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4 year old not respecting 1 year old's space

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I feel like I'm always nagging these days.  Since she's been born my DS has been desperate to touch DD.  It feels like it's all day long.  I have always tried to practice unconditional parenting, but I find myself said "stop", "leave her alone" a lot.  Mostly though I say "what is she telling you?" as she wriggles around and tries to get him away from her.  But I say it in a disapproving voice and it's about 20 times a day.

 

What is he trying to do?  What way should I be handling it?

post #2 of 5

Hmm I think I might say something like, "I know it's frustrating to have a little sister but have her not old enough to play much yet. But if you were trying to get away from someone, I'd make sure you could, and I need to do the same for her. Don't keep after her when she's trying to get away from you." But I really think you're doing fine. Unconditional parenting is about not punishing or rewarding; it isn't about not telling someone to stop doing something or creating boundaries. I think with repetition, he'll get it eventually. But it might take 20 times a day for a while, consistantly, before he gets it.

post #3 of 5

He's not trying to do anything. He's just curious. :) He loves her and wants to interact with her. I'd frame it in a way so that it isn't personal. Something like, "Now isn't the best time to play with DD." And teach him about how babies learn and develop. "I know you want to help DD, but sometimes we need to let her figure things out for herself. This is how she learns." and turn that into a conversation about how you interacted with him when he was that age. 

 

I know it's not the same, but I have a 13 month old and a home-based preschool of 4 year olds and sometimes they need reminders about what is safe for babies, and how to respect every person's space, no matter their age. 

 

Another thing you can do with DS is sit with him while DD is occupied and tell him, "Let's watch your sister for a minute." and talk to him about what she is doing and what you interpret that to mean. If she makes a sound you can ask him, "What do you think she is feeling right now?" and make that a regular thing. Maybe once a week, or more if you can. This practice not only will help your DS develop a sense of his sister's need for space, but will also help build his emotional vocabulary and empathetic sense in general.

 

I think you may be interested in the book Roots of Empathy by Mary Gordon. 

 

Good luck.

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys.  Mamazee that's really reassuring.

 

I am definitely going to look up that book elefante.  It's a great idea to work on empathy.  There are two things that I find difficult

 

1. I feel really upset for him and think that he feels rejected

2. I feel really upset for her that she feels a lack of control

 

But I recognise that a lot of it is projection

post #5 of 5

My DD is a bit older (7 last week), but that's been a battle since DS was born 18 months ago. She just loves her baby brother so much and wants to interact with him all the time. DD being a little behind on picking up social cues has made it difficult. It's gotten a lot better, though. Helping her understand his body language has been very helpful. When he's fussing and/or struggling, I point it out to her and explain what it means. Like "DD, see how DS is pulling away from you right now? That means he wants you to let go," or "Listen to DS whining. That means he wants you to stop." After explaining what he's doing to tell her to stop, when it is appropriate, giving her something else she can do with him that he might like has helped a lot, too. After we spent some time with me "interpretting" his language for her, I started pointing out what he's doing and asking her what she thinks it means. Also, now that he's finally talking a little, I'm working with them on using the word "stop," and immediately stopping whatever it is they're doing when the other says it by playing a game with them. We do a silly dance, spin around, or that sort until someone shouts out "Stop!" (or "Dop!" if DS is saying it lol) and then we all freeze. Having a word that he can say that puts an immediate end to whatever someone is doing to him that he doesn't like is very empowering for him, and it's been very useful for DD when DS is doing things she doesn't like.

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