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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 3-year-old is very physical with her sisters. She is the middle child, and I understand that she often feels dominated by her older sister. She often hits, bites, pulls hair, etc... when her big sister upsets her. She then turns her agression toward her 1-year-old sister by means of pushing/pulling her around, treating her like a toy, and generally irritating her.

Whenever I have any work to get done around the house, my children can't manage to play nicely for a moment without someone falling apart in tears because of my 3-year-old's behavior.
I have never encountered this problem as a parent, and I don't know how to manage it.
Any suggestions?
 

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My 3 yo ds beats ME up and I've been meaning to post>
Hope you get some advice!
 

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Years ago I read in a child development book that this problem is really not that rare among siblings that are less than 3 years apart. I think it was the Burton White book, The First Three Years of Life, but I'm not positive. The author was very firm when a two or three year old acts out this way against the baby, they just shouldn't be left together at all unless an adult is right there. Three year olds can also be too physical with pets too just being playful, but it's not at all uncommon that children this age are physically aggressive when they're stressed. I don't think they have a big repertoire of coping skills yet
-- sometimes, biting and pinching is just the best plan at their disposal.

JMO, but I don't think it's an issue that can be stopped with any kind of magic discipline, not at 3 years old. They're just way too young to cognitively sort through more appropriate alternative solutions in dealing with frustrations with siblings, and others. It's more effective to make changes to the child's environment so the stresses don't present themselves so often. It's like having a three year old that you know becomes a cranky mess at big birthday parties or is almost impossible to put to sleep if she goes to bed too late. The cure is avoid the big parties and late bedtimes, in those cases.

One thing you might try here, just brainstorming, is to charm her to be your Important Helper in some of these times when you're trying to get something done. You can sing simple little songs together while you work, etc, which most children this age adore. Have you ever seen the book, Milly Molly Mandy? It's about a very busy, busy little girl who does all kinds of Very Important Things during the day. Your daughter might be just a little too young for it yet, but maybe not. Milly Molly Mandy is maybe 4, but she is very independent, industrious and interested in everyday things like helping in the garden. I'm just tossing out suggestions how you might change the pattern of the day, redirect her interest and energy, give her more time with you, and reduce the time spent alone together with her siblings for awhile.
 

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Hey I've been trying to put together a post too. My daughter is almost four and she'd the older sister and my dd2 is 18 months, and has been injured nearly every day of her entire short life by her sister. I can't figure out why - is it frustration? Attention? We've tried time outs, we've tried to be UP, we've tried cutting certain foodd out. I'm ready to enroll her in full time daycare, rather than unschool her, in part because of this
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Linda, thank you for that information. I will look for those books, as I have not read either.
I am forming a plan of action. DD#1 and DD#2 share a room at the moment. I think I will remove #2 and put her in with DD#3 so that she does not feel constantly opressed by big sister. I will then implement your idea of including her in my chores and household activities. She is at the age where she is quite destructive around the house, so that might offer her a bit of positive influence.
Again, thanks. I am still trying to figure out how best to train my children, and am new to the gentle discipline philosophy. While I don't completely agree with all of it, I am starting to warm up to most of it. I would appreciate more suggestions if anyone has anything different to offer.
 
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