This week, a concerned mother to a 10-year-old boy and 06-year-old twins, a boy and girl, wanted help from the parents on our SOS Forum. She told us, ‘Of late, my younger son is behaving extremely violently towards my daughter, even though he is often protective about her. He keeps hitting her and it has increased to an extent that he hits other girls in the school as well. I have tried everything, from scolding to explaining, punishing, threatening and pleading, but nothing seems to work. Please help. I really want to understand how I can control and remove this sudden aggression in my son and help him.”
Here’s what mums had to suggest to this young mother:
1. Find out what’s making him do this! Or what triggered this. It could be anything from watching some TV show, or friends talking about their siblings or jealousy.. Anything. Just be friends with him, get on to understand him and then try n talk. If its doesn’t help, you need to take him to a child counsellor.
2. There must be a reason for this behavior. Visit a child psychologist if his behavior changed all of a sudden. He might feel frustrated for some reason… maybe at home or at school. Take professional advice.
3. Since she is the only girl in the house, she might be receiving more attention than the other two boys. He is seeing her as competition. And also unwittingly the parents might be making him feel responsible towards the sister. He is probably feeling resentful because he feels “burdened” by the responsibility. He likes the attention he gets, even if it’s negative attention by way of you shouting, punishing, threatening etc., when he beats her or other girls in school. Involve him in discussions and decisions like – what to make for lunch or dinner? Make up small problems and ask him for his advice. Make him feel important. Change the kind of attention you give him. Surprise him with small gifts/treats when he behaves properly. Hug him and tell him he’s a wonderful brother when he acts protective towards his sister. His attitude will change. Find out in casual conversations about the friends he has and if they too have younger siblings. He might be learning from friends bragging about bullying their siblings.
4. Could be jealousy. Since this is the younger son, it means one half of the twin is harming the other. Usually twins are meant to be close. Maybe he’s become jealous that his sister’s making more friends and he feels excluded, so he’s jealous and frustrated and venting that anger. Maybe she’s getting more attention from parents and teachers etc. It’s definitely worth sitting him down on his own and gently asking him what’s bothering him, then tell him you love him very very much as does his sister. Of course, there could be more to this than meets the eye. If chatting to him doesn’t work, then definitely worth talking to a child psychologist for suggestions.
5. He needs more love.
6. Talk and find out facts which have caused this and then work it out..involve your husband.
We did speak to the mum again to understand what was happening with her younger son, the one who is showing this sudden aggression and the one who is one-half of the twins, and there seems to have been a positive change all of a sudden. On a recent aggressive day, when he hit his sister without any reason, the mother did end up giving him a piece of her mind, and she told him that even though she loved him so so much, he seemed to not love back his mother, and that is why he did such things to make her feel sad. She had another personal talk with him where she told him that she loved him as much as she loved the other two kids, she told him that his sister loved him too much as well (which he knows and acknowledged) and she told him that she was so sad and hurt by his actions that she did not want to talk to him right now or shout. She said she would speak to him when he promised he would be mamma’s darling little boy again and not do such things. She also told him that he was very important for her, and for everyone in the family, and that it hurt all of them and made them feel sad that their darling boy was behaving like this. After that she did not speak to him that day, not showing anger, but instead, showing that she was really sad. He didn’t hit his sister again that day, and the next day he hugged his mother and apologised. He has not hit her sister for quite a few days now and that’s a great achievement! The mother is still amazed that though she did have these kinds of personal-talk moments with him earlier, it’s only now that he responded so positively…..
Special mention for mums who helped with their suggestions:
Namrata Samel Dixit, Laura Visirin Jain, Sharon Khare D’Souza, Somita Suri, Hardeep Shehbaaz, Anika Talwar