they wont stop fighting and hitting each other!!!!!!!! they are 3yo and 4yo - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 01-15-2011, 06:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello, it seems I am in need of calling super nanny or someone who really knows what they are doing... perhaps the problem is that I live with my mother and she tends to contredict what I say.... Anyways so my 4yo dd and my 3yo ds are always fighting with each other and hitting each other. They get along great about 50% of the time. the other 50% they are trying to kill each other. And my daughter has this attitude that seems to have come out of nowhere! if you want to teach your kids how to talk back she's an expert... I swear I've tried everything to stop this behavior, punishments taking away desserts, time outs, making her do chores, I even bopped her mouth. I talk to her and tell her she sin't allowed to act that way. Oh adn when you tell her no to anything she goes crazy. I don't give in though I just let her cry it out or put her in her room and let her come down once shes calmed down but most of that time that only makes her anger worse.... a 4yo with an anger problem. Makes me feel like the worst mother alive! but she is so super sweet and loving and kind when she isn't acting that way. Especially when I have her "help" me wish something. She is a wonderful child when we go to sunday school. Everytime she is around other kids she is great and acts very mothering and nurting to the other kids. I think maybe thats the poblem here at the house because she takes it from being here play with this toy or lets do this to being way too bossy here at the house.... I just feel completly lost with how she acts. She is being absolutely wonderful this morning (at least until I make her sit down to have some actual breakfast and not any of that trix sugar fille cereal my mother likes to buy for some reason).

 

When I do put her in time out or let her cry in her room and my mother is home she always goes to her and give her hugs etc. instead of just leaving her alone like i've asked. Is that good or bad? I feel its bad and frustrates me beyond words. When I try to talk to my mom about she it she tells me that its not good for her to cry that hard, she'll make her self sick, or she just need things explained to her. She is so condescending the way she says those things to me though as if she's such a better parent than me. I mean I know she's been there before and all but man i mean give me SOME credit here. I am not doing EVERYTHING wrong.

 

I just want someone on my side when it comes to parenting. I want someone to back me up. I hate this whole single parenting thing. I hate it! I hate my exhusband for making me a single parent... I cant' stand it. Im lost....

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#2 of 17 Old 01-15-2011, 07:06 PM
 
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As a mom to a 6 year old and 3 year old who also fight/hit/shove/punch/push, I feel your pain.  It's the same thing:  50% of the time they love each other, and the other 50% they're crabbing and hitting.

 

I have two strategies to suggest:

 

1.  A ticket system.  Explain to your kids, in a calm moment, that they are hitting each other often, that this is against your rules, and that you will not tolerate it.  Then, tell them that they start each day with five tickets.  Place tickets with numbers one through five on the fridge (maybe use different colors for each).  When one bops the other, remove a ticket.  Don't threaten that you will remove it, just do it and calmly say, "You've lost a ticket."  When all the tickets are gone, the child with no tickets spends an hour in his/her room.  Subsequent episodes result in the same penalty.  You might also impose an early bedtime under the theory that hitting when they know it's wrong must mean that he/she is too tired to act right.

 

2.  Cheering good behavior...literally.  I made up this really dumb cheer for my boys when I caught one of them doing something nice for the other - for example, sharing, offering a turn on a toy, etc.  I felt really stupid doing it, but they now look for opportunities to be nice to each other.  And, they ask for the cheer.  It's kind of embarrassing having to do this in public places, but I like the result. 

 

As for your 4 y.o. - I'd start with addressing the hitting and when that's under control, you could switch the ticket system for acting out.  Look for times when she has been stellar and point that out to her, in a low-key way that lets her know you were proud of her.  

 

Finally, your mom.  You're in a tough spot, and you need to have a thick skin to do what you need to do and not let her allow you to think you're not doing the right thing.  I'd explain to DD that moms and grandmas operate under different rules.  Moms have the important job of teaching their children how to be good citizens, whereas grandmas don't.  So, her grandma is going to be loving, and you're going to be the mean one.  (I often tell my boys that I'm supposed to be mean because I'm their mom.  I'm not really mean, but it sets their expectations so low that I don't ever feel bad when I need to address poor behavior.)  I think that way, it'll minimize any mixed messages your mom might be sending.  And, it gives your mom the freedom to be a grandma and not a parent.

 

Good luck.  This is a rough age.  You're doing great; hang in there.  

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#3 of 17 Old 01-15-2011, 09:16 PM
 
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Read Positive Discipline for Preschoolers.

 

Never hit your children. Ever. They're hitting each other because that's what you do to them. If you want them to stop something, you "bopped her mouth".  So naturally, if one of them wants the other to stop something, they're going to "bop her mouth."  


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#4 of 17 Old 01-15-2011, 11:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Courtney-Ostaff View Post
. They're hitting each other because that's what you do to them. If you want them to stop something, you "bopped her mouth".  So naturally, if one of them wants the other to stop something, they're going to "bop her mouth."  



I can't say I agree with this. Kids hit each other. Full stop. My kids smacked each other LONG before I ever lost it and swatted a backside (no flames, I don't believe in spanking but neither do I believe in perpetuating guilt).

 


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#5 of 17 Old 01-16-2011, 01:16 AM
 
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yeah my ds came out swingin' so i don't think it was because he saw it around him headscratch.gif honestly his first instinct is to hit.


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#6 of 17 Old 01-16-2011, 09:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Courtney-Ostaff View Post
. They're hitting each other because that's what you do to them. If you want them to stop something, you "bopped her mouth".  So naturally, if one of them wants the other to stop something, they're going to "bop her mouth."  



I can't say I agree with this. Kids hit each other. Full stop. My kids smacked each other LONG before I ever lost it and swatted a backside (no flames, I don't believe in spanking but neither do I believe in perpetuating guilt).

 



Yeah, I'm a pretty dedicated non-smacker, but my kids can whack each other like Frasier-Ali.  I don't think hitting is the cause; I don't think it's the best strategy, however.  I do think it can be a challenge to come up with other strategies and that should be our focus here. 

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#7 of 17 Old 01-16-2011, 12:23 PM
 
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OP, here at MDC you won't find anyone advocating hitting (spanking/smacking/bopping... however you want to term it).  I say take that discipline "tool" out of your toolbelt, learn from past mistakes, and banish any feelings of guilt.  As the pp said, the focus now should be on finding new (more effective, less problematic) discipline tools.

 

It seems like there are two issues at play here.  One is finding effective ways of teaching your children to express themselves (their frustrations, anger etc) appropriately.  The other is dealing with parenting conflicts with your mom.

 

I think you need to have a frank conversation with your mom.  YOU are the parent.  You need to state in no uncertain terms that you want advice from her ONLY when you've asked for it.  And she needs to leave the disciplining to you.  It is unacceptable for her to step in (without being asked!) when you are disciplining your kids.  Yes, she's BTDT, and might even have some great parenting insights.... BUT it is not at all ok for her to step in, override your decisions and offer unwanted, unsolicited advice.  You could even say to her (if it's true) that you'd like to hear her thoughts on parenting/discipline/etc - you're sure she has a lot of great advice since she's BTDT and she did a good job raising you - but when she oversteps her bounds then you just shut off.  Anything positive that she might otherwise have gotten across is going to be lost in your feelings of frustration, feeling like you're being called a bad mother, etc.  Maybe you could come to an agreement that she does not step during times when you're disciplining (unless asked), but in a calm moment (not in "the moment") she can bring up conversations about parenting techniques... BUT she needs to let it drop immediately if you ask her to.

 

As for your kids.... your spirited dd.  Well, at the very least, FWIW, I promise you that these are very age-appropriate behaviours.  Three year olds and four year olds are still just beginning their journey of learning the impulse control to not act out with hitting (etc) when they're mad or frustrated.  And four, in particular, is a very trying age.  The attitude and back-talking that you described is very very common among kids that age.  The good news is that this will get better as they get older (I promise!).  In the meantime you need to find some tools to help them learn that impulse control.

 

A few ideas off the top of my head:

- look at outside triggers.  There are lots of things that can contribute to people getting in a bad mood, and if you are aware of them sometimes you can head off bad behaviours at the pass.  I know with my kids when they're hungry or tired then it's game over.  Sugar too makes them first crazy hyper, and then shortly after they get super grumpy.  I've seen other posters here mention sensitivities to food dyes as a major trigger, or perhaps certain foods (gluten? dairy?).  You'll have to do a little thinking and observing and see if there's anything like that that you can pinpoint and anticipate (ex. always bringing along a small snack in case you see the beginning grumpy signs of hunger sneaking in).

- make sure their "cups are full".  Especially having two little kids so close together it's hard to make sure everyone's getting a lot of individual attention.  Sometimes "acting out" is really a way of getting attention (even if it's negative).  The idea is that if you can find a way to give enough (whatever that means for your kiddo!) undivided attention *before*, then you might be able to prevent the acting out *later*.  I know - easier said than done.  I fail on this one a lot!

- give your 4yo words that ARE ok to use.  So if she says something in a whiny/sassy/whatever way, you can tell her the acceptable way of saying/asking and then ask her to repeat it back.  Ex. 4yo (in whiny voice):  "I don't want broccoli.  I hate broccoli.  Broccoli is DISGUSTING!".  You:  "Please speak nicely.  You can say: 'No thank you.  I don't care for broccoli".  Her:  "No thank you.  I don't care for broccoli".  Then repeat, repeat, repeat.  It takes a lot of repeating for (most) kids to learn how to edit themselves.  Be prepared that it will take some time and work for this to sink in.

- give your kids tool to use with each other.  Instead of just "no hitting!" tell them what they CAN do.  I tell my kids that if their sibling does something that's bugging them they should ask politely for the other kid to stop, and if that doesn't work they should come get a grown-up to help resolve things.  Resorting to hitting/yelling/throwing is not ok.  This too will take lots and lots of repeating before it sinks in.

- some people have had success with sticker charts.  The idea is to reward good behaviour.  Celebrate every tiny victory.  Every time you catch one of your kids almost about to hit, but then they stop themselves, they get a sticker.  Every time they ask for something more politely than usual (not even perfectly) give them a sticker.  Start small.  It is a long road to learn socially acceptable behaviours.  Reward each teeny tiny step along the way.  *disclaimer* a lot of mamas here at MDC don't believe in using rewards as a behaviour modification tool.  I'm not that into it myself (though have known to offer bribes for getting through unpleasant experiences like dentist visits).  But I know families that have used sticker charts with success and are very happy to have that "tool" in their belt, so I thought I'd offer up the idea to you.

 

I could brainstorm more ideas but that'll have to be it for now as I need to go do a little "sibling management" myself!

 

Good luck mama!


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#8 of 17 Old 01-16-2011, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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piano jazzgir -"OP, here at MDC you won't find anyone advocating hitting (spanking/smacking/bopping... however you want to term it).  I say take that discipline "tool" out of your toolbelt, learn from past mistakes, and banish any feelings of guilt.  As the pp said, the focus now should be on finding new (more effective, less problematic) discipline tools.

- some people have had success with sticker charts.  The idea is to reward good behaviour.  Celebrate every tiny victory.  Every time you catch one of your kids almost about to hit, but then they stop themselves, they get a sticker.  Every time they ask for something more politely than usual (not even perfectly) give them a sticker.  Start small.  It is a long road to learn socially acceptable behaviours.  Reward each teeny tiny step along the way.  *disclaimer* a lot of mamas here at MDC don't believe in using rewards as a behaviour modification tool.  I'm not that into it myself (though have known to offer bribes for getting through unpleasant experiences like dentist visits).  But I know families that have used sticker charts with success and are very happy to have that "tool" in their belt, so I thought I'd offer up the idea to you."

 And the asking politely thing we do that… it’s a tough journey perhaps it hasn’t sunken in very well yet. But the broccoli example you used I absolutely loved because my kids actually LOVE and ask for  MORE of their vegitables.

 

 

I will make a note of all you have said.. I always said that when I was a parent that I would never hit or spank... I have just gotten to a level of frustration where I don't see anything else working and I feel that maybe I'm being too nice and what my parents did worked with me so maybe it will work on them. It's not working and I don't want to do it any more and I wont. Im going to do my best to change and find better "tools" I love the tickets and the sticker chart... Start first thing tomorrow going down to walmart and buying a few supplies for these projects.  I think that one other issue that I have become so overwhelmed with school and house work (even though my mom and step dad live here I am the only one to vaccum take trash out do dishes laundry etc) and it's hard for me to find time to do little projects with them etc. and I really have no social life so its not as if i am giving what little free time I have to everyone else besides them. I do have a bf but when he comes over he helps with dinner etc we play games have a nice evening put the kids to sleep then we have about an hour of us time before I need to get to sleep inorder to be able to funchtion with the kids and school the next day. the kids also do not go to day care or antyhing. we have begun to go to a new church so they are going to sunday school. they behave like angles and are both wonderful to the other children but just not each other.... ? go figure... is that normal? for kids to be so mean at home but wonderful around other children?  I really want to thank everyone for their wonderful advice. I feel like being only 24 with a 4 and 3 yro while i go to school is just  beyond me as if maybe I'm too young for this job....? I don't know. But I love my children they are the greatest blessing anyone could ever ask for and I just pray to God to give me strength, knowledge understanding and patience to be a better mother.

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#9 of 17 Old 01-16-2011, 02:00 PM
 
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I've used a version of the tickets that a pp suggested with my dds.  My twins are 5 yo and a still a work in progress when it comes to their reactions when unhappy with one another but things are in a pretty good place right now.  For us, it seemed to help to have and incentive not to lash out so I started giving them 5 tickets in the morning.  Each time they hit, pinched, grabbed, pushed.... their sister or used unkind words they had to give me a ticket.  At the end of the day they could redeem the tickets they had left for Earthballs -- wrapped chocolate pieces the size of a small gumball (yes, I know, food incentives bad,... but they have a pretty healthy relationship with food and it's so seldom used as incentive that I'm okay with it for this).  Prior to trying this we had lots of talks about hitting and aggressive behavior and discussed other ways to solve disagreements almost exactly as pps have suggested and continued to do this through the bribery period.  Also, if they used a positive mehod of solving a dispute, they could earn and extra ticket.  It only took a few days for the violence to decrease dramatically and it didn't resume once the "program" was ended.  For us I think dds had fallen into the habit of aggressive dispute resolution and needed a strong incentive to break that habit.  My dds are older though -- 3 might be a bit young for such and approach.

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#10 of 17 Old 01-16-2011, 02:04 PM
 
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We were posting at the same time, but in answer to your question -- my twins are in the same class at school and the teacher tells me they are the gentlest best dispute resolvers in the class whether it is between the two of them or them and someone else.  Yes, go figure.

 

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 we have begun to go to a new church so they are going to sunday school. they behave like angles and are both wonderful to the other children but just not each other.... ? go figure... is that normal? for kids to be so mean at home but wonderful around other children?

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#11 of 17 Old 01-17-2011, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We were posting at the same time, but in answer to your question -- my twins are in the same class at school and the teacher tells me they are the gentlest best dispute resolvers in the class whether it is between the two of them or them and someone else.  Yes, go figure.

 

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 we have begun to go to a new church so they are going to sunday school. they behave like angles and are both wonderful to the other children but just not each other.... ? go figure... is that normal? for kids to be so mean at home but wonderful around other children?



Does this mean that we aren't handeling things as well as the teacher or because of the mere fact that they are around OTHER children and a DIFFERENT adult that they feel the need and have the social "incentive" to behave in a better manner than at home where they are comfortable with their parents and not too worried about the consequences?

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#12 of 17 Old 01-17-2011, 11:43 PM
 
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My kids almost always behave better in polite company - lots of kids are quick to pick up on social convention unless they have a good reason not to. 

 

I know you've had a lot of recommendation, but can I make one more? Gordon Neufeld's Hold On To Your Kids. It's not a system - just a lot of good info to stick in your head about parenting and relationships with your kids.


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#13 of 17 Old 01-18-2011, 04:41 PM
 
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For me, what have been the most helpful parenting tools are:

 

waiting for the bus and

 

saying what I want (instead of what I don't want).

 

"Waiting for the bus" is when you just let go of anger/frustration about whatever is going on and wait.  For instance, I was once at a public place (indoors) with a child who decided to climb on the walls and jump around in the waiting room.  I stopped them, told them that behavior belongs on a playground instead and we walk in lobbies, then waited for them to apologize to the secretary at the desk for not treating the property respectfully.  Me and two other kids waited a good 10 minutes for the child to apologize, but I didn't keep asking or get angry, I just waited.  It was frustrating, sure.  I wanted to get going.  But the child learned I meant what I said but wasn't going to be mean, and they learned how to behave in a public place.

 

Tjej

 

ETA: My third most helpful tool has been expecting them (and me) to calm down.  Whenever there is a problem we calm down before we try to work it out.

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#14 of 17 Old 01-24-2011, 07:55 PM
 
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While most kids do hit, children who are hit by adults tend to be even more physically aggressive with other children. It may not be the cause but it does often make it worse. It can also contribute to anger problems, resentment, acting out, and a feeling of worthlessness in small children

 

When they fight, basically, you drag them off each other and say "no fighting". Over and over and over! It is enough to drive a mama insane. It can help to separate them. Get one child busy playing leggos and let the other one play in the bathroom sink. Make one child sit with a letter workbook and the other one folding the washcloths.

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#15 of 17 Old 01-25-2011, 10:00 AM
 
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I have 2 kids who are like this too!  They are 6 and 4, just turned 4.  They also have a brother who is 2 who is starting to learn some words like 'shut up'  :(

 

One 'trick' that's worked really well for me is that *I* CAN control the TV set.  ;)  When they have asked to have a show on, and they start fighting--loud arguing or physical, the TV goes off until they've resolved their problem. 

 

Sometimes I do the bedtime thing too--if it's around 7 PM and they've had the one TV warning....it goes off for the night, they do whatever needs to still be done, and they go to bed.  (They may need to still have dinner--usually not--typically, the TV does not come on till dinner and baths are over.  Usually they are down to brushing teeth and bed.)

 

Also toys that cause problems tend to disappear in my house.  ;)  (so any toy that gets fought over goes away, temporarily)


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#16 of 17 Old 01-26-2011, 08:25 AM
 
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OP, I have kids close in age too, and my oldest was the sweetest, most loving, toddler on the planet ....and then he turned 4.  Totally different kid, especially with his brother.  I think there is some sort of power thing going on with them and the sibling is the closest target to practice on!  I would recommend the book, "Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me!"  Some great tips in there.  Also, now that my older ds is 5 1/2, it is getting much better.  He wants to be a helper again.  I talk alot about if he wants to be the kind of person who helps or the kind of kid who hurts.

 

My immediate recommendation would be to pick ONE consequence.  You rattled off many that you've tried, but I would choose just one.  For us, it is either sitting down by the wall or going to the room *whichever is closest!  But explain to each child, "if you hit your brother again, you will have to sit by the wall."  Explain first, and then be consistent. 

 

My biggest regret is that I didn't try to nip this in the bud sooner.  All it has done is ingrained these attitudes in my younger child.  My older one seems to be coming out of it now, i just hope the little one does too :) 


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#17 of 17 Old 01-26-2011, 11:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Courtney-Ostaff View Post

Read Positive Discipline for Preschoolers.

 

Never hit your children. Ever. They're hitting each other because that's what you do to them. If you want them to stop something, you "bopped her mouth".  So naturally, if one of them wants the other to stop something, they're going to "bop her mouth."  



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by averlee View Post

While most kids do hit, children who are hit by adults tend to be even more physically aggressive with other children. It may not be the cause but it does often make it worse. It can also contribute to anger problems, resentment, acting out, and a feeling of worthlessness in small children

 

When they fight, basically, you drag them off each other and say "no fighting". Over and over and over! It is enough to drive a mama insane. It can help to separate them. Get one child busy playing leggos and let the other one play in the bathroom sink. Make one child sit with a letter workbook and the other one folding the washcloths.

I have found this to be false and I certainly don't want to blame the OP for regular behavior that all children (whether hit or not) exhibit. In the real world, having children ages 21, 19, 14, almost 5, 3 and 1yo, I KNOW for a fact that children will hit regardless. I have a much gentler child rearing style for my littles than I did for my older kids. And incidentally, my littles hit and fight way more than their older brothers and sister ever did. 

 

Sometimes books don't reflect reality.

 

To the OP - please let go of the guilt. You are doing the best you can in your circumstances. Love yourself more! Sadly, Grandmothers will always have a different view of discipline because they serve a different function than we mothers serve. I recently learned that I'm going to  be a grandmother in September. I'm going to make a diligent effort to show dd and dsil the respect and support that they need to raise *their* children.
 

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