My 4 yr old has become very verbally aggressive and mean mostly to my daughter who is 2. No matter what punishment I have used nothing phases him. His mother and I have been apart for almost 2 yrs and she has moved 4 times in a year and a half. I understand anxiety may play a part in this but what can I do? I am totally exhausted.
Sit down with your child and have a talk. Talk to him about hitting. Why would someone hit you? How do you feel when someone hits you? Is hitting good or bad? What should happen if someone hits you? Then turn it to talking about him and his sister. Why would you hit your sister? How do you think she feels when you hit her? Is hitting good or bad? What should happen if you hit her?
Come up with some consequences for hitting. Do about five. Make each one more severe than the last. First could be a warning and go over the list together. Second could be a four minute time-out. So forth. Use the first one for the first offense, second for the second offense, etc.
If it's fights about toys, remove the toy and put it in a "naughty box" or "toy jail" for a couple of days. Also, be sure to praise positive behavior. "I like how nicely you are playing with her and sharing toys" Praise both kids a lot. I have heard that you should use nine positive statements for every negative one.
Good luck and God bless you, Daddy.
This same strategy can be applied to the verbal aggression.
I agree with garnetgirl9. Also get down on his level and ask him about his anger, how he feels about moving so much, etc. Let him talk about what makes him angry or sad. Most of the time, acting up is a result of a young child not knowing how to communicate to adults that they are unhappy, angry, etc. Help him verbalize his emotions. Don't get upset at anything he says. Tell him you understand how he feels and why he feels that way.
Also give him "safe" ways to let out his anger. I used an old pillow for my son. He was allowed to hit the pillow as much as he needed. You could add a pillowcase with an angry face drawn in permanent ink. Let him know that is the way to be angry, not by hitting people.
With all the changes in his life, make sure to keep his life as routine as possible when he is with you. Children need routine and limits. It makes them feel safe. Always make sure to get down on their level physically when you talk to them and really listen and validate what they say.
I have a 20 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. I feel by giving them more positive the ways to cope with anger and other emotions they have grown into very good people.
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