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I cannot control my two year old son and his misbehavior is ruining our family

heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
I'm Muslim and have strong faith and believe in GOD and all his prophets without exceptions. We were created to convey the GOD message of integrity, peace, praying and to follow all GOD's instructions to win the heaven and hope it will be paradise, which is higher than heaven and we must keep away from all sins that lead us to enter the hell.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
Firstly, to have the happiest family and grow my kids very positively. And secondly, to help people in any area that I can. I hope to be one of the famous self-help speakers to help humankind to grow.
Peace on you. I'm 32-years old, married and have three kids. The elder is my daughter and she is 5.5 years, the second is a boy and he is 2 years (tomorrow his birthday) and the latest also a boy (2 months). My question is about my second son.

Just before going further, I'd like to inform you that whatever complaints or problems I have, it is my responsibility to change and I don't blame my son. The situation we are in today is because of us. Now let's back to my child:

He is hyperactive - doesn't listen to whatever we ask him to do, is aggressive, very jealous, especially of the new baby, and he always does his best to reach him and hit the baby's head - he did it many times. He cries and shouts most of the time. We try to punish him, we used the time-out, but it is useless. We tried to keep him there for two minutes and before doing that we tell him why, but he keeps crying and shouting like crazy for a long time without give any attention to what we are saying.

Unfortunately, many times we lost our temper and hit him. I know that it is wrong and this will increase the problem, but whatever I can say will not express the actual picture. My wife and I always have tension and sometimes shout at each other because of the bad environment we have. My wife is very disappointed and one time told me that one day you will come and find I have committed suicide because of him... don't worry, she was exaggerating just to tell me how bad her psych is.

This problem affects all our life aspects, social relation, concentration at work, etc. You know, because of this situation and the feeling I have that I cannot control my 2 year old son, I have a very low self-esteem and image. You can not imagine how sad we are. We love him very much and are ready to do anything for him. I don't want him to grow with this bad character. I want him to be respectful and very disciplined in his life in future.

Please guide me what to do and from where to start. My family is my greatest value in life. Thanks.

Wallace's reply
I would like to start by saying that I am delighted to receive questions on nurturing children, but point out that I answer them using the principles of personal development I have discovered over my life-time and that, since I have never had children of my own, I do not write from personal experience on these matters.

Your child is going through what some parents call the "Terrible Two's." This is a period when the young child is learning to separate his identity from that of his parents - to develop a sense of self. For that to happen successfully the child needs to feel powerful and in control.

Of course, a two year old does not have the wisdom or experience to guide his own life, but what parents can do is learn to work with this emerging separate identity that the child is developing and not to fight with it or squash it.

So how can this be achieved when your child insists in inappropriate behavior like hitting the baby in the family? You can end power struggles by taking the focus off meaningless arguments, and putting it back where it belongs - on responsibility. For as the child learns to be responsible, you can gradually give him more and more freedom. Until, hopefully, the day comes at 18 years of age, when you let go entirely and let the young adult manage, and be responsible for, his own life.

The secret to managing a two year old (or any child at or above this age) is to put the emphasis on rewards for good behavior, rather than punishments for bad behavior, and to begin to establish the link between good behavior and responsibility. Also in your case, your child may well be jealous of the new baby and this jealousy is only being compounded by his experience of being punished, while the new baby is lavished with love and affection! This is why your family environment and family relationships have spiraled downward.

Consequently, rather than punish your child I recommend you are more loving and affectionate. I suggest you sit down with you child at a time when he is calm and apologize for punishing him and hitting him, and explain to your child that what you did was wrong and now you want to create "Time in" - periods when your child has exclusive access to play with you - his father. Then set up a rule for yourself and your child that you will play with your child on his own, for a set amount of time each evening, and that this happening is dependant on your child not hitting his baby brother and on other good behaviors that you want him to learn.

Make sure your child understands and is clear about the good behaviors you want him to learn and that your willingness to spend the full hour (or whatever time period you choose) is dependent on him fulfilling his side of the agreement. Before you begin "Time in" discuss your child's behavior that day and congratulate him for his good behavior. If he has misbehaved, explain how you are not happy with the times when he has not fulfilled his side of the contract and agree the "Time in" period accordingly. Then set the clock and keep your word, playing faithfully with your child as you promised - at the appointed hour.

If your child misbehaved, then still play with him exclusively - but only for part of the full hour. Reassure him that you want to play with him for the full hour, and that you love him dearly, but you are unable to because he has broken his side of the agreement. As you do this be sure and explain why you are taking this step. E.g. "It is wrong to hit your baby brother, because he loves you and he needs you to love him".

Then at different periods in the day, if your son misbehaves, you or your wife can say to him, "Your father will have to reduce your time with him today - you will not be able to play with him as long as you would like to."

Through these means your son always experiences your love and can be assured of it, but also knows that he will receive even more expression of that love if he behaves correctly. He is also learning why he needs to behave in certain ways - he is learning responsibility.

recommended Then also create some time when your two year old son can be with his baby brother, supervised of course, and can show love and respect towards his baby brother by touching and stroking him affectionately. In this way, and by these means, you will gradually bring unity and harmony to your family relationships and the stress you are experiencing will decline.

To help you with this process I recommend you purchase The Total Transformation Program. This program contains all the information and practical methods you will need. It...

I am confident you will learn very helpful needed skills and understanding from buying this program. Through implementing my advice and with the additional help and support of the Total Transformation Program, you will be able to fulfill your hope and aspiration - to have the happiest family and grow my kids very positively.


Amit Shar, January 2009:
Based on my personal experience of raising two extremely sweet and well behaved boys (one is 8 and another is 6). My advice is to try the following

Both these methods have been tried by me personally and also by some of my friends and we have had amazing results.

Also, it is important that you are peaceful because a child is a reflection of the parent and I would advise you to meditate and be happy and peaceful, especially in the presence of the child.

Patrick Gallivan, January 2009:
I'm not in agreement with your suggestion that the child should be rewarded to encourage him to be on good behaviour. A reward can be a gentle pat on the head, or just saying, 'good boy'. But buying a new toy, or a bar of chocolate, isn't the correct way of rewarding him. A word, or a hug, yes, but a gift, no! I believe a material gift sets a standard that he will expect as he goes through life. I agree there should not be serious physical punishment for his misbehaviour, but in the event of a violent attack on the baby, a rap on the head or hand, could settle the matter. It's something he will remember! At that stage of their lives, children are like little animals. If the dog misbehaves a rap helps it to learn that it will receive the same again if it crosses the line of good behaviour. Most people learn through pain; put your hand in a flame, it will hurt, and you will not do it again. Lesson learnt!
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