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Topic Uncontrollable nephew Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By Melynn On 02/21/04  

My nephew is just over 2 years old. And he will not listen to anything! and I mean anything, unless it is something that he really wants. If you tell him no then he just screams no back at you. He doesn't really talk at all. Just usually grunts or screams.
It wouldn't be such a big problem but everyone has to babysit him like all the time. He doesn't spend a whole lot of weekends with mom and dad. My brother is great with him, but he works a lot. In fact he just got back from California, he had to stay a month there. And on Monday he has to go away for the week and come back on weekends till about May or June.
His mom lets him do anything he wants, from stacking the DVDs up and knocking them over, eating anywhere in the house he wants, and when they come to my house the first thing he does is climb up on my son's bunk bed and throw all of his stuff off-pillows, blankets, once he managed to get his box of baseball cards and toss them. One other time he got eggs out of the refrigerator and threw them all over the floor from the top bunk. My 3 year old did have a hand in that one too. But he will trash the boys's room and then when it's time to go home they just leave. Now on the few occasions that my kids have stayed at thier house, mine have to pick up before they leave. Which I always try to enforce that no matter where we go. It just sits hard when her kid comes over and tears stuff up and leaves, then mine-she makes pick up. Then bitches that she had to ask them to do it.
I know the problem is the way she handles him. She does do a good job with other things with him, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
Anyway, what brings me to ask advice. I have a new niece, she is just about 6 months old (my sister's baby) and my sister has been the one lately to do most of my nephew's babysitting. My nephew has decided my niece needs to eat things. So basically when he is around she has to either hold her constantly or never let them out of her sight. (Se also has a 3 year old). So this is just a bit impossible. So my nephew has managed to get my niece a cookie, tried to give her a peanut m&m. My sister got him stopped, but this morning he managed to get her a balloon that hadn't been blown up. She got it sucked down her throat. The heimleich wouldn't work, because everytime they would try to force the air to push it out, it would just streatch. They finally did get it out by sticking their fingers down her throat. So she is ok, my nephew was scolded and punished. Then later on today he took a plastic toy and smacked her on her forhead with it. It didn't hurt her really bad, but she has a mark now.
My sister has told my brother and his wife what happened. She just said "oh my god, but everything is ok now?"
When my brother is home, he thinks that one night of going out is good enough and everything else, my nephew can go. But when it comes to my sister in law, she just can't do anything at all when he is around.
She is constantly volunteering me to babysit for her and do things for her that I really don't have time to do. I have 3 kids of my own and a job that is usually at night. My kids have extra school stuff that they do too. I basically have my own life and I don't have time to do all her running for her. When I say no she gets upset and won't talk to me. The first thing I think when that happens is -Oh well, that much less I'll get asked to do for a few days.
Now I don't know what to do, when he comes over and makes a mess, or misbehaves, should I just take it upon myself to punish him and risk an argument with her? Or just keep letting her handle it?
I am ready to hide when I see them pull up, and freak when I see their # come up on the caller ID. I can't keep going like this. Should I set ground rules for what I can and can't do for her, or just keep saying no? Maybe she will quit asking if I say no enough.
I don't know!!!! I do know that this is getting dangerous him acting like this.
ANy help would be greatly appreciated. The only thing we have come up with so far is duct taping him to the sofa , and seeing as how that is illegal, we can't really do that.


By melmelon On 02/22/04  

Gotta love family...that's why I keep mine a day's drive away and farther. I'm glad your niece is ok....thats just too scary, but I cant believe their reaction...did your nephew's parents actually "do" anything to punish him, or was it more of a "dont do it again," and thats it? Why is everyone always babysitting for them anyway? Is it work related or so they can have free all have enough kids to worry they return the favour? Am I too nosey, or what? ;) I think I would probably just tell them to find someone else to watch their brat until he learns how to behave have my sympathies.

By looloo On 02/23/04  

what is it that your sister in law does that has him being passed from baby sitter to baby sitter? Is this so she can go to work? Is it not possible to have him in a day care?

It sounds to me that he is lacking structure. He has so many people to you know, a three year olds favorite thing to do is test an adult. Would it be out of line to have an "intervention" of sorts with your brother and sister in law and explain to them that you can not be counted on at all times to watch their child, and tell them point blank, that he is unruly?
It almost seems to me that your sister in law is not wanting to take the responsibility that comes with being a mother, and you and your sister as the loving aunts have unwittingly taken up her slack.

By Melynn On 02/23/04  

She doesn't work outside of home, she just likes a lot of free time. Which once in awhile, going somewhere like the grocery store is a nice treat to do by yourself, but geez, it's like all the time!
So now he doesn't have one set care giver. Which Lucimama made a very good point about that. Without one constant caregiver, it would get confusing. Every kid is going to test their caregivers until they can know what they can and can't get away with. But with my nephew, he has got to feel like he is constantly testing.
My brother and SIL really didn't say anything about what had happened. My sister sat him down for a bit. There really wasn't too much that they could do seeing as how he thought he was giving her something to have fun with.
It was just so disturbing. I know they are going to mess in things, but he is rarely disaplined at home.
Today though-I did something good, I felt good anyway. My SIL called and was asking what time I was going to work. Usually when she does that it's because she wants me to pick her up and take her with me, drop her off at her mom's then pick her up when I am done. That is totally out of my way. First I avoided her, then I just told her that I was really busy and couldn't. It was a small step.

I do really appreciate all the advice! I've got three of my own, but I never had this much trouble with them.


By jasmineT On 02/23/04 child alert! It definately sounds like he's not been taught limits. Then again, it sounds like his mom never learned them either. I know it takes a village to raise a child but each village needs a system of law and order. Your family needs to give your sis-in-law a set of bylaws that she and her son must follow or no free childcare. If she throws a fit you can rescind all visits for, like, 2 months. You could even be snarky and tell her that she's in time out. When she learns to behave and respect your gift of love to her child and your home, she can come back.

By luci_mama On 02/23/04  

Okay, I'm gonna offer what may be an uncomfortable, unconventional opinion. (What else is new, from me?)

My "baby" just turned two, so I've got a concept about what (at least some) two-year-olds are about. He's pretty non-verbal, like your nephew. His older brother, who is 3 1/2, didn't have many words at age two, either. And yes, "No!" is definitely a word that both of them know/knew.

If I were two years old and didn't get to spend much time with either of my parents, or even with one special caregiver, than I probably wouldn't listen to anyone, either. I mean, nobody's listening to HIS needs, are they? His needs for connecting intimately with his closest family members/protectors/loves?

I say this even though both my boys are in other rooms playing and one might say I'm not being an attentive mother because I've been on the computer for a couple of hours now without interacting much with either of them ... I know I'm often guilty of not listening to my boys, saying "uh-huh" and then not following through with what I just agreed to, "neglecting" them in small ways ... and one of the most effective ways they have of reminding me of that is by mirroring the effect to me: I ask or tell them something (I'm especially talking about my bigger boy, with verbal skills), and he ignores me. After awhile of this, I usually recognize that I've been ignoring him, too.

Melynn, I'm not talking about YOU ignoring him, I'm talking about his whole main structure of his life ignoring his basic needs.

As for some of your criticisms of your SIL (who lets him stack DVDs and knock them down) ... well, that's one of those "different strokes" things, I think. Just because she does things differently from you doesn't mean she's wrong, or you're wrong; you're both just handling things differently, which makes the transitions from household to household challenging for a little kid.

At two, he still believes he's the center of the Universe. And personally, I don't think this is a bad thing; God knows there'll be plenty enough of years ahead of him where he has to learn differently.

As for your nephew interacting with your new niece, and your sister (and I've got to admit, I got REALLY confused trying to trace whose kid was whose and who's related to who, how ... maybe initials would be helpful with such a complex story, please?) ... a two year old really doesn't have a clue that a baby can't eat things he can. Hell, he's probably not entirely clear yet about what HE can and can't eat, right? So I'm not willing to name his behavior toward his cousin (not his cousin? I'm confused again about relationships) as "Bad" behavior. I'm not saying it's safe to let him interact with her unsupervised, but I'm refraining from labeling his behavior as "bad" or "mean" or deserves punishment.

I'm not really big into punishment, as you may have gotten from other posts I've written. Granted, I'm not perfect, and have been known to punish my boys, especially the older one, but I don't believe that punishment is the best way to teach good behavior ... and certainly not for little, little kids (preverbal, being one way of delineating "little").

My sister, who's a nanny, disagrees with me, I think, although we've never talked about it directly. The last time my boys and I hung out with her and her granddaughters (who she was nanny-ing for), my older boy was in a bit of tantrum mode (not unknown but also not typical of him). For complicated reasons I won't go into here, I wasn't emotionally available to support him very well, so the tantrums just kept going. When I asked my sister what she thought I could do, her first remark was "he's playing you."

After I got a good night's sleep and got some care for myself (for the extraneous complicated reasons), I realized that my son was right, and was just communicating as loudly and as clearly as he knew how, and he was enormously frustrated by my not hearing him or affirming what was going on for him. Far from manipulating me or "playing me," he was doing his best to communicate clearly ... it's just that his skills are limited and more importantly, MY perception skills were blocked by my own circumstances.

Parenting is hard, hard HARD work. Taking care of someone ELSE's kids is even harder, especially when you love them and care about their lives. Kids' jobs are to (a) use play to learn about the world (i.e., what fun it is to throw eggs and see what happens!), and (b) push limits of their caregivers (because if they didn't, they'd stay in their diapers and lay around forever, wouldn't they? Ideal baby behavior is not ideal growing child or eventually independent adult behavior.)

Kids are sturdy, and smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. But that DOESN'T mean that they understand or buy into the rules that we all see as "natural" and "obvious." Not that the rules are wrong, either, but just that, essentially, kids are from another "culture" that doesn't automatically recognize our adult manners.

I'm talking in circles, and said children are working hard to get my attention again, so I'll stop here and give it to them.

I hope I haven't just muddied the waters entirely, but have given you another perspective to consider.


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