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)?

Goldmandra Wed 02-Oct-13 16:49:11

She is an exuberant girl with a lot of character and I'm not going to use this as an excuse for her behaviour but I also don't want to squash that vivaciousness completely iyswim.

Too right!

You just want her to learn to respond to negative emotions in a less physical way and she will, in time smile

PrincessRomy Wed 02-Oct-13 14:42:13

She is an exuberant girl with a lot of character and I'm not going to use this as an excuse for her behaviour but I also don't want to squash that vivaciousness completely iyswim.

PrincessRomy Wed 02-Oct-13 14:40:35

Last two posts make a lot of sense to me.

Dd (and the rest of us) have been pretty poorly last few days, so I've not been to any groups. Positive praise and little opportunity to hurt ds seems to have gone well while at home though. She's been really gentle and loving towards him and I keep praising her for that, even when she's not actively doing it i.e. telling other adults in front of her how gentle she's being and how much I love it.

Next week when we're all better we'll see how things go! Is it awful that I found the day she was illest and quite inactive just wanting to sit on the sofa and cuddle quite relaxing? I'd obviously never wish her poorly

matana Wed 02-Oct-13 12:39:46

Oh OP, if i had a pound for every one of these threads i'd be a very rich woman! There's some great advice on here and i'm sure you feel reassured.

Just to say that they do come out of the other side - eventually. We've had repeated episodes of hitting, biting, kicking since DS turned about 18 months. He's now almost 3 and those occasions are extremely rare and usually follow some kind of provocation, it doesn't just come out of the blue. He's a very caring, loving and affectionate little boy who sometimes is a little over exhuberant, but other than that he's fine. I wouldn't link your DD's behaviour to your new baby, more a developmental rite of passage!

In the kindest way possible, you are over thinking it. A long, drawn out explanation about behaviour will mean nothing to your DD as her attention span will still be extremely limited. She also can't reason in the same way as an older child. A simple "We don't hit, hitting hurts," and lots of attention for the LO who is on the receiving end will mean she learns in the end - but don't expect it to happen quickly! Around that age i also began asking DS to say sorry because he had hurt someone. I just think if you're the parent of the child on the receiving end it might go some way to reassure them you're on top of it.

blueberryupsidedown Wed 02-Oct-13 12:09:41

Another tip would be to pay a lot of attention to the other child - the one that has been hurt. When your DD hurts another child, she expects you to pay attention to HER. That's what you don't want. You want to pay attention to the other child, go straight to him/her, make a bug fuss over him/her, make absolutely sure they are ok. Then go to your child, taker by the hand (don't pick her up un your arms), take her out of the room or away from distraction/the playgroup/the other children. Then go down to her lever and tell her in a very firm voice that we never ever ever hit (don't use the word hurt, it's too abstract. refer to what she has just done - scratch, push, punch, hit, whatever) other children. Let her cry is she does, but don't pick her up or give her cuddles. I have seen this way too often, parents picking up their own child after they have hurt anotehr kid and paying all the attention to their own child. It's not in my opinion a good way of doing things. You don't want to give her the message that she will get your attention if she hurts someone.

Then take her to the child that was hurt, and get her to apologise. If she doesn't want to, walk her out of the room again, talk to her again, and get her to apologise. You really need to nip this in the bud and I'm sorry but a softly softly approach might make it worst in the long run.

cravingcake Wed 02-Oct-13 04:54:09

Some really helpful advice on here. My DS is 23 months and in a kicking and hitting, and running off phase. I'm 23 weeks pregnant too.

One thing that helps me at toddler groups is other parents i'm friends with. They help keep an eye on my DS and if they see him do something unacceptable they will tell him off (if i havent been quick enough to stop the situation) and i will do the same with their DC's too. It works for us and means we dont miss out on the groups.

PoppyWearer Mon 30-Sep-13 20:12:13

I just want to add that I wouldn't read too much into the arrival of your DC2 as a trigger for the behaviour.

My DC2 is the same age, no younger sibling or baby on the way and he just seems to turn into the devil-child from time to time, hitting other children. Especially poor DC1!

IME his behaviour seems to be linked to teething. He's in pain, he can't express it, so he lashes out. It's just the age they are.

I'm doing lots of positive reinforcement of good behaviour, lots of bad parenting thrown into the mix too, and just repeating "this too shall pass".

FWIW my younger sister was exactly the same for a while as well at this age. I remember it well!

Zoogeek Mon 30-Sep-13 20:01:43

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beachavendrea Mon 30-Sep-13 01:01:01

Don't be too tough on yourself. I used to live at toddler groups and I never got mad if I child was violent towards mine if the parent addressed the issue, it's the ones that ignored it that irritated me.

Don't worry about looking too soft you are parenting your way and be confident with it. I'd much rather be too soft than too harsh, I have seen that over and over again and it's nasty.

I have a 12 week old and a 3 and a half and I am knackered so I feel for you. my ds once threw a bucket at my head and I shut myself in the kitchen and cried no idea why it was the end of a very long day.

snowman1 Sun 29-Sep-13 20:23:15

i could have written your post this time last year! My LO now restricts her roughness to her baby sis but she is a lot better now in public.
One thing I would add is i found my child's behaviour was worse when she was hungry or thirsty. Try and feed them before it bets them into a bad mood. would agree with the other posters that a reward like CBBCs in an hour's time is too far away at this age, they are too in the moment, in 6 months maybe, but not now. Keep the language positive ("gentle hands", rather than "no pushing or snatching" ie tell them what they can do rather than what they can't is better. This too shall pass but you have it very tough right now! oh and get there early and don't be afraid to leave early before it gets to busy/your child has had enough. Good luck!

nextphase Sun 29-Sep-13 20:07:59

Now to try and not fuck them up too much... Sounds like an excellent mantra. The other one I like is "Everyone is fed, and no-one died. It was a good day."

Hope you get a couple of good hrs sleep tonight.

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

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

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

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.

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

Neither consistent or positive sad

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 10:01:44

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).

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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