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Eldest child is a nightmare since baby born

(14 Posts)
LPickers Mon 22-Feb-16 13:43:03

My eldest daughter's (aged 3) behaviour has been awful since we've had our new baby, now aged 4 months. I know this is the normal jealous attention-seeking behaviour that happens after an addition to the family, but I'm doing everything we've been told to do - praising her, spending time one-on-one, distracting her, etc. Nothing seems to be working. She is really good with the baby but naughty with me.

She seems to purposefully seek out behaviours that she knows she is not allowed to do and then repeats them over and over again, ignoring anything I say to her. I end up threatening to send her to her room (so her actions are not getting any attention). She then goes to her room for 5 mins. But she'll often come down then just do something else naughty.

-Banging into me repeatedly when I'm eating / have hot drinks;
-Climbing over the sofa;
-Manic, extremely loud shouting and arm waving close to me/baby;
- Pushing her face up close to mine and shouting/laughing aggressively;
- Standing hard on my feet.

Some days this type of behaviour continues all day (one type of action followed by another). I am really good at spending time with her and praising, but I must admit that I can't always think of things to distract her. Can anyone help? Thank you.

Fugghetaboutit Mon 22-Feb-16 13:58:29

Does she go to nursery at all?

FrancisdeSales Mon 22-Feb-16 14:12:04

Unfortunately this is classic case of getting mum's attention by any means necessary. To her getting your attention from negative behaviour is worth it so long as she remains your focus.

I would first say that four months is still very recent and her behaviour is not unusual at all. I would really work at really looking for and praising to the max all positive behaviour. Try your very best to ignore all behaviour you don't want to see repeated or be very boring in your reaction to it. Try to stay unemotional and disengaged when she is misbehaving. You could try a wall chart which rewards all behaviour you want to see more of. The rewards should come quickly, i.e. daily and be spent with you doing something she loves.

What about books on CD that you can play while she is playing or getting ready for bed? It helps distract her and focus on something fun. I had three and when I had a new baby I would take the older ones to soft play a lot to burn off energy. Try and get out so she can play somewhere (park, soft play) every day.

A new sibling does really mean a new family and is a huge adjustment for everyone

FrancisdeSales Mon 22-Feb-16 14:13:23

Yes nursery would be a great idea.

LPickers Mon 22-Feb-16 14:25:57

Hi, Thank you for your advice. :-)

She goes to Pre-school two and a half days a week.

I will try some of the tips you have provided. I am probably not too good at ignoring the behaviour, but the bits I find the hardest are when its difficult to ignore because it's aggressive or verging on dangerous.

What distraction techniques do you use?

TwigTheWonderKid Mon 22-Feb-16 14:39:41

My son was about the same age as your daughter when his brother was born. Luckily, he'd been a very early talker and was always very good at articulating his feelings so I think we had a little less of this typical new baby acting out behaviour. We did still have some violent outbursts but the worst thing I remember was one heart-breaking evening when he shouted at me "You're not my mummy any more" and like you I'd also been doing "all the right things".

Rather than labelling her behaviour as attention seeking it may help you to think that your daughter is having trouble dealing with some really big feelings which will be making her very anxious and she is naturally (and very effectively!) testing your love for her. At three you can talk to her about this, or maybe get her to draw a picture to show how she is feeling. Of course you need to tell her she cannot do dangerous things but combining this with telling her you love her will really help her.

I think the praising thing is over rated because there's an element it that it's a bit fake and I think even young children get that and so it totally undermines what you're trying to achieve.

If all else fails, remember "This too shall pass" (in about 18 years grin)

estya Mon 22-Feb-16 14:44:13

When we had this problem I used to remove DD from the room - I wanted her to learn that we wouldn't want to play with her if she wasn't being nice. However it just made things worse. She felt like she'd lost me when i had a second child and when I removed her she was losing me all over again. She was playing up to get attention back (as Francis says above, even negative attention is enough).
When you want to remove her, stay with her. Have it as time she needs to calm down, or be angry in a safe place, whatever she needs, but don't let her feel that she is abandoned.

You need to rebuild her self esteem. Give her spells of total, undivided attention and let her lead what she wants to do and you just do it.
We used to have secret cake sessions together that the baby wasn't invited to, special songs about how much i loved her. Tell her stories of how she was born and what happened in the early days and happy you were etc. It kind of sounds like you are doing this stuff already, though.
And try to ignore the bad stuff or deal with it in a non-judgemental way "that's annoying me, I need you to stop". She isn't going to turn into a bad person because for a couple of months you don't turn the bad behaviour into a learning opportunity.

Bin85 Mon 22-Feb-16 14:51:06

It will get easier as baby gets more interesting
Someone once equated it to me as similar to your husband arriving home with a new wife and expecting you to accept her and live amicably with her!
Any children's books that might help her express her feelings?maybe ask at library or look on Amazon ?
Good luck

gandalf456 Mon 22-Feb-16 14:55:41

Yes totally normal. I didn't really find an effective strategy so just had to ride it out. It was easier when it wasn't just me and the baby though so maybe get her out, invite a friend round,send her round a friend's Tec etc

LPickers Mon 22-Feb-16 15:22:53

Good advice TwigtheWonderKid, especially regarding self-esteem. Thanks x

FrancisdeSales Mon 22-Feb-16 18:05:29

There is also a fantastic book about this very issue by Kevin Henkel called "Julius is the baby of the world".

Highly recommended, very funny.

FrancisdeSales Mon 22-Feb-16 18:08:53

Sorry Henkes it has a read aloud on You Tube so check it out.

LPickers Fri 26-Feb-16 18:50:35

Thanks, I will watch that clip FrancisdeSales.

Someone told me about the marble jar idea today - they get marbles added to the jar for good behaviour and marbles taken out for naughty behaviour. When they fill the jar they get a reward.

Sounds good to me. Although I'm not sure if this falls into the same category as unfair and demoralising reward systems where you are basically taking away 'stars'/'points', or whatever, that they legitimately earned. Perhaps the fact that its a jar of marbles makes this concept less visually obvious.

FrancisdeSales Fri 26-Feb-16 19:22:25

I wouldn't wait so long as to fill up a jar, give her immediate rewards for quick feedback and reinforcement.

The author is American so Lily the older sibling who is jealous of the baby is a bit of a madam but it is still very funny. I like how she "spends more time than usual in the uncooperative chair" grin

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