Help needed to save the sanity/safety of entire family(20 Posts)
I have a wonderful DD who has just turned 3. A year ago I had twin boys, who are amazing, but since their arrival DD has developed a very rough streak.
From when the boys were born for about 6 months there wasn't a day that went by without one or other of them getting bitten/scratched/hit/pushed/squashed. DD loved them to bits, but obviously found it very hard adjusting to these new people and to me being unavailable.
Things quietened down and she stopped being so rough and we had a lovely few months. Huge sigh of relief.
Fast forward to January and the behaviour has started again. I have started working 2 days a week and we've employed a nanny, the boys are also much much more mobile. All this has meant DD is getting very frustrated with her brothers in her space, me not being there all the time etc etc. The past two days have been awful: both boys have gashes under their eyes where their sister has scratched them.
I have tried time outs: very hard to make work with 3 tiny children, but when I do do them DD doesn't really get what they're about and does the whole "I'm sorry" thing, but with no real meaning
I have tried giving her time with just me. Great when it's happening, makes no difference when the moment takes her.
I have tried ignoring. Very hard as I feel so emotional about it, but possibly the most successful in that at least the situation doesn't escalate.
The only thing I can think of to stop it happening ever again is to raise them in separate rooms, but that's obviously total crap. They all love each other so much and have so much fun together, but then this look comes into her eyes and it's like a red mist. Then afterwards it's as if nothing's happened. Some days I wonder if there is something the matter with her, it's as if she's programmed to fight in every threatening situation, but it's almost without emotion...
She is VERY vocal and bright. Any help, books to read, sympathy is greatly appreciated.
You probably have, but have you tried sitting down and explaining to her how painful what she is doing is to the boys, telling her the scratching hurts them and she doesnt like being hurt so why hurt the boys??
Have you also tried the naughty step every time she does it? Sitting her down in a quiet boring spot and telling her she's sat there for hurting her brothers and she's to think about what she's done etc etc. I found naughty step worked a treat with all mine. xx
I found Siblings Without Rivalry an excellent book when dealing with my DS at 2 being rough towards his six month old sister.
Naughty step/time out doesn't really work. She sits there, and then comes back and is nice, then half an hour later it happens again.
Have also explained about pain and how it's not nice. She just doesn't really engage, which is what's so weird as she's really bright and with it and has amazing vocab (she used 'similar' correctly in a sentence, which seems pretty good to me).
I'll check out Siblings without Rivalry, thanks.
IME naughty step doesn't work for many children and there is no point just doing it more (obviously it works for some). It is really hard to deal with this situation, I hope the book is helpful to you. It goes into detail about how to deal with your DD's FEELINGS around her brothers. She has been outnumbered in one fell swoop!
The book will be helpful even though she is so little, my son was only 2 and non verbal and it still made all the difference in the world.
Thanks Humphrey, I think half my problem is worrying that everyone else thinks I'm not handling it right by not using the 'naughty step'. It just doesn't work with her or for us.
Poor little chicken, I feel so sorry for her, but I feel so worried she'll do something one day that will have long term repercussions. I just want someone to tell me she's normal (I know she is, just feeling very desperate and sad at the mo).
Are you using it everytime she does it? I've found you have to be consistant for it to work. Hope you manage to get it sorted soon.
One of the things that I clearly remember is that it is important to hear and acknowledge your daughters negative feelings about her brothers as well as the positive. Insisting on only positive emotions can result in a feeling that you are not being heard. The example given in the book is somethings like "I can see you have two feelings about having a brother. Sometimes it is great and sometimes it is not so great".
You can give her an opportunity to show her anger in a different way - by drawing, hitting a cushions, showing you on her doll etc.
If she does hurt her brothers then you clearly state that other people are not for hurting, then pick up the injured child and leave the room, paying lots of attention to the child who has been hurt.
I had a period of about 4 months of using time outs HerNibs. It was only after I gave up for about two months that she stopped and we had a relative period of calm. I know it works for some families, but honestly, you can come and have a go with DD, but I am pretty sure it wont work!
Humphrey, that all makes sense, and is a lot of what we do already. It's also reminded me that I did used to get her to bite a cushion instead and she has only bitten someone once in the last 6 months...
There are many other suggestions rednellie, that is just what I can remember off the top of my head!
The naughty step is the only parenting technique that, when it doesn't work, people then tell you to do it more! Clearly it works for some children (as it did for yours HerNibs) but I have taught a few children whose behaviour at home was out of control yet their parents clung to the naughty step technique and blamed themselves for not doing it more, or not doing it properly or consistently. A really good parenting technique will work straight away.
Can I come and give you a hug Humphrey? Know it's not very mnetty, but hearing you say that has made me feel so much better.
I will gratefully accept a hug
I was just coming back on to say that you sound as if you are doing brilliantly with three such young children, I was tearing my hair out with just the two...You sound so positive and loving to all of them.
I have a book called Hands are not for Hitting which you read with your child and can refer to when they need distracted or reinforcement (repeating that hands are not for hitting, asking what she could use her clever hands for instead when she looks like she might strike, etc)
I also found making a fuss of the younger one - massive fuss, pick them up, cuddle, "oh poor boy, I'm sure your sister didn't mean to be so rough with you..." - taking the attention away from DD and onto the other child. This worked really well with my DS1 when he was 3.
I think sometimes showing her that she can come first (like letting the baby cry for a few minutes whilst you finish doing something with DD rather than rushing straight to baby).
Naughty step works occasionally for us, but reward stickers seem to be much more effective!
Thanks YouCan'tTeuchThis. Especially the bit about putting her first sometimes.
I've got the Teeth Are Not for Biting book and I'm afraid it went in the bin as DD thought it was hilarious and seemed to spur her on to greater heights of biting...
And thanks Humphrey, it has been hard, but lovely too. 3 under 3 for a year was pretty intense.
Can you find something that only she can do? A job-perhaps her job is to help mummy doing something that they're not old enough to.
Also get a stairgate and put it across her room so she can go to be undisturbed by them when they're getting too much. I had a friend whose daughter used to get into the cot and put the side up if she wanted to play when her brother was about that age. Because at that age they want whatever someone else is playing with. So she felt constantly pushed away from whatever she played with.
Also as they get older remember that she is outnumbered by them consistantly (unless you have more). My mum's doctor had a girl followed by 2 identical boy twins, and he recounted a time when the girl was being really awkward about going out anywhere (age about 12) and behaviour was being really bad.
He'd thought they were really fair-they discussed it then the children voted on where they wanted to go. The twins would typically want to go for the same thing so they nearly always won the vote-so everything was round their interests. So they then did it in strict rotation of who chose. So the twins got to do 2 of their things to one of hers, but she did get the choice then-and her behaviour improved dramatically too.
Wow, that's a crazy story DeWe. I can see how that could happen. To be honest, at the moment, everything revolves around her, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't see it that way.
I've got a stair gate, but she's not strong enough to open it yet as my DH bought a super child proof version...doh.
Anymore advice out there? This has already been so helpful, but it'd be great to hear from any others who've had similar problems...
We have similar scenario with dd1 aged 4 towards dd2 aged 2. Naughty Step is not for us. I liked the book 'what every parent needs to know' by margot Sutherland, which gives some insight into their brain development, why they are as they are, and what you can do to help. We do positive discipline - buckets of praise for good behaviour esp towards sister. When she hits, the aim is to simply restate the boundary in non emotional, but assured voice (we don't hit: hitting hurts) and then distract, or separate the kids, as seems best. We are really concentrating on making one on one time, and expressly telling her it is mummy and dd1 time, or daddy and dd1 time - so she feels she has specil time. It's bluddy hard though. We also have 'hands are not for hitting' and 'teeth are not for biting'.
Thanks Bigtrousers. Yeah one on one time might be something to work on.
I had an interesting reaction this morning: I totally ignored her when she pushed her brother over and just comforted him. She went mental saying 'I was naughty I pushed him over' etc etc. I just totally ignored her then distracted and moved on.
Sounds interesting rednellie.
I remembered that when things got to crisis point with DS I had a terrible day where I shouted and ranted at him. It was awful Poor little DS. I was at the end of my tether and it was on that day I remembered HTT and Siblings Without Rivalry. I had used both books in the classroom but hadn't really thought it would be relevant as DS was not verbal at this point.
After reading the books I woke up the next morning and took DS into bed with me and told him all the fantastic things I loved about him. I went on and on, there was so much to say . Things changed from that point on for us.
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