My 27 month old ds is so aggressive and can be so mean to other children. We will be out somewhere and he will call other kids dumb or stupid and hit them for no reason. I know this stems from the fact that his older sis (7.5 years old) is always bullying him. She regularly calls him "dumb baby" or "stupid baby" and hits or pinches him. Ofcourse, she always gets in trouble for this but it persists. It doesn't help that he is at that stage where he thinks everything is his. He regularly destroys her stuff or will jump on her and hit her. So then she hits him back (but harder). I feel like my little boy is so full of rage that he has to go and take it out on other kids. I try to talk to dd and explain to her that when she hits him back, she is only teaching him that hitting is the way to solve problems but she's 7 so it is a little hard for her to grasp. All she knows is that when he makes her mad, the best way to feel better is to hit him.
This aggressiveness is so embarrassing. Honestly, I have never seen a toddler like ds who is so quick to get upset and hit (and he hits hard). He did it yesterday to a 5 year old boy at the park. I ran over and said, "no we don't hit others". I asked the little boy if he was o.k and made ds sit on the bench for awhile before he could go back and play. Today was even worse. The kids were getting fussy at home so I took them to a Mcdonalds w/ a play area for a bit. We were there for about 30 min. and he seemed to be doing fine. I looked down to check something on my phone and then heard crying. He had hit a little girl (maybe 1.5) . Well, I'm really not proud of this but I ended up getting into a huge argument w/ this woman. I should have just apolgized and left but she said some things that I felt were insulting to me and ds but looking back I would have been pissed too if it was my dd that had just gotten hit in the face.
Honestly, I need to put an end to this behavior but I just don't know what to do. What are some strategies to help minimize a toddler's aggression? How do I get dd to stop hitting him when he is also hitting her/destroying her things?
I have been in your vicious circle. So help me I don't know which one was worse--the 8yo or the 3yo and they seriously fed each other.
Some things that helped us (hugely--take them fwiw):
* We actually put a baby gate on 8yo's bedroom door. I didn't want him to close the door (and lock it) to keep his sister out of his space. I wanted him to still have an open door, but maintain some kind of respect for his things that he really loved and was truly hurt when the 3yo went after them.
* I read a book called "Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control" that changed how we parent in a big way that made things change in the house. It's a short book. A significant point is that children only behave driven by one of two emotions: love or fear. The negatives are somewhere based in fear even if we can't immediately see it. Allay the fears.
* My kids, to some extent, were looking for attention, too. I found that if I could give each of them some dedicated one on one time, they were at least a little better. They were particularly sensitive to me getting on the computer. When I cut the computer out during the day (I would wait until dh came home and took over with the kids and then I would do it in the home office), it was WAY better.
* Sad as it sounds (and I'm not particularly proud of this) I engaged my 8yo in treating my 3yo differently by bribing him with the reality that behaving the way we needed him to would drive the 3yo insane. I got him to try it once. 3yo COMPLETELY knew how to push 8yo's buttons and 8yo didn't bite when taunted--which ended exactly as I told him it would. Getting him to stay on that track was rough, though. Now, we don't really have to bribe the 8yo with making the 3yo insane. There's enough overall improvement that we've been able to talk to him about how the 3yo feels and how we need to deal with her. It's not always easy--but man, it is WAY. WAY. better.
My 3yo got pretty vicious before I read the book. Like, "omg I'm going to need valium to be in the house with them for another minute". They seriously know what they're doing. It's simultaneously scary that they're so good at it and sad that they've gotten to trying to meet their needs in such a destructive manner.
Heather - Wife , Mommy & Health & Wellness Educator, Speaker & Consultant
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Thanks heatherdeg. I will check out that book. You're right. It is a vicious cycle and they both antagonize each other so I don't know how to deal with it. Unfortunately, we are in a small studio right now so dd doesn't really have her own space. This makes thing worse because dd can't retreat into her own room. Hopefully, things will get better once dd goes back to school. While I like having her home, I feel as if it's thrown off the routine that ds and I had. I had been considering homeschooling but don't think it would work under these circumstances. I would go nuts. Maybe in the future when we have a larger space and dd can have her own space.
We homeschool. And we are in relatively cramped quarters at the moment because dh also works from home and we have NO. PLACE for him to be doing so. Each kid has their own room, but the 3yo wants no part of her room--it's all about being in the 8yo's space. My 8yo has spent a lot of time in camp this summer and I'm finding that the time he spends in camp 1) encourages my 3yo to feel superior because she has me all to herself (and she's regularly reminding me during that time that "iss juss girls, mommy"); but simultaneously 2) makes her feel left out/lesser because she doesn't have "school" to go to (the concept of camp is lost on her--and her camp doesn't run the same weeks).
Hopefully you'll get them stabilized relatively quick. Mine DO. NOT. respond to my stress in a way that pushes them to back off and let mommy cool off--so it's been a formidable challenge.