New to gentle discipline, how to handle toddler resentment of baby? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 01-11-2006, 12:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi. I'll try to make a long story as short as I can. I have a 2 yr old (he'll be three in two months) and a six month old. I've known that I wouldn't spank since I got pregnant with him, but just discovered that I wouldn't do time outs shortly before the baby was born. I know that I want gentle discipline, but I'm fairly clueless as to how it actually works. I have made some big mistakes along the way that came from being pregnant and sick, or sometimes just plain frazzled.

I've yelled more times than I care to recall, and we've done time outs a handful of times (they really just make things worse). I'm loathe to admit that there have been a few times when I've grabbed him roughly by the arm and just been not so gentle in general. I came from a VERY punitive background, and it really is hard for me to be a decent mom somedays because my instincts are skewed. This is just background to explain where we are at. We've been much less stressed, and therefore much better parents these last few months, but I still feel like ds still has some healing to do.

So here's my problem. Lately ds has been hitting/kicking/pushing the baby. Probably once every few days, sometimes once a day, today three times because he's sick. I try to keep an eagle eye on them both, but he's fast and manages to hit her while I'm holding her. Most of the time he is very loving towards her. They both nurse at naptime together and he holds her hand. It's clear that he loves her, but has some understandable resentment that she takes up so much of my time.

So first we responded to the hitting by getting mad (the first time was when she was three months he stomped on her stomach, I was very panicky). Then we responded with time out. It was clear that that was doing more damage. Then I read something about how much a child must really be hurting inside to act like that and it clicked. I've been trying to remove the baby and comfort her and then hug ds and talk about what we can do when we are mad, but I'm not sure it's helping. He hits her and then runs to me to nurse, which makes me think that maybe he is hitting her for the attention he gets after.

I'm at a loss here. I know that it is hard for him to be a big brother sometimes, but I also want to protect the baby. I worry that him hitting her when she is so tiny might damage her subconciously for life. What's the gentle discipline answer?
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#2 of 5 Old 01-11-2006, 01:22 AM
 
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Here are some links to start. This is a weekly discussion. You can search this forum only also in the top right hand corner of the menu links.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...hlight=hitting

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...hlight=hitting

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...highlight=bear

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...hlight=yelling

HTH, Pat

I have a blog.
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#3 of 5 Old 01-11-2006, 03:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks scubamama. There is soooo much I need to learn about GD. Being a parent is so much work. I always feel like by the time my kids are grown up I'll be good at it!
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#4 of 5 Old 01-11-2006, 03:52 AM
 
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My kids are very close in age to yours, and we've been right there with you, though now it's much, much better. The worst we get is a little push here and there, and lots of screaming, but he thinks that's pretty funny, so I don't care.

I think you're right on with the prevention thing. When the hitting was bad, I just didn't let them get very close to each other. I was more than an eagle eye, it was like I was preventing the spread of contagious disease. It was a pain in the butt, but it did seem to break the cycle. Other things we did for prevention, but I'm not sure what worked:

-After the baby went down for his nap, I got down on the floor for 20-30 minutes of very intense play w/dd.

-Enlisted dd's help w/ds, handing him a toy, finding the bib, helping change him, wash his hands in the tub, etc.

-Taught dd lots of games to play with ds, I think this encouraged positive feelings between them.

And when she did hit, my reaction was like yours. First we tried time out, maybe five times. That was a failure. A few times I lost my temper, a few times I roughly hauled her in and sat her on her bed. That all sucked, of course, and I think what worked the best was this. I get right down next to her and put my hand on her shoulder and say, in my most serious, firmest, quietest voice, "I can see that you are frustrated with your brother, but you may not hit your brother. It is not acceptable to hit him, it hurts him."

Then I attend to him. Then when everyone's calmed down, we troubleshoot the incident and find a solution. Which is usually, "We'll have to keep your toys up where he can't reach them."

Mommy to kids

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#5 of 5 Old 01-11-2006, 04:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natensarah
Then I attend to him. Then when everyone's calmed down, we troubleshoot the incident and find a solution. Which is usually, "We'll have to keep your toys up where he can't reach them."

I really like that whole post, but this part is what gets me. The hitting is just random. He'll hit her when she's playing quietly, he'll hit her when she's nursing, he'll hit her when I'm changing her. The poor baby!

I think part of our problem is tandem nursing. He wants to nurse all the time, and I have to say no a lot because I have to take care of the baby, or because he just nursed five minutes ago, or because my boobs are just so tired. It's also my salvation though because it allows us to connect and he still gets to be the baby when he needs to be. That's a subject for a different forum, though!

After reading the links that scubamom posted, I realize that I haven't really been validating his emotions. I've told him that I know it's hard to be a brother, but I think I really need to validate that he doesn't want a sister sometimes. My focusing on how much we all love the baby in an attempt to get him to be more loving towards her has probably been the wrong approach.

What sort of games did you teach them?

I'm glad that someone else has been there!
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