Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/My son's behavior
I am writing about my youngest child. He is 2 years, 3 months old. He has always been very bright, independent, and opinionated, doing everything his big brother (4 yo) does and talking in full sentences by the time he was 14 months. He is very empathic, easily recognizing other's emotions by looking at the expressions on their faces, and very funny. He is also very charismatic. Everywhere he goes (daycare, family events, friends houses, etc), everyone falls in love with his little personality and willingness to cuddle, hug, kiss, etc. Anyway, in the last month or so, I have noticed some behaviors of concerns that seem to be beyond what my oldest son exhibited at this stage (perhaps I just got lucky the first go around), and I am wondering if they are normal, but also how to handle them. For example, he has always been pretty adept at getting his needs met (saying that he wants his diaper changed at bedtime, during a long meal at a restaurant, or at another time when he just wants to get out of whatever we are doing, but never any other time), but lately, if I don't meet his need immediately, he is acting out in subtly aggressive ways, if that makes sense. In one instance, I was out for ice cream with my two boys alone. I was sitting in between them to help them both eat. My youngest was done eating and I asked him to wait for his brother to finish. A few minutes later, he said, "I pooped". Since the diaper bag was in the car and my other son had maybe a 3rd left of ice cream, I asked him to wait one minute for his brother to finish. I turned to my other son and asked if I could feed him, and when my youngest declared (with a smile) "I have poopy on my hand." And he did. So naturally, we threw out the ice cream, raced to the car to change/clean him, etc. But he has never done that before. In another instance, after dinner, he and his brother were sitting at the kitchen table while I cleared the table and rinsed the dishes (we do this every night, it takes just a few minutes and I am just across the room). At one point, he asked me to let him down. I told him to give mommy a minute and I would be right there. When I walked over to let him out, again with a smile, he said "I scratched the table" and when I looked down, I saw that he had stabbed the table repeatedly with this fork leaving holes all over the table top. I told him I was upset by this and it is not OK, but he seemed unphased. These are just two examples, but the list could go on. I am not sure if this is normal and also how to respond when he does these things, as I am almost forced into giving him what he wants when wants it. Please help....
Honestly, I think you did get a little lucky the first time, however, no matter what it takes - stay strong and DO NOT GIVE IN. Given his age, he's at a point where he will be testing you to see if he can use negative behaviors to get his way. It sounds like you attempt to balance things between both children and only ask reasonable expectations. This is good. However, I do not know what discipline you utilize with your children. I, personally, do believe in popping their hand and occasionally smacking their bottom as I have found the typical "time out" does not work for my children (especially with multiple children where you have to try to keep one sitting in time out while still attending to the other, completing household tasks, etc). In the case of the ice cream, there wasn't much you could do for your older son given the circumstances, however the older one would have received some "special treat" when we got home for having had to get rid of his ice cream for his brother's behavior. In the case of the table, he would have gotten his hand smacked.
Unfortunately, no matter how empathetic a child is, just talking to them with no punishment behind it doesn't really reach them, and I've found with my 10 year old (second child) that it just gave her more ammunition on how to push my buttons faster.
My current 2 year old (will be 3 in February) is still not talking (due to 4 older siblings who figure out what he wants and give it to him) and we did make the concession to potty train him by getting him a potty seat to keep in the living room as he would bring his diaper in, after removing it, bring us the wipes and the new diaper. However, he will attempt now to talk in syllables "I. Go. Pot." "Box" (for cereal in the morning while standing in the kitchen pointing at the box on the fridge). However, he will get sneaky and the minute you go to the bathroom, is into everything he shouldn't be.
My 10 year old was the more direct at that age and the standing joke was that she would call you from the next room and say "You know that vase you told me not to knock over....." and then push it over in front of us. A few good pops on the rear end curbed that behavior really quick.
We do follow up ANY and ALL physical punishment with the younger ones with time sitting or standing in the corner, followed by an explanation of what they did wrong and why it was wrong. With the older ones, they get the explanation first, then get a pop on the rear end (never more than 3 swats and never with anything other than our hand) and then sent to their room. Unfortunately, given this behavior, if you "give in" by trying to anticipate what he will do wrong and then create a situation where he has his way in order to avoid this behavior, he will continue to show out and will get into even more over time to where he draws all the attention to himself, which will then cause your other son to act out whether he wants to or not, just to get some attention back on himself and you'll be in an even worse predicament.
I would also talk to his pediatrician about having his IQ tested, as it sounds like he's a very, very smart child and, if he is smarter than average, this may cause a sense of being bored if he is not engaged in something at all times. Next trip to the ice cream parlor, maybe take a coloring book for him to occupy himself while his brother finishes (or his brother if he's still eating).