[Letter has been condensed by BFM]
My question is about how to handle my brother-in-law who is so incredibly over-stimulating/shows poor judgement when interacting with my toddler son (almost 3 years old).
We don't see my brother-in-law frequently, but when we do, his interactions with my son include repeated forced tickling, throwing/dropping my son, and other physical play that he thinks is funny but is bordering on abuse in my/my husband's opinions.
... In the past, I have intervened and told my brother-in-law to stop, as has my sister (his wife) and my mother. My brother-in-law will only briefly stop, but whatever he does next will be equally objectionable.
My son is a very sociable, resilient kid. And these play sessions tend to involve lots of shrieking, laughing, and screaming on my son's part, which I am assuming my brother-in-law thinks means he is having fun. But after my BIL leaves, my son is SO over-stimulated, and he usually has a giant melt-down/tantrum which is just painful to watch. Sometimes my son will tell my brother-in-law to stop what he is doing, but he usually will only listen if an adult tells him to stop.
My brother-in-law shows very poor judgement in general, even with adults. As a result of this, he has been the cause of repeated minor injuries to himself/other people and property damage. Adults are frequently asking him to stop inappropriate behaviors, and he has trouble listening to adults as well.
It has gotten so that my husband and I can barely stand to be around my brother-in-law, due to his behavior with our son. Any suggestions for how to handle this?
Thank you so much in advance!
From: Over-stimulated in Hamilton (state not included)
As a parent, your #1 job is to keep your child healthy and safe. Teach your son that he is in charge of his own body and if anyone -- including a relative, or Uncle X (by name) -- plays in a way he doesn't like, he can ask them to stop. If they don't, he can stop playing, leave the room or yell for help, all without being rude. Role play this with him. Not only will that help him understand the coping skills in a concrete way, but it will also give you a window into his feelings about the interactions.
I would certainly never permit your brother-in-law to be alone with your son, not even for a few minutes. Among other things, it sounds like he has problems with impulse control. I would also tell him that you expect him to stop whatever he's doing when his nephew -- your son -- or an adult tells him to. Lastly, I'd put him on warning that if he can't be with and follow these rules, he will no longer be welcome to be with your son, whatever that means.
Your son also needs to see you remind Uncle about these rules in his presence; he needs to know -- your son, that is -- that you take seriously the job of protecting him.
It's not easy to read the riot act to a relative. I don't see that you have any other choice.
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