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Am I being pfb or not?

(27 Posts)
CrohnicallyChanging Mon 10-Mar-14 21:11:54

Let me start by saying I love my niece to bits. But recently she's been getting on my nerves- since DD was born really. DD is now a toddler and things seem to be getting worse not better.

DN is 3 years older than DD- DN is 4, and DD 1. When the 2 are together, DD is not allowed to do anything without DN interfering. For example, DD picks up a toy. Without fail, DN will want the exact same one that DD has. We give DN a different one but that's not good enough and she will wait till the moment DD relaxes her grip and pounce. DD realises DN has the thing she was using and wails. Then either a) we insist that DN hands it back (if DD was clearly using it) so DN cries/sulks/tantrums or b) if DD wasn't using it we let DN keep it and distract DD with something else- which DN will then want and it starts again.

It's driving me absolutely potty! And that's not to mention all the times DN will 'cuddle' DD (involving hanging round her neck or pulling her arm, DD is only just walking so frequently falls). DD tolerates this on occasion, but if she's tired, hungry or grumpy she doesn't like it, doesn't speak enough to say she doesn't like it, and will hit DN in self defence. Obviously I don't want to encourage hitting so tell DD off, but DN will wade right back in and do it again- even though we tell her 'DD doesn't want to be cuddled right now'. DN will then cry/sulk/tantrum because she's been hit or because she's been told off.

I think that a lot of her behaviour is attention seeking, so I do make a real effort to do things with DN, and often we do things that exclude DD so DN gets 1-1 time with me. It's just sometimes I feel myself bristling when DN wants a hug, or getting impatient when DN is wailing over something petty.

I have been getting comments from DN's family that DD has me wrapped around her little finger, and that she's going to struggle when she goes to nursery because she 'can't share' (referring to the fact that she cries when she sees DN has taken something).

The thing is, we had a friend's little girl over recently, who is 3. DD and friend's daughter were playing really nicely alongside each other, giving each other toys and letting the other take one in return. We didn't have any crying or tantrumming off either of them. Which makes me think that DD isn't the problem as suggested by DN's family, DN is! So am I being pfb and refusing to admit that it's 6 of one, half a dozen of the other? Is there anything I can do to encourage the girls to get along better and stop myself being irritated by DN's behaviour? (Sorry it's so long!)

lessthanBeau Mon 10-Mar-14 21:20:53

4 and 1 is a bit of a large age gap to be 6 of 1 half a dozen of the other. your dd is just a baby, you cannot possibly compare the 2 behaviourally(is that a word?) dn is jealous plain and simple.
if dns parents are saying your baby is the problem , I think they are the ones who are being pfb.
Tell dn to be a big girl and to leave the baby alone.

emsyj Mon 10-Mar-14 21:26:00

I have a DD who is almost 4 and one who has just turned 1. All of the behaviour you describe as coming from your DN happens in my house!!! grin That's not to say they don't have some rare occasions where they play nicely together, but I think all of the stuff your DN does is fairly normal I'm afraid. You might have to just accept that it is hard work when the two of them are together and this will gradually change as your DD gets older and more able to stand up for herself.

I don't think either child is 'the problem', they're both doing very standard things for their age. FWIW, DD1 is able to play nicely with other kids, both younger and older, and shares beautifully with her same-aged friend's younger sister, but it's a bit different when it's family. There's probably a bit of jealousy/feeling pushed out going on here too.

All you can do is try to take deep breaths, be patient, play with them so that they are supervised (DD1 was wrestling with DD2 when DH was supposed to be watching them this morning, result a rather large bump to DD2's head sad) and know that the dynamics of the relationship will change as they get older.

MrsBungle Mon 10-Mar-14 21:28:06

This behaviour from your dn sounds very like my dd and my ds who are 4 and 1. Normal but annoying. I think you're being a bit pfb.

Sirzy Mon 10-Mar-14 21:28:54

Sounds like normal behaviour for a 4 year old.

Sirzy Mon 10-Mar-14 21:28:54

Sounds like normal behaviour for a 4 year old.

TheBody Mon 10-Mar-14 21:29:35

are you looking after dn? why is she with you so much? and yes you are being daft as a brush, dn is 4. she's probably bored stiff with just your dd to play with. is she at school? if she's been the inky gc in the family she's probably a bit jealous and that's normal.

TheFabulousIdiot Mon 10-Mar-14 21:32:49

I think when your DC is four some pennies will drop, probably they will drop when she is two and again when she is three.

I thinkit's wrong for a family member to suggest that your DD is 'the problem'.

It's just how things are when there is an age gap.

Oh, and my DS has friends his own age who are better and worse than him at sharing, snatching and playing with each other. Children vary, some times to extremes, but they are all learning things and it will level out.

mewkins Mon 10-Mar-14 21:32:53

Dn is jealous and fair enough! I think you may have to lower expectations of them playing together for a while until dd is old enough to hold her own. In the meantime can you involve dn in looking after dd. Eg. Helping prepare food and drink, helping to 'read' to dd etc?

DoJo Mon 10-Mar-14 21:36:12

It sounds normal for both of them - so long as your niece is being disciplined appropriately when she misbehaves I don't really see what else you can do.

CrohnicallyChanging Mon 10-Mar-14 21:40:15

emsyj thank you for such a detailed post. I guess one of my worries is that DD and DN will get stuck in the same pattern and DD will associate DN with making her cry! (Especially as DD was so good with this other little girl) It's nice to know that it is normal and that things will naturally change as they get older.

lessthanbeau That's what I was thinking, but wasn't sure if I was being blinkered.

thebody no, I'm not looking after DN. But we do see each other very regularly. DN is at nursery during the week so does get chance to play with her own age group then.

PurplePidjin Mon 10-Mar-14 21:41:30

It sounds normal for a 4yo but surely the adults' job is to teach her to have some empathy for the just-toddling baby?!

My dn's are 8 (nonverbal ASD, behaviour and communication similar to my 16mo ds's but obviously bigger and stronger) and 6, so slightly different, but our family dynamic is that we each parent our own children. Obviously if one of the dc does something and their parent isn't present then whichever adult is there steps in to sort things out. But SIL always ensures that both her dc respect my ds's space and the fact that he's a baby.

Your dn's family are doing her no favours whatsoever by teaching her that she'll get her own way all the time - she's old enough to learn to look after her little cousin.

YoHoHoandabottleofWine Mon 10-Mar-14 21:44:44

I also want to add that my 4 year-old would behave like that with his brother (who is 2) but put him with a younger child he doesn't know so well and he will be an absolute angel and do everything possible to look after them.

Your DN and DD have a sibling-type relationship, which must mean that you have a close relationship with your DN which is lovely (trying to put a positive spin on it?!!).

MoominsYonisAreScary Mon 10-Mar-14 21:45:11

Mine are nearly 3 and 1 and sound exactly the same.

My dn is 4 and now its my 3 year old always wanting to hang off her/play with what she has.

In a few years time you will probably find the roles reverce

IAmNotAPrincessIAmAKahleesi Mon 10-Mar-14 21:45:17

Its pretty normal but as they aren't siblings it's a bit trickier because you can't intervene as much

if it starts becoming too much of a problem just avoid times when the two of them will need to play together

LetTheRiverAnswer Mon 10-Mar-14 21:46:46

Sounds like good preparation for managing a sibling relationship. It came as a terrible shock to me when ds1 behaved towards ds2 as you describe your DN towards behaving towards your DD. Except there was no escape from it and I couldn't question other peoples parenting. Think of it as handy training in case you have another dc smile

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 10-Mar-14 21:49:00

Sometimes you have to call it. DD is 3 and there is an almost 5 yo DD of a friend who winds her up terribly. We have just decided that they are no good for each other and don't try to force a friendship.

CrohnicallyChanging Mon 10-Mar-14 21:50:29

mewkins I don't actually expect them to play together, or even alongside. But DN will follow DD around and try to take over join in with what DD is doing. For example, DN wants to play a board game. It has small parts so we station DD over the other side of the room with a book and start playing the game with DN. DN will have one go, then DD makes a noise and DN will start asking DD what book she's reading, can she read it to DD (as she takes it out of DD's hands and DD starts wailing). We get DN back to the game, but whenever it's someone else's turn her attention wanders to DD until eventually we say 'if you don't want to play the game, we'll tidy it away' and DN starts crying because she does want to play!

DoJo that's a whole new thread! In my opinion DN isn't disciplined appropriately, she is told off but that's all. Whereas I think occasionally there needs to be something 'bigger' than a telling off otherwise it's kind of meaningless. Like on another thread on here, a 3 year old was removed, after being warned, from soft play for hitting. Whereas DN is only ever warned and the removal doesn't happen.

CrohnicallyChanging Mon 10-Mar-14 21:54:45

Training for managing a sibling relationship- I like that idea! Siblings might be harder as they're together almost all the time, but at least I wouldn't be stepping on anyone else's toes when it comes to managing disagreements. I'm torn between 'DN is older and should know better' and 'I must be seen to be fair and not biased towards DD' and 'well DD had it first!'

TheBody Mon 10-Mar-14 21:59:15

to be honest after reading your posts you do seem to be trying to be very fair to both children.

it is normal behaviour on both parts. it will get better though as the age gap narrows with understanding.

emsyj Mon 10-Mar-14 22:04:27

I think it is much too much like hard work to try and get the two of them to do different things. I personally try to avoid letting DD1 play with anything that DD2 can't have (e.g. due to small parts) unless DD2 is asleep. They play best with stuff that is really baby toys - DD2 has got a VTech ride on alphabet train and they will play nicely together with that for ages, but put an 'older' toy like a Barbie or crayons into the mix and it's just endless hassle with DD1 grabbing 'her' things from DD2 and shouting at her. I think DD1 quite enjoys feeling like she's helping DD2 to play - and it's just easier not to have to keep rescuing DD1's precious stuff from DD2's dribbly clutches.

Viviennemary Mon 10-Mar-14 22:07:14

There is no logical answer IMHO. Time will probably improve things. I'd find excuses for them to spend a lot less time together. But I'm all for an easy life.

steppemum Mon 10-Mar-14 22:22:11

It all sounds pretty normal and age appropriate

To help you could try to find something for DN which is 'only for big girls' and put it up on a table so dd can't reach. That worked well for us, but the older stuff has to be inaccessible to younger one.

One thing that works is having 2 of some toys. We had a train set with 2 Thomas' and 2 doll's buggies and so on. Or, introduce the idea of 'turns' with a timer or a sandtimer. It is much easier to understand first dd then dn (or vice verser) than 'no' When we did this we found the first child then played with ti for 10 seconds and then said 'dd's turn' and handed it over. (but 1 may be too small for this just yet)

You will hit a watershed when your dd is between 2 and 3 when the dynamic suddenly shifts and they play together, and it is lovely to see them playing and enjoying sharing etc.

PurplePidjin Mon 10-Mar-14 22:24:58

If it were me, I would just get on and discipline dn. But, my sil would accept that without quibble, as I would if she did the same to my ds.

Is it worth having the argument over?

RubyrooUK Mon 10-Mar-14 22:25:12

I agree it's pretty normal and sounds like my two children, who are three and a half and almost one. Your niece sounds entirely like a normal four year old - a little bit self-obsessed, keen to be centre of attention and controlling. grin

It may be that you would parent your DN differently but I think it is always hard when you aren't at that place yet. It is totally different picking your battles with a baby/young toddler and with an older child. I would have no clue what dealing with a teen is like. So you may find that when your DD is four that she is just the same with younger children. So I'd just try and deal with everything as lightly as you can, because this stage sounds like more of a function of age than anything else.

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