Jump to content
Controlling attention-seeking behaviour
10 replies to this topic
Posted 23 March 2009 - 03:24 PM
At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful, complaining mum, I am going to go out on a limb and say my almost-three-year-old is driving me nuts!
Before we became a family of four when Ethan was born seven weeks ago, Noah had been the centre of attention. I’m not saying he was spoilt, but he was our only child and was the only grandchild so he had no one to share attention with. He has to adjust this comfortable view of life and accept he is one of two children and that attention he took for granted now has to be shared.
He loves his little brother dearly and is very protective of “his baby”, so much so that he shields Ethan with his entire body from curious children at day care. This is all very cute, as is his gentle patting of Ethan’s head as I feed him, or his concern when Ethan cries. But his behaviour towards others since Ethan’s arrival is what this post is really about.
As I outlined in my last post, Noah tends to become very naughty while I am feeding Ethan, which creates at least three sessions of stress between us every day. His behaviour includes various attention-seeking stunts, but the worst so far have been hitting and pinching me, calling me stupid, pulling the foot stool out from underneath my feet and jumping on top of me (and obviously the baby).
I am trying my best to keep cool in these situations – for all our sakes – but I am finding the situation more and more frustrating every day. I know he is doing it because he wants my attention and I am trying to combat this by reading to him while I feed, praising him when he does something good and ignoring him when he is acting out. The ignoring method seems to be working best now, as he doesn’t get the sought-after attention and switches to something else, like giving me a cuddle or playing with his toys. These are much nicer scenarios!
His bad behaviour has now even extended to his interaction with his dad and grandparents. Noah now argues about everything we want him to do, like eating meals, having a bath or shower, cleaning up his toys etc and it usually ends up with him yelling at one of us. He also laughs at us when we tell him he’s been naughty. When one of his grandparents cuddles Ethan, Noah either jumps on top of them or ignores them completely, giving them the cold shoulder for long afterwards.
So how do I get back to peaceful feeding times and have more of those lovely cuddles my son gives? I kept thinking the tantrums and bad behaviour that came on just before he turned two would lessen once he turned three, but as that’s only a few weeks away I can see I was deluded! I realise it’s a difficult adjustment for him to make now he has a brother, and so I constantly try to give him my attention when I can and reward good behaviour. I don’t want him resenting Ethan – or us.
How did your children cope when you had a second, third, fourth… child and what worked for you when their behaviour got out of hand?
Posted 24 March 2009 - 02:28 PM
sorry i don't really have any advice for you just thought you might like to know that you are not alone! from your blog i felt like i was reading exactly about my life - only my second child is noah!
my almost-three year old jasper was exactly the same when noah arrived, playing up the most when i was feeding noah, by the time the feed was over there would be toys absolutely everywhere because jasper would be throwing things all over the place for attention. Jasper is also very protective of his new brother but the anger was somehow displaced to everyone else... all i can say is for us it did get better after 2-3mths.
However, Jasper has recently become very defiant, clingy and difficult (i too thought this would improve as he approached three yrs old but seems to be getting worse). yikes!
like i said, this is no help to you but do let me know if any good advice comes your way!
Posted 24 March 2009 - 02:55 PM
I must agree that this behaviour is very frustrating - we are going through a similar thing with our oldest son, who is at school. I have found some great reading on the subject, you can find it by doing an internet search on Dr Nigel Mellor - his website has links to a youtube video where he explains this attention-seeking behaviour and how to handle it.
Basically it involves
* ignoring the small stuff (even if it is very annoying),
* giving heaps of praise for the good stuff the child does (he advises creating phantom jobs for the child to complete to provide opportunity for praise),
* for the big bad stuff give a warning then if it continues give swift and predictable consequences.
The child is looking for attention and we need to make sure s/he learns that they will get the most attention for good behaviour.
Good luck with it all! It's so difficult to deal with this behaviour with a new-born baby and not much sleep!
Posted 24 March 2009 - 05:19 PM
We hit terrible twos with Holly at about 2 1/2 soon after Michael was born. It has continued in various more challenging and sofisticated forms for the last 2 years, and I see no apparant end in sight. Sibling rivalry and competition for attention are, I think, the main drivers and it's all about mum. I should be flattered, but I'm often flattened by my 4 1/2 year old's behaviour. We have days where it's one telling off after the next. Time out, priviledges withdrawn, bribery, tears and tantrums (and that's just me ).
But, they love each other completely. Michael misses Holly when she's at pre-school and they play beautifully together in between fights. She protect him and thinks of him in everything she does. She can be kind and concerned and loving and thoughtful. We just have to get the balance right. I'm told, by the time they get to school there is a natural maturing in behaviour. You then get a few less volatile years before the teens begin.
The main advice I have is to keep your resources up in order to cope. I didn't follow my own advice, and it makes it very hard to cope sometimes. It is almost impossible not to be tired with a new baby, but if you can take advantage of grandparents, dad, babysitters and friends, then take time out for yourself, to sleep, to pamper yourself, to re-charge your batteries so you are armed and ready for the next round of challenging behaviour.
A wise lady told me that children sense your level of wellbeing and if resources are low, they don't naturally get the attention they want and they play up more. If you are well, healthy and happy, they sense this as well, and somehow play up less. So looking after yourself has double benefits.
Posted 24 March 2009 - 07:05 PM
Hi there I know exactly what you are going through!!! I like you had the same scenario last year in September but the only difference was my sister-in-law had her first baby 5 weeks after my second son so my son got hit twice. It is very hard but after 4 months my son started to get use to his little brother and realising he can do more interesting things than just sleep. Now my second son is 7 months and my eldest who will be 4 years in July has got an audience when he does silly things.
As for the grandparents both at times get the cold shoulder or "I don't want you to talk to me" etc but they understand and still give him attention.
It gets better and better when your eldest realises the baby will do more as he/she grows.
Posted 24 March 2009 - 09:54 PM
Oh my gosh that sounds very similar to what happened to my first child. After my second child was born, my first child (20 months) became very cold towards me. He refused to give me any cuddles and would push me away when I tried to hug or kiss him. He became very clingy to his dad and would shriek his lungs out whenever my husband had to go to the toilet. He also gave my parents the cold shoulder and was very rude and abrupt to them no matter how much love and attention they gave him. He also started hitting everyone, especially my husband and me. With all the sleepless nights and fights with my first child, everything just seemed like a blur for a period of 4 months, then all of a sudden, my first child just snapped out of it and became more tolerant again. He probably realised that the second child was not going anywhere no matter what he did.
Posted 25 March 2009 - 01:23 PM
Hi Jo, there's 17months difference between my son and daughter. When my daughter was born I made a effort to have my son get involved with everything to do with his little sister. We'd go and get the cushion and 'sickie rug' for mummy. Then he'd sit next to me and stroke her little hand whilst I fed. We'd also bathe her together. He'd get the baby shampoo etc. So I guess it helped including him in the day to day things. She's two and he's 3 1/2 and they love each other dearly. It's easy for me to suggest all these things to you, as there were times when he'd get bored, but I hope this advice helps
Posted 25 March 2009 - 01:35 PM
Why not offer your older child a breastfeed too. It would give him something wonderful to share with his younger brother and even if he says no he might just enjoy cuddling up to your other breast while you nurse the baby and it may help him feel less jealous.
My 2 1/2 loves to cuddle up to my other breast while my newborn is feeding and it helps us all feel like we are sharing that special time together.
Edited by puffin, 25 March 2009 - 01:36 PM.
Posted 25 March 2009 - 02:22 PM
Thanks for your great replies vicks-, Phillipa_M, helenparr, cindus_c, merk, luckyaussiemum, leesybee and puffin.
It made my day to know everyone is is struggling/struggled along the way I do. I love both my boys to bits, but just need everything to go smoothly every once in a while!
Posted 25 March 2009 - 05:50 PM
My baby is 11 weeks old and her brother is 2.5. There have been many challenging times...I was given some literature that compared a new sibling to how we would feel if our husband brought home a new wife! It helped me when I felt really frustrated with my boy.
Advice - don't sweat the small stuff, no matter how messy it is, agree with the person who said only react to really bad behaviour, such as hurting the baby or you. Make some time as often as you can to go to the park with your son alone, not with the baby. Let him watch his favourite TV show during feeds - yes he will be watching more TV than you like but it's not forever, and it will help you.
Good luck, it gets better when they forget that there was a time without their sibling - 4-6 months.
Posted 27 March 2009 - 08:23 AM
Clare, comparing a new sibling with a new wife puts things into perspective a bit! What a great way to relate. This will make me look at things differently.
Your reply had some excellent advice - thank you.
2 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 2 guests, 0 anonymous users
Get your free ticket to the Sydney Essential Baby & Toddler Show for September 25-27 - register online now.
Desperate, out of petrol and low on food, a new mother lit a fire in the hope of attracting attention.
The story was chilling and heartbreaking: a three-year-old boy was found dead in a Southern Maryland park, his mother pushing him on the swing.
Feeling fatigued? Uh-huh, thought as much. Join the queue.
For many new dads, their own child is the first baby they have ever held. So one dad has posted an instructive YouTube video titled "How to Hold a Baby".
She may be only eight months old, but Egypt has already amassed more than 100,000 fans and received a letter from royalty - Hollywood royalty that is.
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have invited well-wishers to see Princess Charlotte outside church in Sandringham on day of her baptism.
Tongue and lip tie can lead to many problems for babies - and their parents. Here are the signs of tongue tie and how it's treated.
My daughter may be small, but it's my job as her parent to refocus back where it belongs - on who she is as a person
The government has issued a health warning after a rise in allergic skin reactions has been linked to a preservative found in some wet wipes.
Love may have won, but it came with quite the wait.
The family of missing boy William Tyrrell will mark his fourth birthday on Friday making a cake to share with friends and family as NSW police renewed their public appeal for information on his disappearance.
A picture of Ryan Reynolds always gets the girls talking, and a recently shared photo has done exactly that - but this time, it's for all the wrong reasons.
Thinking her baby just had an unusually shaped head, a mother was shocked to discover it was instead linked to a dangerous condition.
My toddler has started hitting when he gets frustrated, is feeling ignored, or just thinks it might be fun.
Transparency, accountability and responsibilityare essential measures to protect IVF vulnerable patients.
This day marks a significant day. Today marks 10 years since I lost my son Kai.
The happily ever after Nicola Milan had imagined wasn't to be – and she blames her mother-in-law.
Choosing a name for your little bundle of joy is always a major decision. It can be something traditional, trendy, creative … or inspired by the menu of your favourite chain restaurant.
It's been a whole year since sleeping in until 10am. A whole year since having a peaceful shower.
Over a 10-year period, 83 children died from domestic violence abuse in NSW, with three quarters of the victims aged five years or under, the NSW Ombudsman has revealed.
Dr Katie Heathershaw answers questions about jumping, toe walking, riding a bike and being pigeon toed.
From the moment that I fell pregnant with my son, I realised just how much my life had already started to change.
"I was terrified I would always be this way. The pill needs to come with a much higher warning."
Unfortunately, the belief that sex should always be spontaneous is a myth. It just isn't.
When it comes to newborn photoshoots, it is all about the timing.
Former All Black Jerry Collins' critically injured orphaned daughter has awoken from her coma and is able to bottle-feed.
One American father has taken multitasking to a new level at a Cubs-Dodgers baseball game at Wrigley Field.
Having lost their firstborn at one day old, the Carrolls were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Isobel into the world a year later.
The Studio host Sarah Harris doesn't mind if her first baby is a boy or girl, but she does hope it is born with one thing in particular.
Top 5 Articles
Ultrasounds give you a look at your growing baby ... and sometimes what appears to their womb-buddy, or your bub in an amusing position.
From 'morning sickness' to 'the terrible twos', there are many parenting terms that are misleading.
While most nannies take pride in their work, there can be some who have a hidden side.
Beware: skinny jeans might be bad for your health.
A number of women having caesarean deliveries are now taking steps to give their baby a better 'microbiome' start in life.
Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC's The Tonight Show, recently wrote a children's book about every father's secret wish for their baby's first word to be "dada" - not "mama".
Looking for some baby name inspiration for a bub born during the colder months? Here are 28 options from around the world to consider.
The uncle of the seven-year-old girl at the centre of the brawl at child's birthday party in Sydney's west has described the events leading up to the alarming show of violence.
More often than not, you'll read that screen time for children should be kept to a minimum - but some scientists are now challenging this way of thinking.
Natalie Reilly describes three main types of conversations mothers have. And, surprise, they're not all about kids.
A baby's smell, the noises it makes and even its gaze can contribute to the potential for a dog attack.
It was meant to be a tasteful cake to help celebrate a three-year-old's christening.
How many times have you been warned about all the sleepless nights you have to 'look forward to' when you become a parent?
A police officer arrived at a devastating scene on Thursday: a car crash resulting in all passengers being thrown from the vehicle.
Want to open the boardroom doors for women? Encourage - heck, praise - dads who stay home with their children.
Just two days after giving birth, actor Alec Balwin's wife posted a post-baby picture on social media.
Compliance is part of the parent-child relationship, but so is resistance. It's all natural.
The Baird government will include $22.8 million in Tuesday's NSW budget to expand a program designed to help parents at risk of postnatal depression (PND).
I'm really lucky to have two great kids, but I found it really tough with so much being aimed at the mothers and not the fathers.
Get your free ticket to the Sydney Essential Baby & Toddler Show for September 25-27 - register online now.