatment the better.  I work a fair amount with the adult product of FAS and I can tell you it's not pretty.   I don't think low birthweight has anything to do with it. My son was low birthweight (and not preemie) and is completely typical.

Some of what is going on sounds to me like very normal behaviour that  needs to be worked on.  Toddler stuff.  And it's natural your 5 year old would bully him a bit given that she is 5.  Both need to be taught to live together and treat each other lovingly.  But I don't think it's going to happen quickly.  I feel bad for the poor little guy.  So much turmoil in his young life.  Keep at it, he'll learn.  Good luck.
326352 tn?1310994295
No my daughter is neither a bully nor is she taunting him.  That is not what is happening at all.  I guess I did not quite describe the situation or represent it well in words.

It is his learned behavior or a behavior that he has never been taught that is bad and that he thinks is funny that we are trying to undo.  
326352 tn?1310994295
Since this post, he has (and these are just the worse offences)

-- bitten my eldest child when the youngest was away for the day .. left a nice scar.
-- bitten my youngest child so hard on her backside that left an almost quarter size bruise that's been there for almost a week now.
-- and today chucked a wooden end post from our bed at my youngest hitting her in the cheek.

He continues to pinch or sometimes hit her just whenever he feels like it...  still does not appear to do this to other kids in his sunday nursery, thank God.

I'm done.  I cannot protect them from him.  I cannot seem to correct his behavior, neither can my mom.  He has an angel's smile but is the devil to my girls.  All I can do is hope that his dad's divorce becomes final quickly so that he can marry this new woman in his life and move out of our house.  This day cannot come quickly enough for me.  My daughters love him to death and it is going to be a serious hurt on them when he leaves, but I cannot continue to live in this manner helpless to correct it or protect them from it.

Yes, my daughter is the bully and fully deserves this behavior.  If anyone has any practical advice that might actually work, I would appreciate it.
Avatar universal
You said it right Lisa...it is always the same person who comes to the wrong conclusions all the time.  I will be honest and say that u covered all the bases.  I admit I don't have the answer.  
377493 tn?1356502149
I don't think I said your daughter was a bully, I think I did put some of the responsibility on her due to this paragraph:

she sometimes brings these things on by how she interacts with him... she is very physical in her play and can sometimes get rough without realizing.  she also picks at him to get his attention, over loves on him sometimes, etc.  We're working with her to back off on what she does and how she interacts with him.

I did the best I could based on what you said and my own experience which is admittedly limited.  Sorry it wasn't helpful, but at least I gave it a shot.  I do think time outs work and if he has learned this behaviour it's going to take quite some time to unlearn it, don't you think?  And you mentioned fas...you think that intervention isn't helpful?  I say if he has fas, it's necessary.  That is brain damage.

And suzi, to say the it's the same person who comes to the wrong conclusion all the time?  Kinda rude, don't you think?

Anyway, I promise I shall refrain from responding to either of your posts in the future.  Good luck.

13167 tn?1327194124
lhughes - I'm sorry that you're having to go through all this.

All anyone here has to go by,  is what is written,  and our own experience with life and children.  I read very carefully and picture what is going on,  and visualize things that are said before I respond.  I only am going off of what you are saying,  and I'm paying careful attention.  

So.  Back to helpful advice.

Although you say "you're done" and you can't protect your girls,  that's not practical.  All of you are living there together in your mother's home,  and so you have to continue to be vigilant.

What is happening before these incidents occur?  Thinking back,  is there no real pattern?  Is he bored and out of the blue,  with no prior interaction bites,  pinches or throws bed posts to create drama?  Or is there already drama going on and then this happens?

Children usually bite for two reasons - they enjoy hurting other people,  and are very likely to bite smaller children,  or adults,  or small pets.  I'm not sensing that here.

The second category of kids who bite are kids who are the smallest in the class - or the family - and they have no other way to "get back on top" of a situation.  They may be a dominant child and bite when put in a submissive emotional position they can't get out of without physical force.   This is what I'm sensing with him.

The other category of kids who bite are kids who are physically dominated and aren't strong enough to hit or push so they resort to biting when they are physically challenged.  I'm not sensing this is him.

So.  In order to predict and fend this off,  you need to decide - is there a predictable pattern here?  If you think back on the 6 or so worst offenses,  did they begin similarly?
326352 tn?1310994295
So of the 11 or so paragraphs of the original post basically 1 stood out... and not the one that says he thinks this is funny.  He thinks it's funny to pinch, hit, bite and throw.  He has never been taught that these are bad actions, quite the contrary because he laughs when he bites or pinches so we think that was a "game" played with him by an adult.  Most of the worst offences are done without provocation and usually as a child passes by him (as happened with the 2 biting incidences and the chucking of the furniture).  If you are an adult holding him on your hip he is liable just to haul off and bite or pinch.  My husband refers to him as "feral".

I only mentioned that some of the issue is with my youngest because she herself is having to learn how to be around a younger child and you can't play with a 2 year old in the same manner as you can with friends your own age.

Enforcing time-outs has not worked with this child.  We are frustrated beyond our measures with what we are doing and to continue what we are doing and expecting a different behavior is termed insanity.

He has his 2 yr well baby checkup with a real-honest-to-God pediatrician (as opposed to the idiot he has been seeing) in mid August.  There are not any real services where we live for any kind of special care; DHR is a joke around here as is most of the social services for our county.  

Yes it is practical to say I'm done.  If we can't tame the behaviors then until the time the dad remarries I will limit the amount of time they are near one another as best I can.  School starts in 4 weeks and once that starts up the problem from the perspective of the girls being hurt is resolved since he will not be around them but a few hours in the day which will either be in a car going to/from some activity or getting ready for bed.
13167 tn?1327194124
Yes,  one paragraph stood out.  One phrase stood out particularly "she doesn't realize she's being too rough".  So yes,  those things stood out in your initial post.

Without seeing this, it's hard to know exactly what to say.  I have seen a child like this,  who would hit much older kids with a heavy sharp toy out of the blue,  squirt pool water out of the blue in older kid's (and women's) faces,  etc.  Like your nephew,  he was a really angelic looking boy.  Different from your situation,  when this boy did this,  nothing was ever done.  The mother would say "Brian,  don't do that.  That hurts so and so".  Or she'd ignore it.  The father would either ignore it or call him all boy.

Is that how this boy has been raised?  Has everyone pretty much ignored this,  or apologized it away with "oh sorry he didn't mean to hurt you",  etc.?  I will say that he was doing much better after his uncle,  a behavioral psychologist,  got hold of him.  I don't know how he's doing now,  they moved away.  

The trick with Brian was to very matter of factly end the situation,  deal with the injured child,  and ignore Brian completely.  No attention.  No enforced time outs,  because that's attention too.  If he's on your lap and bites,  say in kind of a disgusted but passionless voice "don't bite" and put him down and IGNORE him for 10 minutes.  This might be hard because it might escalate.

A good book to think about is "Siblings without Rivalry".  There's a chapter where they deal with giving attention to the "victim" child and all others in the room while ignoring the hitting child.  

The trick here is to do it without rage,  because that's probably what he's thinking is funny.

The pediatrician may be able to recommend other books or strategies.
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