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Almost 3yo rough to the point of dangerous with baby- what can I do???

(49 Posts)
EffieB Fri 27-May-11 15:09:07

DS (3 in august) is appallingly rough with 7 month baby. Is generally quite a rough and tumble child, so initially I put it down to that and tried not to overeact, thinking it'd get better with time. But have realised he knows exactly how to interact with cats/ dogs we meet (gently) so it isn't just overenthusiasm.

'Strokes' turn in to pinches, 'pats' turn in to a hit etc.. etc.. today he was playing with toys and baby was minding their own business other side of room (not getting masses of attention I don't think) and before I could blink an eye what seemed like an innocent enough interaction turned into a pinch (whole handful his hand pinching as much baby as could get in it), scratched their face and roughly pushed them over (was trying to kick them but got in and grabbed leg). If baby is lying down will whizz over and kneel on arm, or try and ram a vehicle into baby's head.

I've tried not overreacting, praising good behaviour, being tough on bad behaviour.

I think DP and I are wusses when it comes to disciplining, I'm starting to think this kind of behaviour should be treated REALLY seriously. DP thinks it is 'normal' that baby will get some bashes, but this is over and above 'normal' baby bashing by older sibling, isn't it?? I never leave them together- baby and DS- but DP does, and I'm starting to get sick with worry about baby getting seriously hurt.

What can I do make some inroads in to this??? It's really affecting how I feel about DS.

MumblingRagDoll Fri 27-May-11 17:23:00

What do you do/say when he does this type of thing?

When my DD did similar...though not as bad by the sound of it...I wuld say "No....don't hurt the baby...you must say sorry now" in a firm voice...if DD didn't apologise or did it agin then she was removed from the room for around one minute....I just popped her in the hallway and pulled the door partly closed....it worked for us.

And you need to tell DH not to leave them alone...ever...not till' DS is able to grasp how delicate a baby is...

jezebelle Fri 27-May-11 17:30:52

I think you need to be really firm and any rough behaviour should be met with a stern 'NO' and remove him from baby. Its not just 'going to get better' because 3 yr old isn't being shown how to behave, only you can do that.

EffieB Fri 27-May-11 18:56:47

DP thinks I'm overreacting and that DS can pick up on my feelings (don't agree with former but think latter is true) and that DS needs to feel 'trusted' and the way to do this is to leave them in room together...

Re. what I've been doing, I've been removing him (most of time) saying firm 'no' too, do think though I'm more screechy and shouty than it is helpful to be. Increasingly find myself asking DS 'why would you bite/ kick/ scratch/pinch baby?' in heading towards hysterical voice.

DP does a job where he is unpredictably available, sometimes working from home, sometimes away. DS adores DP, much closer to him than me (sadly). Feel sometimes like hurting baby is way to get reaction out of me, but can't see how to do things differently at min... Baby spends most of time in v. close proximity to me for safety. Can see how that might wind DS up...

MumblingRagDoll Fri 27-May-11 19:19:09

Could you ask DS to do some small tasks to help the baby? Putting some trust in him may help...he could help put his socks or shoes on?

EffieB Fri 27-May-11 20:10:38

poss ragdoll- sorry typing one handed- I've definately lost trust in him. What else could I do- I've really hit a brick wall

ilovemountains Fri 27-May-11 20:15:11

How about occasional use of a play pen to keep the baby safe when you are on and out of the room? In addition to consistent time out for handling the baby.

MumblingRagDoll Fri 27-May-11 20:16:22

Get him to put the baby's food in his dish...or to help feed him....you will of course be tense....but try to relax...if DS DOES whack the baby....it would be quite unusualfor a three year old to really damage him....a pedeatrician once told me that it's actually very hard to damage a baby grinthey're very tough....

YouCantTeuchThis Fri 27-May-11 20:23:21

I was in same position - DS (3 at the time) punched DS2 in the head at 10 days old. He is mostly very loving but he could see that the behaviour attracted attention (albeit negative).

The only thing that worked was - when an incident occurred - removing DS1 with as little interaction as possible (literally lifting him out of reach of baby) and fussing over DS2 - "oh poor DS2, DS1 pinched your toes again! I don't think he meant to hurt you baby. There, there, poor baby!" You really need to overplay the attention the baby gets every time DS1 hurts him!

The other side of the coin is really praising whenever he is gentle, or doing something by himself and showing no interest in the baby - that often means creating opportunities for him like those mentioned above, but also scenarios which have nothing to do with the baby.

I promise it only took less than a week of trying this way before we saw a difference! They fight again, now they are closer matched physically!

mousymouse Fri 27-May-11 20:28:56

one thing you can say to your dh: a 2-3 year old can never be trusted with a baby. even if he isn*t malicious he will be probing i.e. "what happens if I put my finger in baby's mouth.
your son's behaviour sounds similar to a boy I used to look after as a nanny. the boy was just 3 when I started, the baby was 3 months. I could never ever leave the two alone. I even took the baby to the toilet with me, otherwise the boy would have really hurt baby, sitting on baby's chest was on of his favourites.
what helped a little was giving the boy a lot of excercise, at least 2 hours a day wildly running around, and some one-two-one time, like reading books and story telling.
in the end he turned out to have add.
can you get a sling? maybe having baby close to you but on your back will help you beeing close to your ds with baby out of the danger zone?

EffieB Fri 27-May-11 20:38:51

Thankyou all for suggestions and thoughts.

Ragdoll the feeding is a good idea, will definately feel a 'big boy' doing that.

I'm certain he could hurt baby though, is a child who runs/jumps/climbs/throws/shouts etc.. all the time. Has piled all pillows on to baby, has belly flopped onto baby, has attempted to kick baby off the bed, has bitten head and foot of baby, takes baby's head a pulls it... the list goes on.

mountains time out hasn't been consistent, I've taked to DP about this today

Youcan'tTeuchthis you sound like you've been through similar- I think I am making the mistake of DS hurting baby producing a big reaction from me.

Mousy sling is a good idea, I've not used it for a while I'll try again.

I'm frightened DS will really hurt the baby and I'll know I should have done more.

Madlizzy Fri 27-May-11 20:43:26

I'll second a playpen for the baby so they're safe, and also second consistent time out if he does hurt the baby.

EffieB Fri 27-May-11 20:49:02

Re. playpen surely he'd just reach in and hit baby?

vigglewiggle Fri 27-May-11 20:50:17

Regarding the trust thing (and probably for a time when things are a bit more stable) a strategy that worked for me was to do a bit of watching through the crack in the door.

DD1 thought she was being trusted, but if things got out of hand I could intervene.

It is a normal reaction to the upheaval, but he does sound a bit over-zealous. I think a very consistent and more stern approach is the way forward.

YouCantTeuchThis Fri 27-May-11 20:52:34

I would make out like baby had to go in the pen because they were not allowed to play with DS 'big boy' toys - the baby won't be offended yet! Play down any risks from DS1 and certainly play down the fact that he has the power to upset you or the baby.

If you can manage to have the baby physically close, whilst almost feigning disinterest, implying that DS1 'big boy' stuff is more interesting/dangerous/fun then you will point him back in the direction of trying to get attention for himself, rather than using the baby as a prop.

ilovemountains Fri 27-May-11 20:57:57

Play pens can be quite big! Alternatively, travel cots can be used, which don't have bars which can be reached through.

seeker Fri 27-May-11 21:02:10

And if the baby at any point bonks the big boy with a toy then make sure you tell the baby off too.

Playpen's a good idea so that once the baby is more mobile it will be possible for big boy to play undisturbed by crawling destroyer.

What I found REALLY helped with my dd was to make sure she realized that I found her little brother a pain in the neck sometimes too. "Oh, no, listen to that noisy baby. Just hang on a minute - I'll feed him then he'll be quiet and then we can do something more interesting" T

harecare Fri 27-May-11 21:19:15

EffieB, do you really think that all you've described means he can be trusted alone with the baby? Good grief! It sounds like you are bending over backwards to make DS1 not feel jealous at the detriment of the baby.
Belly flopping???
You cannot trust DS1 with the baby, and at 3 he should be able to learn that it is his behaviour that will win trust. He probably doesn't need to feel that you "trust" him, he just needs to understand that his Mother will not tolerate or allow certain behaviours towards his baby brother. He may not even be dong it out of spite, just to see what happens.
Praise the good, but DO NOT ALLOW the bad. How did it get to the point where he was piling cushions on top of the baby?

The baby is not a toy to bounce on and play with. Get DS1 out to the park or toddlers so he can run off energy and baby is safe in your arms, on floor with other babies, in pram, anywhere but within kicking, biting, flopping piling range of DS1. Save your housework for when baby is asleep so there is no need to allow them alone together.
By the way, your DS sounds entirely normal and I'm sure my DD1 would have done the same to DD2 if I'd allowed it, but I didn't (except for the time I left the room and DD2 ended up with a pillow over her face at 3 weeks old!!! Didn't do that again in a hurry).

fifitot Fri 27-May-11 21:23:54

I had similar problems for a while when DS born. Agree that giving the attention to the baby when they've been pinched or hit or whatever is the best way forward. Tell your DS1 'No' but then cuddle the baby and say 'poor you , did he hurt you blah blah' sort of thing.

Don't leave them along together.

It will get better I'm sure. I felt despair like you but now DD loves her little brother - most of the time but she still needs watching from time to time when jealousy gets the better of her.

Selks Fri 27-May-11 21:31:37

OP you really need to address the issue that you and your parter are approaching this in two opposing ways, which will give your DS mixed messages and make any measures you take ineffectual. You and DP need to be using the same approach in all aspects of parenting, now and further on down the line.

libbyssister Fri 27-May-11 21:48:56

I have the same problem with DS2 (nearly 3) and DS3 (10 months). I could've written your post. When DS3 was only a few weeks old, DS2 would scratch his head hard enough to leave red marks, bite his head, again hard enough to leave a mark and once breaking the skin. This led on to him giving him 'cuddles' but squeezing hard with a scrunched up face, biting his fingers and toes, laying on him, kicking him, all very much like your situation.

It got better for a while but was always a problem if DS2 was tired or out of sorts. I just couldn't leave them alone together or even leave DS3 in the bouncy chair on the floor, he always had to be raised up away from DS2 and even then I worried he'd pull the chair off the counter or table.

We have consistently said no and taken him out of the room when it happens, we then also given DS3 A LOT of very obvious cuddles and sympathy. These actions have never stopped him doing it tho sad. In the early days it was awfully upsetting for the baby and me! It made me cry seeing wounds and welts on the baby. And it was all so unexpected because DS1 had always been so gentle and then we were faced with a situation we'd never had to deal with before.

I really feel for you but I haven't got any great advice, we haven't found any particular solution or strategy that works.

One word of warning, DS2's behaviour has got bad again since DS3 started crawling and pulling himself up onto things. DS3 will crawl up to DS2's toys and pick them up and his brother's reaction is to shove him, push him backwards if sitting, or snatch the toy back and hit him with it. He also tries to lift DS3 up by his head/neck to get him away from his stuff. If DS3 pulls himself up to standing by the sofa he is often kicked or shoved off by DS2. Just writing this is making me teary sad It's horrible to admit but DS3 has started to flinch when DS2 comes near and doesn't with DS1.

I just stay on my guard permanently (draining) and hope that this too will pass...

On a positive note, DS2 always gives his brother a kiss goodnight and strokes his head and can at times be gentle with him. And I hold on to the times when DS3 is smiling and giggling at DS2 doing something funny.

ceebeegeebies Fri 27-May-11 21:59:30

I had the same problem with DS1 who was 2.4 when DS2 was born - whilst he seemed to totally adore DS2, he was very aggressive with him at the same time (biting, hitting, throwing things etc).

In the early days, DS2 spent a lot of time in a travel cot (aka a playpen) and I did not leave them alone together ever.

The other tactic we used was a system that I read about using smarties...DS1 had a 'good' cup and a 'bad' cup. At the start of the day, each cup had a few smarties in. Everytime he did something good/was nice to DS2, a smartie moved from the 'bad' to the 'good' cup and every time he hurt DS2 or did something naughty, it was vice versa. He got to eat all the smarties in the 'good' cup before bed every night. He totally got it and we used it to modify his behaviour...we still use it now if his behaviour starts to get out of hand again and he needs reminding how to behave wink

The other thing that helped was DS1 being in nursery 4 days - god, me and DS2 needed that break.

Now DS1 is nearly 5 and DS2 is 2.5, they still seem the same. Totally worship each other but wind each up at the same time. They wrestle a lot (with DS2 giving as much as he gets) although this does usually end up with DS2 in tears hmm

vigglewiggle Fri 27-May-11 22:20:13

How much time does your DS spend at home with you and the baby? Does he go to nursery/ childminder?

EffieB Fri 27-May-11 23:26:42

harecare I feel a bit defensive, I thought I'd been clear that I never leave them alone together- these incidents happen when I'm there and in a flash.

DS goes out everyday, is usually in the garden before 9 a.m. Goes to the childminder 2 days a week

libby I'm DREADING baby being on the move...

Selks you're right about DP and I reacting the same way, I think DS often thinks 'Mummy is horrible to me' because the message isn't backed up by DP

EffieB Fri 27-May-11 23:28:13

viggle it's 3 days a week.

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