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My middle ds is almost four and we're still struggling with gentleness with regard to the baby (almost 1 yo).<br><br>
Everything I've tried has failed. Sometimes I just get so frustrated and end up yelling "STOP" if he's sitting on or putting his feet on the baby. I want him to be able to play with his baby brother, but not if I know he'll hurt him.<br><br>
I've tried showing him the difference between gentle and not gentle. He has a tendency to be really rough even to the point of hurting his older brother. The thing is, though, he's very sneaky about the whole thing. Like if the baby is pulling up on a chair or the baby gate, my 4 yo will quietly take the baby's hands off and make him fall down on purpose. Or he'll throw things at the baby and run away before I can say anything to him.<br><br>
I'm at my wits' end.<br><br>
(mods feel free to move this if it's in the wrong forum)
 

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I am so there with you. My ds is 3.5 and the baby is 14 mo...nothing gets me angrier than to see him hurt her but NOTHING I do works. A lot of times it isn't even malicious it's more just his curiosity to see what will happen when he pushes her, etc., but that doesn't make it hurt any less for her. It helps when I put whatever project ds is working on up on the kitchen table so she can't get to it because most of the time this type of interaction happens when dd wants to be involved in whatever ds is doing. He also tends to do this kind of stuff when he's bored so I try to have projects lined up for him to work on when he's bored--play doh or pens or whatever. I so hope he outgrows this soon!
 

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What if you make it his "job" to look out for the baby, take care of him, etc.? I have really seen this work: if your ds could feel possesive of the baby to the point that he felt protective, that might help. Also, it could lessen the jealousy factor, because instead of looking at the baby as competition, "mama's <i>other</i> baby" he may begin to see he baby as <i>his</i>, like his teddy or something.<br>
Stuff like: "here, take this juice to the baby", or "look out for your brother", or "show the baby how to do...".Lots of comments like: "wow, baby sure likes to watch you do that, he can't wait to be big like you!"
 

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Hi, Lizzie <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wave.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wave">!<br><br>
Um, yeah, we're there, too. Maybe our dynamics are a little different b/c my two are a little closer in age than your two . . .<br><br>
I yell a lot more than I want to. (This is especially not a good thing because me yelling upsets my LO almost as much sometimes as DS1 attacking him.)<br><br>
One thing my boys love to do is roughhouse on the bed (which is okay with me as long as they're both having fun - they like to wrestle, grab, push over on soft surfaces, etc.). But it OFTEN gets out of hand. So I've started sitting right there with them and setting the ground rules verbally by saying early and often to DS1 "no jumping on, no rolling over, no whacking." Then when he does one of these things, I make him get off the bed and not play for a few minutes. Once DS2 has calmed down, he can get on and play again for as long as he can keep it safe.<br><br>
Telling DS1 that he is "guarding" DS2 if we are playing outside and I have to go to the other end of the yard for something or inside for 2 seconds to get a tissue or something works - sometimes. Other times, it doesn't. It works more and more often, though.<br><br>
Talking about gentle hasn't seemed to have much effect. He knows *how* to be gentle, he just doesn't want to be. There is a cool picture book called "Be Gentle" about a bear and a kitten that is really cute and he likes it a lot.<br><br>
DS1 is just beginning to maybe be able to talk to me about what he needs instead of attacking DS2 to get it <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes">. Yesterday he ran his tricycle into DS2's pushcar (a no-no - it scares the baby) and I got down in his face and with persistent but fairly calm questioning figured out that what he really needed was some alone time with me. I promised faithfully to make that happen before bed. The next time he started to attack I reminded him of that promise and that I keep promises and could he stop attacking and he said, in his cutest reluctant whine voice, "I *guess* so . . ."<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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I like the idea about making ds "protector" of the baby--I think that kind of thing might work for us now--but thinking ahead I'm wondering how that will look in a few years. My dh is constantly telling me stories of how when he was little he always felt like he should be "in charge" of his little sister but she wanted nothing to do with it. Does anyone have any experience with this kind of dynamic? My dd loves her older brother and will do anything to get his attention, even if it means she gets shoved--now. But what happens when she's more independent and knowledgeable and isn't interested in his "protection"? Wouldn't that be worse for their relationship?
 

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Well, then you have a talk with ds about how his sister isn't a baby anymore and doesn't need his protection... Just like he doesn't need to hold hands in the street any more, or whatever. I think a lot of us had parents who weren't as conscious as we are about these kinds of things. Sometimes just speaking frankly with a kid can be enough.
 

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Very interesting thread. I do try to teach my son to notice how his sister is really hurt from that last move and sometimes he seems to care, sometimes not. It has been 10 months and things are smoothing out. I don't yell as much or try to interrupt their play for fear of the older hurting the younger. Most of the time, she either laughs or cries for a minute then goes back for more. So I wait to see what happens but I don't think it's healthy to watch their every move. The other morning, my son spent twenty minutes in the bathroom with my daughter playing doctor (giving her medicine) then brushing her hair. It was too cute! In the car he often sings to her. Today on the drive home from preschool, they were just looking at each other cracking up with laughter. So I think if you work on a connection, help it to blossom, they will look at each other as opportunities for fun. Not always of course but the more chances they get to work out their issues early on, the more fun they have together, the more it will work out in the end.
 

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That's true, maybe you just have to talk about how things change at some point. My ds is already telling me that dd "is not a baby anymore but she's a kid now like me" so obviously he can comprehend her changing and growing.<br><br>
I have noticed that for the past month or so if he accidently knocks dd down he will apologize profusely, "I'm soooooo sorry!" so if he doesn't do this it's pretty much a given he has done it on purpose. Makes it easier for me to follow what's going on, anyway...
 

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I'm in the same boat and often at my wits end with ds1 (4 yrs) being rough with ds2 (13 mos). I have found though that when ds1 is acting up a lot that I need to put aside some special time for the two of us. I call it a "date" Nothing big, just a trip to the library or someplace else he enjoys while ds2 stays with daddy.<br><br>
It must be so hard for our big guys to adjust to having to share mommy's attention! I really feel for ds1 sometimes!
 
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