"My 22 month old younger daughter very aggressively scratches my older daughter, who is 3 and a half."
"The 2 year old is beating up on the 8 year old at our house!"
"My toddler climbs on my five year old's back like a monkey and won't get off."
In my last post, I described how to intervene when a preschooler is aggressive toward a younger sibling. But sometimes it's the younger child, often a toddler, who initiates the brawling. Toddlers don't have a fully developed frontal cortex, so their emotions routinely overcome their knowledge that "hitting hurts." And often they can't express themselves very well verbally, so they're easily frustrated.
But your older child deserves to feel safe in her own house, so you can't just sit by and "let them work it out." Obviously, you immediately get between your children to stop the hitting. You say "Ouch! No hitting! Hitting hurts!" But what if the aggression continues? READ POST
"My three year keeps hurting my 15 month old. Sometimes they play nicely, then out of the blue he'll just shove her over. We do timeouts and lectures all day long, but it doesn't help." – Claudia
Henry, age 3, is playing with Sophie, 15 months, by grabbing a toy away from her. Sophie loves his attention and giggles at this interesting game, especially because he restores the toy to her every time. But Henry is getting rougher each time, and Sophie is clinging harder to the toy. He wrenches it away from her. Sophie bursts into tears. Henry, feeling guilty, says “You act like a baby!” and reaches out and shoves her down, hard. Now Sophie is wailing. READ POST
“So just to clarify: 3-year-old girl
kicks 1-year-old, there's a blood-curdling scream, and I am to hold my 3-year-old (after making sure the
crying 1-year-old is fine, got that) and just sit with her until she
feels better? No time-out, just hold her and tell her that I love her
and that I know she is hurting too....So, no discipline, just love, i.e.
more attention....more attention for kicking the baby?!"
I know exactly what this mom means. Someone kicks my baby? The lion-mama in me roars. The last thing I would feel like doing is lavishing love on the perpetrator. READ POST
"When your son and daughter are fighting with
each other, you want them to learn to resolve their differences
successfully, but you may have never learned to successfully work
through conflicts yourself. Before you can teach your kids to listen,
identify the problem, express their feelings, generate solutions, and
find common ground, you have to learn those problem-solving skills
yourself"- Laura Davis & Janis Keyser
Should you intervene in a sibling fight? If they're working it out well themselves, No. And often, children do. They're endlessly creative. Conflict is actually good for them, because it teaches them how to work things out with other people. As Pamela Dugdale says, “Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way.”
So remind yourself that a certain amount sibling squabbling is not only normal, but necessary. If "peace" depends on kids being forced to swallow their needs to accommodate siblings on a regular basis, it isn't good for either of them. Your children need to develop their voices, learn how to express their needs, try out strategies to meet their goals.
But they also need to learn to listen to each other, empathize, and regulate their anger rather than dumping on others. While our modeling helps with these skills, most kids need some targeted coaching to use them, at least when emotions are running hot. READ POST
"Just how much more love and attention can I give him?"
If all your love and attention aren't changing his behavior, it's because they aren't addressing the feelings driving the behavior.READ POST
"My almost 3 year old has been potty trained for a
year. Lately, it's been fun to pee down his heating vent in his room.
This morning, he really pushed me to my limit when I came out of the
shower and realized he had peed on his 9 month old brother. And then
when I put him in time-out in his room (instead of spanking him, which
is really what I wanted to do) he peed in his heater vent again. I feel
like I try to be a good parent, so I don't know what I'm doing wrong.
How much more love and affection can I give him? We'll start a sticker
chart today and hope that works. Because once you pee on your brother,
you've gone too far, and we have to fix this now." -- Anonymous
Clearly peeing on the baby is going too far! Last week we looked at why spankings and timeouts don't really work when the toddler pees on the baby. (If you missed that post, it's here.) Today, let's consider Sticker charts. Tomorrow, we'll explore that all-too-familiar refrain: How much more love and affection can I give him? And on Thursday, we'll wrap up this little series with some real solutions. (Can't wait? They'll be geared toward helping this little pisser manage his emotions, so he can manage his behavior.) READ POST