Perhaps the biggest news in the past month has been a change in my job title. I am no longer a Stay-At-Home Mom. Nope. I am now officially a full-time bodyguard for my 10-month old. The need to constantly protect him from his two-year old brother is a necessity these days, sadly.
Don’t get me wrong, AJ LOVES his little brother. He adores him to no end. He loves kissing him, holding his hand, and being sweet with him. However, sometimes he executes these gestures a little too forcefully. He will squeeze him too tightly while giving a hug or pull on his arm too much when trying to lead him to the playroom. (He would most likely drag him by a limb to the playroom if it weren’t for Mommy.) Moreover, AJ is a fireball of energy and can be a bit of a brute. He is constantly bouncing around the house and if something or someone is in his way, he has little regard. Thus, on numerous occasions throughout the day, I have to dive in front of speeding scooters, deflect toys thrown in Anders’ direction, and race to Anders’ aide when his big brother is trying to pick him up to move him to a spot as a ‘target’ to throw balls. And there’s always the tantrums after Anders takes a toy from AJ, or vice versa. Who knew that a little hand taking a three-inch Thomas the Train toy by his brothers’ side can result with end-of the-world level screams? Ultimately, you can NEVER turn your back when they’re together. (Hence the need for the job change!)
I know I’m not alone when I say that my toddler isn’t known for his “gentle” touch. And why should I expect him to be? He is a toddler. Toddlers aren’t developmentally programmed yet to treat things -like a baby sibling or a glass vase- with the tender care necessary. All I can do is try my best to help AJ learn a more gentle approach with his brother through continuous attempts of sticking to methods that show progress and abandoning ones that don’t. Every toddler learns and reacts differently, and I’m sure every toddler has different reasons for being rough. As for my son, here are some areas that I’ve found success in warding off aggressive behavior and seeing subtle progress with the word “gentle:”
- Getting down on the floor several times during the day and playing with both of them is always key. I can help gear the play in a way that won’t lead to conflict and prevent them from taking each other’s toys and consequently, aggressive behavior.
- I have them play separately when AJ isn’t playing kindly, and tell him to take a time-out and rejoin when he’s ready to play nicely. When he does play nicely with Anders, I am sure to always praise him.
- We make sure to have individual time with each. I will take Anders out for a walk or to the front yard for some play time while Alfonso will take AJ to the living room and have a dance party together or go outside for some golf or baseball play time. We will then switch and do different activities with each. They both seem to thrive with individualized attention.
- Starting up a creative “be gentle” game. I’ve come up with many variations, but the one that has seemed to work the best is simply lining up a bunch of objects and stuffed animals. I then challenge AJ to go down the line and if he can be gentle with each one, we do a choreographed celebration dance. Each time we do the dance, we add one movement (i.e. a turn, a wink, a wave, a clap, etc.).
- I just purchased Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort, which was recommended by a few friends. I’m hoping to gain some more tips and guidance once I start reading it this week.
I would love to hear of more ideas or suggestions that have worked for others who have dealt with the same or similar issue. I’m all ears!!