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How do I deal with my 3-year-old son's aggressive behaviour?

Q: We have 3 years old fraternal twins. Our son is very aggressive and short tempered. He has always been very demanding and would start crying and biting every time his demands are not fulfilled. He wants the same toys which his sister is playing with and harms her if she refuses to give them to him. He is often unwilling to share things with her though he cannot even live without her. For the last 5-6 weeks, he has started biting and pushing other children in his school as well. Every time I talk to him he confesses and would promise not to do the same but forgets everything within minutes. He has always been very close his dad. However, due to certain changes at his work, he has been transferred to a different city 6 months back. We just meet for 2-3 days a month. After 7-8 weeks, we would be shifting to my husband's new place. I try to be patient with my son but at many occasions have ended up slapping him or shouting at him. How do I change his behaviour? To add, other children only want to play with our daughter. I can't stop others comparing the two in front of them, though I know it worsens things. He is bright kid otherwise and is very innovative too. We as parents just want to make sure his stubborn nature should not harm his growth. Please tell us what should we do.

A:Part of the problem may be that your son is missing his father. At the age of 3 years, there is a strong identification with the same sex parent i.e. a girl with her mother and a boy with his father. At a subtle level, he feels deprived. In addition, others compare the two children and appreciate his sister. There is also something as inborn nature and everything cannot be attributed only to how we bring up children. When you are all together for 7-8 weeks, try and organise things so that the children are together only for some of the time. Even when they are in the same room, they can be doing different things. Plan to have more physical activity for the boy, because he has a lot of energy that needs to be spent. Expecting him to sit and play with blocks may be unrealistic. He may need to run around, ride a tricycle, and catch a big balloon or ball. It is tough to stop others comparing the two, but that does not give you the sanction to beat him. Withdrawal of some activity he likes or not talking to him for some time may be the best kinds of punishment. Talking patiently to your child and explaining the rules over and over again, telling him you love him even when you disapprove of his behaviour -- these are some of the strategies you can follow. When they go to the next class, it might be a good idea for them to be in different sections of the same class in school.


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