My guy has been horrible to live with since the baby was 2 months old. Everyone said it's a 3 year old thing. Assaults on the baby, screaming, tantruming, non-compliant. I have posted so many times on the gentle discipline board, talked to everyone I know that has 3, 4 and 5 year olds. Read books ranging from "Your 3 year old, Friend or Enemy" to "Raising your spirited child." I also made several calls to the Parent Connection over the last several months. Nothing was helping and I was living in fear of what my 3 year old would do next.
And I finally found the solution. My son has turned back into the gentle soul he was before the baby was born. He is polite, compliant, and, most importantly, he has stopped assaulting the baby. (I almost hate to say all this because I fear it will be undone.)
Two main suggestions and one minor third suggestion I got from the Parent Connection have worked wonders.
1. When he attacks the baby, I pick her up, say to my guy, "When you can play gentle with the baby, let me know and you can play together again." I don't get frustrated, I don't pull him off her. I am calm and removing HER, not HIM from the situation. Sometimes I voice for her, "So you're afraid when your brother hurts you."
At first his response was to immediately scream, "I'll be gentle now." At which I'd set her down and he would be gentle. In time he stopped saying that and I even stopped saying anything to him, I'd just pick her up. Though sometimes I would voice for her, "Your arm hurts where it got pulled."
2. I stopped telling him what he was doing wrong. No more, "Don't jump on the couch," "Leave the dog alone," "No throwing balls in the house." I tried to not do that for 48 hours. The woman said I should also ramp up the positive reinforcements, "Wow, you just went potty all by yourself," "Thank you for helping your sister stand up," "What a generous boy for sharing your yogurt." I've always done a lot of positives so that wasn't so hard. Anyways, I tried no negatives for 48 hours. What I found is his behavior didn't change. He was no worse without me pointing out everything he did wrong. So why was I constantly telling him what he was doing wrong? I went a couple more days like that and his behavior started getting better. We've been doing this for about 2 weeks and it's like I have a different child. It's unbelievable.
3. I started reading books about sibling rivalry.
He also likes:http://www.amazon.com/Darcy-Gran-Don...1868457&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/Lapsnatcher-Br...1868484&sr=1-1
I've told him any time he wants time away from the baby, all he has to do is ask and I will move her. I've honored this every time and it's helped. He doesn't ask that often, but I figure better he feels supported by me than he hits/pinches/pushes her.
The theory behind the first two steps is that kids ache for attention. Whether it's true or not, if they can believe they won't get it for positive reasons, they will do what they need to in order to get the attention. If that means misbehaving, they will misbehave to get negative attention.
Kids still need guidance so when I absolutely have to say something, I will tell him what to do and then will often leave the room. So when we were at my parents and he was jumping from couch to chair, I said, "The rule is chairs are for sitting on," and I left the room.
It's REALLY hard to not constantly tell your child what they are doing wrong. Yet once I got out of that cycle, he stopped doing wrong stuff. I asked the woman at the Parent Connection how long it would take to see a difference. She said it depends on how consistent I am on making this change. He has to come to believe that I will not give him attention for misbehaving.
Hope this helps anyone else struggling with a non-compliant, difficult, possibly aggressive 3 (or other age) year old.