So my husband and I are doing your class, Helping Your Child with Aggression, and we're identifying triggers that cause our son to hit his sister.
And it seems like everything is a trigger!
If anything is bothering him it's a trigger: Tired. Hungry. Sad. Too much energy. Not enough attention. Needs to poop. Wants a treat. Daddy left for work.
Is this normal or do we have an especially hard case here?
It’s normal! And it is hard. For sure. We speak to so many parents who are experiencing high levels of sibling rivalry, this can be worse during times of stress generally. You are not alone.
What's happening is your older child has wrapped a whole lot of feelings around his sister. She's become like a ‘lightning rod’ for all his painful feelings, and he's lashing out. Some of these feelings may be unrelated to his sibling.
Big upsets have been stored on top each other and each ‘item' needs to be unpacked. You can do this with warm limit setting, Staylistening, Playlistening and even ‘emergency’ Special Time after your son is hard on his sister.
I know that sounds counter-intuitive. Like, ‘Wait aren’t we rewarding bad behaviour’?
But no. You are responding to your child knowing that his impulsive, off-track behaviour comes from a disconnected pre-frontal cortex. Connection is key to repair here and you will start to see a difference in your son with time. The more you can stop him hitting and other aggression he shows towards his sister, the more your son can release a bunch of hard feelings, which will help him in all areas of his life. This is where what you are learning about setting kind, warm, firm limits will help. So it's well worth paying attention here, not only for his sister's sake!
It's not easy, but you will see a difference emerge. Make it a point to “catch” moments when you will see him relax in his behaviour and response to his sister. These are your small glimmers of hope. With time, as you keep practicing the five tools we teach, you’ll start to see a new relationship develop between them.
You are so smart and courageous to be tackling this and working on this, and everything you learn in the self-guided class will help. It takes attention and perspective and you are bringing that. I have much respect for your journey.
Thanks for being part of a healing parent community here. It's brave work, and good work, and you are doing it. Step by step, keep going, we've got your back and we see what a difference this makes overall, long term. A Listening Partnership can help you build your patience and resiliency to work through this. Have you used one yet?
Warmly, Anna Cole (Certified Hand in Hand Instructor)
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Understand the root causes of your child's aggression and learn how to stop them hitting, kicking and biting.