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Ask Grandma Maggie

Parenting & Childcare Advice
Peggy Moss (1933-2014), also known as Grandma Maggie, penned a parenting column on this site for many years. Back by popular demand, we are republishing the column, sharing with you the best of Grandma Maggie’s parenting and childcare advice.
Unfortunately Grandma Maggie is no longer able to take questions.

My stepson is troubled and I don’t know what to do.
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Dear Grandma Maggie,

My stepson is 3 years old and he’s always fighting with his cousin or friends. He’s really aggressive and has really bad behavior. I tried time outs and no toys but it seems like I can’t get it through to him. He won’t share any of his toys. I am really worried.

I have seen professional help but they always tell me there’s nothing wrong with him. I’m getting scared because I want him to have a better life. He’s always saying that he’s a gangster and always talking about killing. I don’t know what else I can do to help him control his behavior.

Friend,

First, I cannot imagine a professional telling you there is nothing wrong with your son if they have seen the behavior you describe. He sounds like a scared little boy. If I were you, I would ask his pediatrician or medical provider to recommend a professional that you can see first and describe what is going on. Of course, the child’s worst behavior is saved for those he trusts to still love him no matter what. However, I think you must work diligently with a professional to see that he is helped before he begins school. Could it be that he misses his biological mother and that is making him angry? You don’t mention if she is part of the picture or not so I am really just taking a guess here. Nevertheless, keep seeking help until you get it as constantly talking about killing is not normal behavior.

Kindest regards, Grandma Maggie