Monday, August 10, 2009

Ask Ashley - Naughty Nick and Nate

Dear Ashley:

I've got a question Nicholas (who will be 3 next month) will see Nathan (17 months) doing something wrong and imitate him, even though he knows it's naughty. For instance, last night I was giving them a bath and Nathan starts splashing like crazy, so Nicholas joins in. I get them to stop, and then it starts again. I am soaked, as is half the bathroom. Another example, Nathan climbs on the coffee table and as I'm trying to get him down, Nicholas does the same, even though he knows better. I'm not sure how to discipline them because they're both doing the same naughty thing, but Nicholas understands time-out and consequences (like no books). Nathan still has no clue. Is it fair to discipline the one and not the other? And how do I get Nicholas to stop imitating Nathan's naughty behavior? I figured since you have two boys with about the same age space you might be able to help!



Okay, whoever labeled it the "Terrible Two's" must have never had a three year old. Three year olds are way, way more misbehaved than two year olds. And they're smarter, which just leads them to more trouble. So strap in for the ride my friend.

Second, YES, it is absolutely fair to discipline one and not the other! You said it yourself--Nicholas knows he's doing something wrong. He learned that splashing in the tub and climbing on the coffee table were wrong probably when he was 17 months like his brother. So it's not fair to punish Nathan for things he is only not learning are wrong. Nicholas knows better and therefore should be punished. That said, you're nearing the time that Nathan can go into time out--I think Mason was 18 months when we started.

As to how to stop the imitation... I would bet Nicholas is acting out for attention. You are a busy mom (is there any other kind?) and he sees Nathan being naughty and garnering your attention for it. Even negative attention is attention. I would probably try to set aside some time each day only for Nicholas and you and/or Nicholas and daddy. Start now because (knowing you're pregnant with another baby) it's only going to get worse! My general rule of thumb is that when kids are behaving badly it's a cry for attention. Try it and see what happens. Good luck!

Gotta question? Email steppedonalego[at]gmail dot com.

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