Please help, my 2 year old is hurting other children.

(36 Posts)
PrincessRomy Sat 28-Sep-13 22:31:33

Dd is 2 and 2 months. New baby brother arrived the day before her 2nd birthday. She likes to hug and kiss him but also will swipe at his head and scratch his face if I'm not quick enough to stop her.

She has started doing this to other children at toddler groups and parties, as well as snatching toys and pushing/pulling over. Grabbed at a boys face today and scratched under his eye. I'm mortified and not sure if I'm handling it right.

I talked to her before we went to the party today explaining that she needed to be gentle with everyone. I praised her loads when she was being good being specific about what it was I was pleased with. When she grabbed at the boys face I took her, said no calmly but firmly then took her to one side and made her stay with me for a while, said if she wasn't gentle again we'd have to leave. Took her with me to say sorry to boy (I said it as couldn't get her to).

She seems fascinated by what she's doing. Often talking about kids 'crying' when they are ones she's hurt. It breaks my heart because I know how lovely she is.

My plan for the next few days:

Before going to potential situation I will give her a detailed pep talk explaining behaviour I want and don't want. Also explain consequences if she hurts anyone - probably leaving the activity and going home.

Praise at every opportunity, and if situation is going well, possibly leave early so it ends on a good note and I can praise praise praise. Watching for signs of tiredness etc and taking her home before she gets too tired (think she was ready for nap when incident at party happened today).

Giving no opportunity for her to hurt/attempt to grab at ds, then praise her loads for how gentle she is.

How does this sound? I don't want to be too soft I really really want this behaviour to stop as soon as I can, but I don't believe that shouting etc works and I'm also aware that her little world has been turned upside down with the arrival of ds and she is so good and lovely most of the time, really accepting him. I don't want her to feel pushed out or rejected by me.

This is happening when in contact with other toddlers. Should I avoid toddler groups for a while? It just seems important to me that she socialises with other kids.

Should I offer rewards as well as praise? Eg after toddler group today we can watch a bit of cbeebies when we get home if you are gentle all the time? Or a star chart working towards a reward? Or is she too young for this and should I be expecting her to behave in an acceptable way without a reward?

Would some sort of time out system help, especially in the house, following bad behaviour?

I just don't know what to do but want it to stop as I don't want my lovely little girl to get a reputation for being unkind sad

If she tries to hurt ds how should I handle it. I initially I was saying a very stern, dramatic 'no' but I think she liked the attention from this. Now I'm trying to give her no opportunity eg holding her hands while she goes to give him a kiss then immediately taking him away then praising her for how gentle she is but if she does manage to hurt him how should I react. I'm just doing a sad face and saying 'no we don't do that' at the moment. Should I maybe put her on a 'naughty step' (although I wouldn't call it that)?

PrincessRomy Sat 28-Sep-13 22:32:24

Oh dear that was very long. If you have managed to read I'd really appreciate any help.

Beamur Sat 28-Sep-13 22:44:46

I don' t think 2 yr olds really get this yet, so I wouldn't worry too much, but it is upsetting and not nice for other parents/children either to be on the end of. I stopped going to one toddler group because of another child who was repeatedly hurting mine and other children.
Personally, I'd avoid reward charts and just keep reinforcing and rewarding good behaviour and nipping in the bud and avoiding situations where you think it might go pear shaped. If you think she is likely to kick off at toddler groups then it might be worth doing something perhaps more structured instead, so her attention is more focused.
Negative attention is still worth having, so I think you're spot on to try and avoid telling your DD off, but instead being prepared and deflecting her from hurting her brother. I'm not sure that at 2yrs old she would remember to be 'good' throughout the session in order to get the reward, but I'd certainly fulsomely praise any efforts after the event. Setting up a conditional reward which you might fail to get is tough for a little one to understand, but positive reinforcement of even a small amount of the desired behaviour might help get the message home. I.e. every time she kisses the baby to say how lovely it is that she is being kind and gentle to the baby etc.

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 01:24:05

Thank you. So my initial instincts about it seem ok? I might cut down the toddler groups or only go for a short while this week. Hopefully this is a phase and will pass quickly?

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 07:08:21

Shameless bump for any more advice?

BlackberrySeason Sun 29-Sep-13 07:19:08

Sounds to me like you are doing a good job. I think also explaining why we don't hurt is important too - sure you are already doing this. I would say 'we don't scratch or hit because it hurts people and makes them sad'.

beachavendrea Sun 29-Sep-13 07:24:35

I think she's too you g for rewards. Also I'm not sure I would do the pep talks about appropriate behaviour this could cause anxiety and also remind her in a way.

We used the phrase gentle hands with my so and I would hold my sins hands firmly as I said it. That's all I would do, no big deal. At that age remember the behaviour is a bit unconscious.
At toddler groups I would apologise to the other child and then apologise to the parent/caret. Most parents understand but if the thought of them is causing you too much stress just avoid them.

All kids go through something like this and she will grow out of it.

AnneEyhtMeyer Sun 29-Sep-13 07:28:09

I think you need to follow her around at toddler groups to stop her hurting other children. I know that when DD was at toddler groups there were kids who hit while their mums sat and chatted and these were the ones who made some groups so miserable that we stopped going.

I also didn't want DD seeing bad behaviour with no consequences. I think as soon as a child hits another they should be removed from the situation. Immediately going home may be the shock she needs.

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 07:33:40

Thank you, that makes me feel better. Inside I don't think it's that big a deal and I'm happy to just praise the positive and gently remind her. It's just when we're out and other parents are there I suppose I get embarrassed and imagine I'm being judged for not doing more/for being too soft.

I don't think it was entirely her fault at the party as we missed/ignored her tiredness cues because the party was on until a set time and also she had been given cake at the party. Sugar high + tiredness, I can't really blame her!

She's been lovely with her little brother this morning. Just going to keep with the positives today I think.

It's good to be reassured that I'm doing the right thing. It doesn't seem right to 'tell her off' or punish her when she's so little. Just needed to know I'm not being too soft though. It's such a responsibility to try and find the balance - I don't want to be strict parent but I also need to make sure she grows up well behaved and nice to others.

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 07:33:40

Thank you, that makes me feel better. Inside I don't think it's that big a deal and I'm happy to just praise the positive and gently remind her. It's just when we're out and other parents are there I suppose I get embarrassed and imagine I'm being judged for not doing more/for being too soft.

I don't think it was entirely her fault at the party as we missed/ignored her tiredness cues because the party was on until a set time and also she had been given cake at the party. Sugar high + tiredness, I can't really blame her!

She's been lovely with her little brother this morning. Just going to keep with the positives today I think.

It's good to be reassured that I'm doing the right thing. It doesn't seem right to 'tell her off' or punish her when she's so little. Just needed to know I'm not being too soft though. It's such a responsibility to try and find the balance - I don't want to be strict parent but I also need to make sure she grows up well behaved and nice to others.

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 07:39:40

I have been following her around the groups, it just happens so fast sometimes! Also I've got 8 week old ds. There have been times I've rushed across to dd with ds still attached to my breast to stop her doing something. I make it very clear at the group that I'm staying near because I'm aware she is grabbing at the moment and always apologise profusely if she does anything. Most it's nothing too violent, just snatching a toy or doing a big bear hug that pulls someone to the ground but it's not acceptable. I agree that now we've had enough times for her to know she shouldn't do it maybe I should just leave the groups.

It's hard though because they save my sanity when I'm at home all day with toddler and baby on fuck all sleep!

Have just ordered a baba sling so I should be able to feed ds and police dd a bit better. Giving no opportunity should be the way to go.

I just want to clarify I'm not a mum at toddler group who sits chatting not watching their kid and letting them be violent - I'm just not quick enough sometimes!

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 07:43:04

I'm the stressed tired looking one with a baby under my arm following my child repeating 'be gentle' grin

ifyouletmefinish Sun 29-Sep-13 07:49:47

You sound like you are doing a great job. It's horrible when your little one is playing up and you feel so responsible. But they all go through it at some stage and it doesn't mean she isn't a lovely little girl. Most parents are really understanding especially if they see the parent is trying to manage the situation. And she sounds so loving to your new one, how very sweet.

nextphase Sun 29-Sep-13 08:11:35

Very similar age gap here.
I spent a lot of time screeching "gently" in the early days.
We also did the "how do you feel when you've been hurt", "so how does X feel?" - Sad

I wouldn't reward, but its not my typical style.

I'd also keep with the toddler groups, and very short finger nails - reduces the pain and damage!, and try to distract if you see any warning signs - difficult with a small baby. I had a lot of success with DS2 in the sling at toddler groups.

SlightlyItchyBraStrap Sun 29-Sep-13 08:44:33

Am having exactly same situation with ds1 and ds2, similar ages. It started before ds2 was born but has now escalated. It is now so extreme that I have stopped toddler groups for a while, but am still inviting friends over as it's easier to manage in smaller groups.

I really feel for you. Will be back later with some resources and tips when I can get on my laptop.

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 09:20:51

Thank you. You're all stopping me stressing that I'm going to turn my beautiful, loving girl into a bully!

UriGeller Sun 29-Sep-13 09:33:14

I'd stop going to playgroups for a bit. It sounds like its all too much for her at the moment.
She's not 'socialising' with the other kids if she's hitting or scratching them is she?

Get back to enjoying a bit of relaxed, happy 1-1 and close contact with her in familiar surroundings (hard with new baby I know!)
Get out and about and let her watch how you interact with other people, chatting politely and smiling etc. good luck.

Goldmandra Sun 29-Sep-13 09:47:02

You're taking the right approach and given some time it will work.

I wouldn't stop going to the groups altogether but, if you're getting stressed trying to manage both DCs at the same time, it makes sense to cut down. Do what you think you can enjoy with her. Maybe arrive or leave part way through a session or just pick the bits she particularly likes e.g. if they have a story or sing-song time. If you can be there for a short time without incident you can heap praise on her for her good behaviour.

It's clear that you're working really hard to solve this. It's just frustrating when you put all the right strategies in place and things don't improve quickly. They will soon if you continue to be consistent and positive.

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 10:01:44

Claws are clipped very short today and she's been praised for lovely behaviour with her brother. She's so loving she keeps kissing him on the head, it's very sweet.

Good idea to cut the groups short. I'll keep it brief and hopefully leave on a high (fingers crossed).

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 10:33:37

Oh dear I've just had a meltdown. While I was feeding ds she came up, grabbed and pulled his feet then hit him round the head with a plastic bowl. Ashamed to say I shouted 'no' then ran off into the kitchen crying sad. Oh dear, I don't think that's the best way to handle it is it?

In my defence I've had about four hours sleep in total, broken up into about 3 chunks thanks to ds night waking.

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 10:34:14

Neither consistent or positive sad

AnneEyhtMeyer Sun 29-Sep-13 11:11:54

I don't think 2 is too young for consequences. What are the consequences of her poor behaviour?

At 2 DD knew that if she misbehaved we went home. Right there and then. No question. It is still the same now she is 4. Consistency is key.

nextphase Sun 29-Sep-13 11:42:04

princess
Nope, it probably wasn't the best way to deal with it, but hey, find me someone who says they never got it wrong bringing up kids, and I'll show you a lier!

Go give her a cuddle, tell her your sorry, but hurting people is wrong, and it upsets you, and move on.

Its lovely here today, can you get to a park for a run around (DD), and freash air (you and DS?)

brew and cake

Goldmandra Sun 29-Sep-13 12:00:50

Find me a parent who hasn't had episodes like that and I'll find you a fantasist!

You are entitled to the odd meltdown of your own you know and I don't think it does any harm at all smile

Cut yourself some slack. You're working really hard to get it right for both of your children and, on top of the tiredness, your instinct to protect your DS must be screaming at you every time she goes near him.

Take a breath and carry on. You're doing great. Honestly smile

PrincessRomy Sun 29-Sep-13 19:17:52

Ah, thank you. You'll make me cry in my hormonal, sleep deprived state. We have had a lovely day in the end, and I'm now sat on dd's bedroom floor helping her to get to sleep, whilst feeding ds. Need to remember, amongst all the chaos, tantrums and tears, how blessed I am to have the two of them. Now to try and not fuck them up too much... grin

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