Thursday, February 21, 2008


I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book.
Groucho Marx

I don't remember this problem when we had our second child, but our oldest seems to be jealous. On some levels, this is an incredibly complex situation, on other levels it all turns back to simplicity.

So here's the problem. The Mugwump has a growing tendency of sitting on Six-Pense. It's really pretty agressive and generally results in a crying 2 year old. So why does he do this? Because innevitably he gets in trouble. That's what he wants is attention, and he gets it when he sits on a younger brother, or pokes a brother in the eye.

What's the solution? We started sending the Mugwump to his room without toys. If he can't play nicely with his brothers, a natural consequence would be for him to not be able to play with his brothers. That was an OK idea, but it increased the jealousy and there is no way to send a kid to his room without giving him attention and then giving him additional attention when he gets out of his room. And what if he misbehaves in his room, or refuses to stay in there? He gets further attention. It didn't work out well.

It was time for parents to regroup. What is the main underlying problem? Oldest son didn't feel as loved as the others. So the solution ends up being quite simple. Show him that we love him just as much as the others. Instead of dealing out consequences, we've taken to preemtive displays of love.

How crazy is it that showing love worked so well at improving the behavior of a child? I don't know, but I would bet that this same principle could work in many different situations.


Steely Dan said...

This has nothing to do with parenting, but bikes. Check out:

Heffalump said...

Praising him when he is playing nicely with his brothers will help. And when he hurts a brother, paying attention to the one that is hurt might make him rethink his strategy.

Emily Allan Wood said...

You guys are wonderful parents because you go beyond reaction and pro actively think about these situations and ways to resolve them using love and respect for your children rather than dominance. I love how you parent. Well done.

My alternative explanation would be to send him to grandma's house for awhile...but he's probably too young for that. :)