Tuesday, 22 April 2008

All advice welcomed!

So, while Jamie was sick a couple of weekends ago he mentioned the following, out of the blue:

J: I like to hurt babies

K: why?

J: because they are so soft

K: um.. why does that mean you like to hurt them?

J: I like the bumping noise they make (as they fall down and hit the floor)


Obviously the conversation went on with a little chat from me about babies being people, and how they feel hurt, and kindness... you get the idea.

In actual fact he doesn't like to hurt babies. Really he quite likes softly patting the heads of the small offspring of friends and is always gentle in this. He does occasionally seem to have a strange compulsion to push Noah over backwards, when often indeed there is a 'bumping noise'. He always says sorry and seems genuinely to be so, but it does tend to happen again.

See, I detest aggression and worry about it, particularly in boys. I have started to write several posts about it but can never seem to finish, worried that I am portraying Jamie as some psychopathic little bruiser.

I think I know this is just a 3-year-old phase, him testing words, impacts, feelings and boundaries. I also know having Noah has been hard on him, but that things are getting better.

So I'm not worried. Except that I am a little.

I am suffering from the curse of the professional versus personal - I am over read for parenting. Its my job and I am mostly successful in putting all in sensible perspective, but occasionally I make myself crazy. Research shows us that developing empathy is key in personal, emotional and social development, and especially in counteracting bullying and aggression toward others.

So, I'd value your input on this one...what do you think, what do you do?

thanks :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

I'm no expert but I think with kids actions speak louder than words. Like you said, they test out words, see what they really mean, what kind of reaction the words bring. From what I've seen of Jamie, albeit 4 months ago now, he is a gentle soul and isn't one to inflict pain for the heck of it. While I'm positive I too would be over-analyzing that conversation, I would suggest you don't. He really hasn't done anything that suggests he is mean or takes pride in hurting Noah. He is just a 3 year old testing boundaries, testing reactions and seeing what happens when he pushes his baby brother over. He seems like a pretty social and outgoing little guy so don't let it bug you any more than you can help. Just my two-cents worth. :)

Louise said...

I think you handled it well, talking to him about it and explaining the meaning of what he said. This will go in to his astoundingly absorbent brain and be remembered.

He is the child of loving, gentle parents and he will learn a lot about how to behave by emulating you.

If you continue to show him how to be gentle with babies, and stop him if you see him going to push Noah over, giving him more positive reinforcement like "you're good at being gentle" he will get the message that he gets lots of nice attention if he is gentle.

You can always do the "scoop and dump" if he does push Noah over - you pick Jamie up and plop him down well away from you and Noah, and then give Noah a cuddle to check he's OK. This means you're not having to "tell Jamie off" or put him in "time out", but he knows that he's doing something inappropriate.

It sounds like he knows he shouldn't do the aggressive behaviour, but as he is still so young, he won't be able to control his impulses.

I think you're doing a great job! Boys are a LOT of work!!

daydreamymama said...

Here's what's so great about Jamie, and also about you: he's telling you that he sometimes feels aggressive feelings that he's not acting on. And he can do that because he knows it's safe to talk to you. Everybody feels those feelings, and a three-year-old with a baby brother is more entitled to those feelings than anyone. But if he knows it's safe to talk with you about them (put them into words), he's less likely to express them in actions. It sounds to me like you're a fabulous mom, and he's a fabulous kid.