My 3 year old is having difficulty respecting other people's boundaries. This has been an ongoing problem.
When I am overwhelmed and need some space (to count to 10 and breathe, not a very long time at all), I used to be able to shut a door behind me and collect myself. For the past year or so this hasn't been possible. I will tell her I need some space and go in another room and she will follow me. If I lock the door she will scream and yell and kick the door and it makes it impossible for me to decompress. This is really not a good thing, I'm an abuse survivor with anger problems and this was my best coping strategy.
Aside from this she doesn't respect the baby's space either. My 1 year old will cry and she will come right up in her face and laugh at her and taunt her. I've told her over and over that this is not okay. My current strategy is to first make sure the baby is unharmed, then I take my 3 year old and hold her (she usually has a limb-flailing tantrum at this point) until she is calm again. This strategy keeps the peace but has not stopped the behavior.
She does it to her father, too. He has a very even temper and is a peaceful guy but when he is stressed out she badgers him relentlessly. She doesn't bother him when he's in a good mood.
She is a very sweet kid and will give you a blanket and a stuffed animal to snuggle with if you are tired, she will console you if you are crying and she shares all of her food and toys with everyone. But, In general, she has a problem giving people space when they are angry or stressed.
This has been a problem for a long time, about a year. It hasn't been until very recently that I've started to think it needed fixing. I thought maybe she will grow out of it, or maybe she is just picking up on bad strategies for dealing with anger from me. Really I have been looking for causes and trying to eliminate them. Her dad has a tendency to be a verbal bully and I've tried to help him identify and stop that and he has improved. I pour all of my energy into resisting all of my impulses to be angry, I fail as often as I succeed but I am doing my best.
It is a safety issue now, though. We adopted a very sweet cat, who lets the little ones play with and pet her without issue. I've told Evelynn that cats need to be treated with respect because they have feelings just like people and showed her how when the cat moves her tail really fast it means she wants to be left alone, and when she hisses she is really angry and might hurt her. Evelynn is relentless and will not leave the cat alone for a minute. Today after about an hour of tolerating being played with the cat hissed at her. I scooped her up right away and said never to play with a cat who is angry but she just laughed.
I need opinions, is this normal toddler behavior? If you have any advice on how to stop this it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading!