3 year old mean to baby brother--pls help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 08-02-2011, 10:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi there-- my 3 yr old (38 months) has recently become more mean to his 7 month old brother. He is bullying him all day long and I can't seem to do the right thing to stop it. I've tried giving him lots of 'special' one on one time,cuddle time, and time to roughhouse with me and dh to feel powerful and get out feelings...but nothing seems to be working. It doesn't help that I am sleep deprived. Today I lost it...I was yelling and resorting to dragging him out of the room...it was really pushing my buttons. I feel helpless and horrible.
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#2 of 16 Old 08-09-2011, 05:51 PM
 
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greensad.gif. I'm having the same problem. Only, I'm staying with my cousin and it's her 1 year old my 3 year old son is acting out towards. Maybe someone out there has the answer! *fingers crossed* for both of us!! Hang in there momma!
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#3 of 16 Old 08-09-2011, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just came on to look for help again :). I'm at a loss for how to make this better... I'm reading "playful Parenting" and keep trying to lighten things up and play with my 3 year old but he still wants to be mean. Ideas?

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#4 of 16 Old 08-10-2011, 04:20 PM
 
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This is really common and can be dangerous. I think you may be attributing it to the wrong thing - he wants attention or isn't getting enough attention. Parents can put pressure on the older child to be the big brother and helper. They can talk about how much they love the baby and have them hold the baby. The older child may not like the baby, may not want to be the big boy, the helper, ect. They may not be able to verbalize this or show it. Think about how it would feel if your husband brought home a new wife that you had to love and help take care of. You are the older one and you have to share your stuff and be nice. He will spend some alone time with you and you should be happy with that. I know that is the extreme but your child has been the only child and had you to himself and it's hard.

 

Try letting him be the little kid still. Let him know he doesn't have to take care of the baby (or you) that that is your job and you will take care of him. You have enough love for him and the baby. If he wants on your lap while you are nursing let him climb on. Don't make him share. Back off on your expectations from him and increase your expectations on yourself. Don't rough house, worry about one and one time and cuddle time. Give him time when he wants. Meditate so you don't yell and those buttons may go away.

 

Don't leave him alone with the baby. Carry the baby in a sling so the baby is safe. The book Without Spanking or Spoiling by Elizabeth Crary is great. It changed my life when my oldest was a toddler.  


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#5 of 16 Old 08-10-2011, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for your suggestions foreverinbluejeans. I really like the part about lowering my expectations for him and not making him share. I definitely don't need to raise my expectations for myself, though-- they're already too high...if anything i need to lighten up on myself! (LOL).

 

I will also check out the book you recommended. I'm reading Playful Parenting right now and have put a lot of his ideas into action. One of those is the rough housing--which DS actually loves. It works really well for him and usually ends in cuddles. I wouldn't give that up. It helps so much and really gets us laughing.

 

Things are rough right now since DS2 is super gassy and up all night. The sleep deprivation is torture, and my only escape for meditation is walking back and forth with the baby trying to get him to sleep!

 

They're going to be sharing a room and I do wonder how to get DS1 used that idea. He says that he's excited about it, but at other times I know that he's not because he closes the bedroom door when the baby is crawling down the hall and gets really protective over his stuff (of course, understandably, I'm just wondering how to help him through that transition when the time comes).

Thanks again--

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#6 of 16 Old 08-11-2011, 07:22 PM
 
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With the sharing a room thing, we added a bed for DD2 way before we intended on her SLEEPING in the room so DD1 would get use to the idea that the room isn't "hers" its "theirs". Dh and I stopped refering to the room as "hers" instead it became the "girls room". It helped because she didn't consider the room hers it was theirs. She was really excited about her sister sleeping in their room when the time came.

 

As for the children's problems couple of things I did.

The children (I have 3) have special toys they aren't required to share. For DD1 its her Minnie Mouse DH got her, DD2 its her favorite stuffed monkey and DS has a giraffe it was the first thing he reached for. They don't have to share them with anyone. If we are over at someone else's house it goes in my purse, if someone comes over it goes on their bed but day to day it stays with them. They seemed to have adapted to having the special toy and after a bit of aid from me they stopped taking the other person's special toy.

I do require that if one child hits they have to sit until I can tell they are cooled down (no time requirement but at least a minute since I don't think anyone can go from really mad to calm in under a minute). They sit on a couch/chair/floor where they can see me and I can see them but they aren't interacted with. I use to talk to them or be with them but my second has issues with lashing out and after getting bruised ribs from her I just make sure Im there but not within touching distance.

The books "Hands are not for hitting" "feet are not for kicking" and theres a few more are really good. My oldest loves books and it really brought home the point with her that she shouldn't hit/kick people.

If the girls are doing something I know they would get upset if the baby messed up (example building a castle, painting/coloring a picture etc) then they do it either at their train table or the kitchen table. If they are on the floor and the baby messes up what they are doing they can't complain.

Make sure that you don't try to make your older one "help" with the baby unless they want to. My oldest loves helping and will ask to, my middle not so much. So if they want to help they can, if they don't they don't.

Instead of concentrating on the behavior try to find the root of the problem. WHY is he being a bully? Have you tried asking him? My middle is 2 1/2 and most of the time she can tell me why shes mad. Its easier to treat the root then try to prevent the symptoms. Also festering problems can cause more problems with children.


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#7 of 16 Old 08-12-2011, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Okimom. I have added the bed to the room, so he is getting used to the idea. I'll try the 'special toy' idea. I have been letting him 'not share', but I think if I explicitly explain that the special toy is his only, then it will make more sense to him.

 

I have been doing the same as you with DS1 and block building, etc. at tables-- warning him that if it's on the ground, it's going to get knocked over...but lately i am feeling bad about that-- like he should be able to have somewhere safe (where I can still see him). I'm thinking of getting some child gates to block off a space in the front hall or something similar. I can't hold the baby in a sling all of the time because he is a super active baby (and my back is wrecked)! He was crawling and pulling himself up at 6 months. He just wants to go, go, go! (and DESTROY all of DS1's creations).

 

I have asked him "why?" ...he always says, "I don't know". I ask, "are you mad at Bodhi?" he'll say 'yes.' but no more than that. We've talked about jealousy, etc. Stories work well with him, so I could try more of those...

 

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#8 of 16 Old 08-12-2011, 02:25 PM
 
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I ended up making a "peaceful place" for my son to go when he needs a moment. This usually nips any problem before something like not sharing or pushing happens. I notice the signs and suggest he go there for a moment. He has "peaceful toys" (quiet one person sort of items) and a sound machine that he can control himself. He doesn't have to share any of the toys in that room, nor does he have to share that space. It's just a little corner in the guest room with the toys in a nightstand drawer. So far, so good! No amount of one on one time or attention was helping for us.
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#9 of 16 Old 08-16-2011, 08:58 AM
 
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It is possible for you to consider a "sidecar" crib set-up for a while? (That's when you remove one side of the crib and keep it pushed up against your own bed so that your baby is sleeping next to you). It seems that this would give your older child more time to accept sharing so much of what has been just his and would also create a comforting atmosphere for your baby to get and stay to sleep at night.

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#10 of 16 Old 08-16-2011, 09:26 AM
 
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You are obviously a very thoughtful mother but I think that trying to have a conversation such as, "Why are you hitting" with a young child is an intellectual way of trying to handle a situation, but not the best way for someone so young. Just like when a young child asks "Why is the sky blue", they really don't want (or need) the factual scientific information, they are much more satisfied with a simple answer such as, "Because that is how god made it". Wanting your child to take part in fixing his own situation seems to be putting responsibility onto him, but I think that guidance from adults is what is most comforting and most successful with a young child.

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#11 of 16 Old 08-16-2011, 10:38 AM
 
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This is a hard season for all of you...  Hang in there.  My DS struggled with learning to accept his brother, and the only thing I can say is that you're probably doing all the right stuff, it's just a long process.  If he's greiving the loss of his exclusive status, and he's just angry about it, he can't really skip this and get to the acceptance part any faster.  Don't beat yourself up.  Just try to make it through one day, even one hour, at a time.  I had one that crawled at 6 months, and that alone, can be crazy-making, especially with the sleep deprivation.

 

I found that it helped us for me to be honest when I was frustrated with my second son's needs.  I would say things like, "It's hard when the baby cries and we/I don't know what to do, isn't it?  or "I get frustrated with him wrecking my stuff, too."  Or "He'll learn, but it's tough right now, isn't it?"  I think it made it safe for him to voice his feelings, because I already had.

 

Also, I found that tiny little things could make a difference.  Like you mentioned getting gates or something.  If it works for this season, I say, use it. It's probably cheaper/easier to put big brother in a room with a monitor (if you feel you need it) and let him close the door.  We also had the, "if you work where he can get it, you know what's going to happen" rule.

 

I'm not a huge fan of the "Feet are not for kicking" book, so we went a different route.  We allowed him to punch and kick his mattress or a punching bag, because it got all that energy out faster.  Then he could count to twenty until he was ready to get down.

 

Growing up is hard.  If there are some new, special things that he gets to do, "Just because he's so big now," maybe that can help.  Even just choosing where people sit at the table, or going to a movie, or which sheets to put on the bed, or anything, if it's presented as an upside to growing up.

 

Later, we had to deal with the younger one hitting the older one, and the first had learned to love the second so much that he would just take it, and we had to teach him how to stop his brother!  Ha!  I'm sure they'll always have some tension, but they love each other so much, and now, the older one can't remember what life was like before the younger came along.

 

You're right to think about this, and I pray you the best as you cope!

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#12 of 16 Old 08-16-2011, 12:40 PM
 
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DS1 starting to act up when DS2 turns 7 months sounds very much in line.  Older siblings start to feel threatened when the younger baby starts hitting milestones, like sitting up, etc. which often starts at 6 mos.  Thing is, after 6 mos, little one will be hitting milestones regularly after that, so it's best to nip the behavior in the bud now (like you've been trying to do). 

 

In our house, my rule is that if I wouldn't allow it at the playground, then I won't allow it at home.  I.e. I wouldn't accept DD1 hitting/kicking/etc. another child at a playground, so why would I allow it to a sibling?  So I don't make it about not hitting the sibling, but more about "we don't hit others, if you're mad or sad, we express it other ways" and I try to give her methods for expressing her frustration.  Like hitting a pillow, or talking to the offender, or coming to me, etc.  When she has lashed out, I have tried a few different methods of dealing with it, and the one we've had the most luck with (and maybe she's just development ready for?) is a Love & Logic approach.  Without much emotion in my voice (which is HARD!) I remove her from the situation and say "too bad you decided to hit your sister instead of talking to her/getting me/hitting a pillow, etc., That's too bad.  I guess you'll have to spend some time in your room until you're sweet again.  Then we can see if you're safe to play with then."  And I calmly take her to her room.  We've had very few instances of agression since.

 

Things to be watchful for though - if you know your oldest is in a bad mood, don't let them play in the same area or else you're just setting him up for trouble.  Also, it can be helpful to explain to your oldest that babies don't know how to tell you they're upset or mad at you, so they'll hit you, but it's not okay to hit a baby back.  It can be tricky to expect a young child to refrain from hitting a baby when the baby's whacking away at them (because they want that toy, etc.).  Until your youngest is old enough to express themselves well, you'll have to help be their voice.  I will say that in our household, it seemed that the prevalence of aggression was definitely tied to mood.  If DD1 was in a bad mood, it was better to keep baby and cat away.

 

We also blocked off an area (our dining room) for a while with a gate and called it the Play Room and told DD1 that she could have in there the toys that would be dangerous to have around baby (tiny pieces, etc.).  We showed her how to work the gate and she seemed to like the idea that she had a place that was "hers" and that she was a big girl to be able to work the gate.

 

Lastly, make sure your oldest is getting enough sleep.  It's hard to be on your best behavior when you're feeling grouchy due to too little sleep.  And I would not introduce the baby into the boy's room until you're sure that baby is safe around his older brother.  But I agree with the other poster that it's a good idea to start calling it the Boy's room now and have the crib in there so he gets used to it.  Whenever DD1 complained about sharing a room (we've since pulled baby into her own room to help her with sleep issues), I simply mentioned that I shared a room with daddy, and I even had to share my bed with him, so it shouldn't seem unusual for us to expect her to share a room with her sister either.

 

Good luck!

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#13 of 16 Old 08-16-2011, 03:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow! thanks so much for all of the good advice--

MrsVeggieMom: I set up a 'peaceful place' and so far, he loves it!

socalcde: yes, the baby has been in our bed and in a 'sidecar' co-sleeper for the past 8 months., but he's standing up so the little crib doesn't work anymore! we are going to temporarily move the big crib into a spare room until the baby starts sleeping better...so the actual room sharing won't be for a while. And I agree, DS1 is def. not ready to verbalize 'why' he hits his brother! ..it is my own analytical mind that wants to know :)


 

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Originally Posted by snapladylisa View Post

This is a hard season for all of you...  Hang in there.  My DS struggled with learning to accept his brother, and the only thing I can say is that you're probably doing all the right stuff, it's just a long process.  If he's greiving the loss of his exclusive status, and he's just angry about it, he can't really skip this and get to the acceptance part any faster.  Don't beat yourself up.  Just try to make it through one day, even one hour, at a time.  I had one that crawled at 6 months, and that alone, can be crazy-making, especially with the sleep deprivation.

 

I found that it helped us for me to be honest when I was frustrated with my second son's needs.  I would say things like, "It's hard when the baby cries and we/I don't know what to do, isn't it?  or "I get frustrated with him wrecking my stuff, too."  Or "He'll learn, but it's tough right now, isn't it?"  I think it made it safe for him to voice his feelings, because I already had.

 

Also, I found that tiny little things could make a difference.  Like you mentioned getting gates or something.  If it works for this season, I say, use it. It's probably cheaper/easier to put big brother in a room with a monitor (if you feel you need it) and let him close the door.  We also had the, "if you work where he can get it, you know what's going to happen" rule.

 

I'm not a huge fan of the "Feet are not for kicking" book, so we went a different route.  We allowed him to punch and kick his mattress or a punching bag, because it got all that energy out faster.  Then he could count to twenty until he was ready to get down.

 

Growing up is hard.  If there are some new, special things that he gets to do, "Just because he's so big now," maybe that can help.  Even just choosing where people sit at the table, or going to a movie, or which sheets to put on the bed, or anything, if it's presented as an upside to growing up.

 

Later, we had to deal with the younger one hitting the older one, and the first had learned to love the second so much that he would just take it, and we had to teach him how to stop his brother!  Ha!  I'm sure they'll always have some tension, but they love each other so much, and now, the older one can't remember what life was like before the younger came along.

 

You're right to think about this, and I pray you the best as you cope!


Thanks snapladylisa for your kind words. It is encouraging to hear that your boys love each other so much now! I particularly love the advice about explicitly letting him know that there are new special things he can do now 'because he's big'....and I do notice that it helps when I verbalize how DS1 is feeling ("I don't like it either when he knocks my things down...he'll learn", etc) . I need to remember to do that more often.

 

rupunzlkim: i think that is my biggest problem ---not showing emotion in my voice when I remove him from the situation. I need to work on that too. He doesn't seem ready to pick the other options before he lashes out---he is still soooo impulsive, but I'll keep trying that one too, because once in a while he manages to do it. DS1 gets frustrated really easily and I am always trying to give him ideas on how to express that frustration.

 

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#14 of 16 Old 08-17-2011, 09:13 PM
 
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@ rupunzlkim huge love & logic fan here!! "uh oh" haha
@Colleen yay! So happy he's diggin' the peaceful place!
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#15 of 16 Old 08-18-2011, 12:37 PM
 
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I very highly recommend a book called "Siblings Without Rivalry". Life changing! The most important thing is to not allow one of your children feel like the aggressor and the other like a victim. Those complexes become life-long. Good luck!


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#16 of 16 Old 08-22-2011, 07:25 AM
 
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I also reccomend Siblings Without Rivalry, as the above poster did.

Some highlights: Put their feelings into words, don't try to minimize their feelings (ie if DS1 says, "I hate the baby!" don't say, "no you don't" - you can say something like, "you sound MAD!")... another tip they give is to bring the older child a doll and say, "Show me on the doll how you feel!"... that way DS2 is safe, they have a safe way to vent their feelings, etc. It's hardest for the parents to watch though!

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