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Help me! My 3 year old just hurt our newborn!

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

My 3 year old son just hurt his 1 month old baby sister while they were in their car seats.

I am not sure what he did, we just heard her screaming and then pulled over to find her mouth bleeding.

My husband tended to the baby while I tried to find out what happened.

When I asked my son what happened, he wouldn't answer me. I told him calmly that he wasn't going to get in trouble but that I needed to know what happened so that I could help his baby sister. He looked away and closed his eyes and refused to tell me. I then began to get nervous and cry and plead with him to tell me (usually he hates to see me cry- even tears of joy) but then he began to smile and almost laugh! He wouldn't answer his father either.

I am freaked out and I feel very angry with him. However, he is just a child and I don't want to make him feel unloved. However, I really want nothing to do with him right now.

He loves her and is super excited about being a big brother. In fact, he tells everyone (even strangers) that he has a baby sister.

How should I handle him? I want him to know the seriousness of his actions without traumatizing him. 

post #2 of 4

Whatever you do, don't plead and cry and beg a child to answer you.


He is three and he will need reminding that hurting others is unacceptable.  Also, there should be consequences should he do it again.

post #3 of 4

Can you separate the car seats so he can't reach her again or sit in the back with them and keep a close eye on him at all times until he gets over his desire to hurt her?  That will help prevent them from reaching each other when he is bored or decides to reach over.  I don't have two kids, but even when kids are just over on playdates it still saves my sanity to have them separated on each side of the car so they can't reach each other easily when they get bored. 


I think you should avoid crying and pleading with him next time.  Knowing specifically what happened isn't a big deal in most cases.  What is important is treating the injury and firmly letting him know that hurting others isn't acceptable.  On the rare occasions my dd decided to experiment with violence I used time-out.  It was the only time I used it and that made it very effective.  I also tried to address the feelings that caused her to get so angry that she would hurt someone else afterwards though.  Usually she acted out because she was feeling overwhelmed with our lifestyle in general and something little pushed her over the edge.  I think that this overall is what made a difference.  I have heard really good things about Siblings Without Rivalry and that book may help you pinpoint sibling related feelings and strategies to help alleviate them that you haven't thought about.

post #4 of 4

I don't really have advice for the specific situation you describe, other than to agree that getting him to tell you exactly what happened was probably not necessary for dealing with it, although I'll bet the message that it was serious and unacceptable came through.  I mostly just want to say that when my (then 2.5yo) ds first hit his new baby brother, he had never hit anyone before and I was shocked and so angry!!  I had never shown him what hitting is, never sensed he was anything but excited about the baby, didn't see it coming at ALL.  But it was (is) just his personality, to not know what to do with intense/jealous feelings and it would come out physically.  I don't know if your car incident was sibling stuff or some one-time accident, but just know it's not uncommon for big brother to try to hit/hurt the baby.  If you get the feeling it's going to be a pattern, just don't leave them alone together and have a consistent and hopefully somewhat calm reaction to it.  I think I overdid it the first few times and I think he kind of tried for the reaction for a while.  This was all 6 years ago but I remember my shock at seeing him bop the baby on the head!!  :(

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