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3 year old hurting baby and me(19 Posts)
Dd is 3.5 and we have a 4 month old. At the beginning, she seemed a bit jealous but very willing that help but for the last few weeks it’s become a real nightmare and she is physically hurting both him and me and I don’t know what to do anymore.
She bites, hits, pinches, kicks and screams. This morning she has already bitten the baby’s hand and foot (hard, he was crying) and my arm three times - I have bruises. I try to explain calmly, as soon as i can give her one on one time i do, sometimes I shout but nothing works.
My lovely little girl has gone and I’m struggling to enjoy her as we can’t go through morning or afternoon without someone getting hurt. Which makes me feel so guilty. I know she’s doing it for attention and her brother gets hurt when she feels left out but I am at my wits end as at what to do.
I have a 3 month old and a 2.5 year old. The toddler has been going through phases of hitting and biting me from even before baby came along, but they have got worse since.
I don’t have any advice, only sympathy that it’s bloody horrid to witness and be on the receiving end.
I try to explain to my toddler that I understand it’s not easy when I have to look after the baby and I appreciate him being patient. Doesn’t always work, but I think acknowledging his feelings lessens his anger a little bit. He doesn’t talk properly yet, but I imagine with an older, talking child, it’s even more important to discuss it and the impact it has on them.
When he really hurts the baby, I have to walk away (with baby) to defuse the situation. I won’t engage with toddler until I’ve calmed down and he has apologised to his brother. This can take a while!
Other than that, I lavish as much love and attention as I can on my toddler (which isn’t as much as I’d like and isn’t always easy when he’s hit or bit me) and hope this phase shall pass.
She needs attention she’s getting it even if it’s nit positive attention.
When I had my little boy my dd was 19months I made sure that we still had our special time.
With her it was reading a book and having special cuddles.
Try positive reinforcement eg when she kisses baby make a huge deal of it.
I too have a 3.5 yo and 4 mo. DD went though a bit of this at the beginning, and if she's in a bad mood more likely to be deliberately rough.
At 3.5 I'd be much stricter. Explain hurting others is never acceptable, show your bruises and use a stern voice when baby is crying from being hurt and clearly explain if you are hurting people you cannot be around people until you're ready to be gentle, then designate somewhere the spot (thinking spot in our house, corner of dd's bedroom).
If just a little rough, give warnings, but if biting or hitting hard, remove immediately. I don't do it for a fixed amount of time, but will return repeatedly if she gives lip or isn't sorry (she sometimes says "I didn't hit, you did")
Then the positive is catching any behaviour you like, from smiling at the baby, shaking a rattle, stroking etc, and say how much you love to see it.
Obviously the quality time as much as possible, and also where appropriate verbalising when putting dd1 first, e.g. If I'm doing dd's hair and dd2 starts grizzling, I'll say "you have to wait your turn dd2, I'm helping dd1 right now".
Thanks for replies. We are trying to talk through it and I really try to give her positive attention too. I’ve just overheard her telling my dad that she doesn’t mean to be aggressive but she just gets angry when she wants to play with me and I’m with her brother . Doesn’t help that ds is a Velcro baby.
We've had the same issues with my 3 year old and his baby brother. Not biting but lots of playing up end seeking attention. The only thing that's helped is totally love bombing him; lots of 'I love you, you're such a good boy', no time outs, and the absolute minimum shouting you can manage (we still have some
when I'm absolutely fucking knackered but I'm trying to be much calmer).
I liked this article on the subject from the Aha! Parenting site. I have a 9mo and a 3.5yo.
She's 3.5. You can't treat it like an older child who might have deliberate intent.
You need to play down the baby. Distract and pay explicit attention to the toddler. Even while you are tending to the baby. In reality babies do not need as much attention as toddlers. Tie him to you if necessary!
Pay no attention to the biting. No comment or scolding just a quiet removal of teeth. I know, v counter intuitive but she wants attention so don't feed the wrong behaviour!
Really you are going to have to try and forestall the biting with distraction and chat and maybe even some nutella and tv . I also used to put my toddler in the bath and wash baby in the sink. It gave us all a quiet half hour!
I did find it got easier once the baby was moving around and more obviously interesting. 21m gap here.
Sorry op l am going to go against the grain here, l had two 16 months apart and l just would not tolerate unkind behavior to the baby from the toddler.
Of course toddler wanted my attention when l was tending to the baby, but l would just distract her with something ie, can you get the XZXtoys out and line them up for me.
Once or twice she got angry when the baby was able to crawl for her toys, but l told her in no uncertain terms if she did that again, l would remove said toy and I did, it only took once and she got the message but the point is l would have kept my word, and done it 50 times if necessary.
At times she would start to fight to get toys or push baby away, and l would say if you do that again you will go in your crib for 10 minutes, and a couple of times she did and yes she went in her crib, and bellowed, but was told on returning that we are always kind and share, repeat repeat, repeat. She understood .
By the time DD was 2.5 and Ds was 9 months they would play alongside each other in a large playpen amicably.
They have never hurt each other, they are now 10 and 11 and still play together, yes they get frustrated with each other and irritated and disagree but wouldn't dream of hitting each other, one will go off in a huff but thats all, and it is over in a few minutes and they are playing again.
To hit me would be unthinkable, and l am shocked how many people seem to think this is normal acceptable behavior
I would not tolerate any violent behavior from my Dcs even at 2 yrs old.
.* I’ve just overheard her telling my dad that she doesn’t mean to be aggressive but she just gets angry when she wants to play with me and I’m with her brother sad*
That tells you she fully understands she is being horrible and doing something she shouldn't, why would you let it go and not stop it?
Have you tried reward charts? I've found that making a star chart with prizes every 5 or so stars has made way more difference than any amount of telling off. DD still goes intime out if she pushes or hits, but I lavish her with praise and stars for good behaviour and it's made a real difference.
I have a 3.5 year old and a 16 week old baby. My older child has never been violent or agreesive to the baby and I don't know what I would do if he ever was - I would probably explode with anger!
Does your older child go to a nursery or pre-school?
When I first had the baby my other son was home every day for about three weeks and during that time his jealousy was at its peak as he was constantly being told not to do x/y/z because it "might wake the baby". Or he was constantly being told to get away from the baby, leave the baby alone etc and it felt like every day was spent telling him what he could or couldn't do "because of the baby" and he was obviously angry about it.
However, he started pre-school when baby was about 3 weeks old and it improved things massively!! I think because for 3 days a week he could just be himself, run around and shout as loud as he wanted and play all day without being chastised because he might wake/hurt/disturb the baby etc he felt like a person in his own right again and not just somebody whose life was dictated by a baby.
Have you considered removing her when she does it? My eldest went through a phase of hitting (ok, gently tapping but in a clearly aggressive way) my youngest. Every time he did it I would either say "no, I am ignoring you now" and proceeded to ignore him. Or I would put him in a different room (a secured safe room obviously like in his bedroom with the baby gate closed) for a couple of minutes with again an emphasis on this is what happens when you hit. It was very quickly over and now it is very rare for him to be aggressive towards his younger brother (he might push/snatch a toy maybe once a month).
Have heard of the reward charts and i think its something you should also try. There's a lot of positive feedbacks and I thought maybe it can help your dc as well.
Will try reward charts although the way things are going she’ll never get a reward. The aggression is relentless. I do try removing her but she is strong and will throw herself on the floor or against walls - and then blame the bashed head on me. She does go to Creche and has done since she was 1. Doesn’t seem to improve the situation.
I had a similar age gap with baby born just before eldest's 3rd birthday. My eldest was the same. It got better with time!
Whenever the toddler was violent to the baby I would just quietly remove the baby and walk away. That was really the ONLY thing that worked for us.
I spent a lot of time out of the house in situations where I could easily put the baby put of toddler reach without either of them feeling ignored. For example we would take picnics on long walks with toddler walking or on balance bike chatting to me and baby in buggy/sling. I'd try to end up somewhere like a pub/museum with play area for toddler to go and explore or supermarket where we could play in lift/use scanner/buy stickers/have a drink in cafe. By the end of the day she had not had much time/opportunity to be violent or jealous twds baby and it made the evenings a bit easier. I appreciate it's hard to be out at this time of year, (it's bloody cold and miserable) but you are at the stage where you can still do that before the baby becomes mobile.
Also found it helped to meet up with friends who could hold the baby for half an hour or so while I played with toddler. A bonus if those friends had similar age kids to entertain the toddler too.
Anyway, you're probably doing all those things already. Basically it's bloody hard work and I'm sure you're doing a great job. It will get easier!
Reward chart - reward for anything remotely positive to start with. E.g. put your plate in the sink, put shoes on, gave baby gentle cuddle. Reward like crazy. Basically a different type of love-bombing so focus is on her and how amazing and helpful she's being. It's made a world of difference with us. DD was constantly nastily pushing DS over from when he could first sit up, now 9 months later she's much better and is even helping protect him at times. She still bashes into him and snatches off him, but she's so much better when she's had good quality time for herself.
And yes getting out as much as possible helps us. Bundle baby up and got to the park. Go to toddler groups and the museum. Distract distract distract.
Hmm that sounds a bit like my first toddler ninny who was hideous to be honest. He had speech delay. The key was to ensure toddler got attention, consistency and positive praise for every little thing he did right no matter how small.
We did a parenting course when he was 4 - Incredible Years. It helped enormously in giving us tools to manage his behaviour. I am in Ireland but I would be surprised if it is not run in the UK as well.
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