Pre-School

making DD understand severity of actions

DD has always been a difficult kid.  More than normal tantrums, defiance, etc.  We've worked with the pediatrician, and saw a counselor who recommended 1-2-3 Magic, which worked for a total of 3 weeks before she just didn't give a crap about time outs.  By week 4, I never started counting without having to get all the way to 3 and then drag a violent child to her room.  I just didn't work for us.  I need to go back to the drawing board and find a new approach, but in the mean time I could use some advice on impressing the severity of certain actions on her.  For example- we were hanging out with 4 month old DD2.  DD2 was in her seat with an activity tray.  I was on the couch, punching in my WW points (literally a 30 second task) and DD1 puts both of her hands on DD2's hand on the tray and puts all of her weight on it.  It wasn't like other times when she would do something like poke DD2's tummy to see what would happen.  It was malicious and calculated to hurt her as much as possible.  I told her to go straight to her room, and am about to go talk to her.  The problem is, if I tell her she could make DD2 have a broken hand and need a cast and go to the hospital, DD1 will think that's cool.  She doesn't understand that those are very bad things.  Casts are cool to kids.  She just doesn't get it.  I feel like when she does get it, she doesn't care.  I'm so frustrated.  I feel like every time I turn around for a second, DD2 starts screaming.  I look up and DD1 is right there.  I watch like a hawk, but I have to blink!  She is so quick!  I never leave them in a room alone.  I'm a mess.  Help me. 

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Re: making DD understand severity of actions

  • I have 2 boys.  Older brother was a merciless bully to little brother starting right around 4-5 months of age.  He would snatch toys, shove brother down, do everything he could to impose his size.  Oh my god, the RAGE I felt when big brother was intentionally doing harm to little bro. 

    I prayed for the time that little bro could defend himself.  It took time.  My kids are only 18 months apart so parity came ealier as the size gap closed fairly quickly.

    I don't have any advice, but I can empathize with that knowledge that you cannot turn your back on your 2 kids for even a minute. 

    I had 'safe zones' where I could leave the baby and answer an email or something with reasonable assurance that all hell wouldn't break loose.  For me, that was a highchair or a crib or even a video.

    Best of luck.  It sucks.

    promised myself I'd retire when I turned gold, and yet here I am
  • Maybe it is time to take her back to the counselor and reevaluate. I dont know what kind of counselor you took her to, but maybe try specifically a behavior counselor.I know it is frustrating & you are probably at your wits end.

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  • You described my DS1. He has always been difficult since 18 mths and he is 4 1/2 now. His behaviors increased after our twins were born 2 yrs ago. He still is difficult and the 123 Magic worked for about 3 wks for us, too. I am at a loss for suggestions but wanted to let you know I feel your pain. I hope someone has some great suggestions! Good luck!

  • image wawa84:
    Maybe it is time to take her back to the counselor and reevaluate. I dont know what kind of counselor you took her to, but maybe try specifically a behavior counselor.I know it is frustrating & you are probably at your wits end.

    I would say this.  Maybe even a developmental pedi to identify any potential issues, particularly since you mentioned problems with severe tantrums as well.

    image
  • I've heard good things about "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk".

    It sounds like she's trying to get your attention any way she can.  I think you need to figure out what her currency is and use that to help get her behavior under control.  I use timeouts sparingly with DD1, but for a serious infraction she loses dessert.  She LOVES dessert.  It's not like she gets anything fancy, but it's her special treat at the end of the day, and she gets very upset if it's taken away.  Usually, just the threat of losing dessert will get her under control.

    You also might want to try giving your older DD some extra special attention.  We went through a rough patch, and DD1 was having some anxiety and having some extra attention from me made a world of difference.

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  • I don't think you can discuss this kind of behavior w/ your DD and I certainly wouldn't tell/ask her to go to TO.  If she pulls this kind of vicious, dangerous thing again, I would immediately pick her up and put her in her room for time out and shut the door.  Other than a very sharp, "NO!" I wouldn't say a word.  That kind of behavior is totally unacceptable and shouldn't get any attention or discussion from Mommy.  Let her freak the F out in her room and then she can rejoin the family when she's ready to behave like a family member.  Which is not to say any time she does anything "questionable" she gets kicked out, but for dangerous things like that - yeah.  Later you can talk about it and explain that she can't hurt her little sister and if she does, she can't play with you guys anymore.

    I'd also set up some "safety" zones for your younger one where older DD can't reach her and set up a few baby-free zones for your older DD and remind her she can go there anytime she wants and the baby can't go there.  And, even you can go there unless she invites you in - like a book corner or something.  And make sure you are giving older DD as much time as you can and praise her for being a good big sister and wow look what you can do b/c you're a big girl, etc., etc.

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  • image wawa84:
    Maybe it is time to take her back to the counselor and reevaluate. I dont know what kind of counselor you took her to, but maybe try specifically a behavior counselor.I know it is frustrating & you are probably at your wits end.

    I would suggest this. DS started biting at daycare when he was angry (speech delayed) and had so many tantrums. You need to get a behavioral therapist.

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  • image Sailor Saturn:

    image wawa84:
    Maybe it is time to take her back to the counselor and reevaluate. I dont know what kind of counselor you took her to, but maybe try specifically a behavior counselor.I know it is frustrating & you are probably at your wits end.

    I would suggest this. DS started biting at daycare when he was angry (speech delayed) and had so many tantrums. You need to get a behavioral therapist.

    This because having no remorse for hurting someone at 4yo is not normal. As for what else to do, as crazy as it sounds you cannot turn your head away for a second and leave her with the ability to hurt the baby. I am not blaming you at all but now you know that there is something serious going on with your Dd and if she is alone with the baby she will hurt her, next time it can be a bag over her head. 
    I am so sorry you are going through this. 
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • I am so sorry you're struggling with this! Your description of your DD1 sounds a lot like my DS1, and it's tough. He's not violent towards DD (more than a usual big brother) or DS2, but he doesn't listen to a thing I say, has mega tantrums, and is very defiant (he has a diagnosed speech delay, but I'm pretty certain there are unrelated behavioral issues too), time outs do NOTHING for him, etc. Yesterday, while I was upstairs getting ready for the day with DS2, DS1 and DD were downstairs and DS1 started a fire in the toaster! I've told him countless times to not play with the toaster, etc. But he showed no fear or remorse for having done it (it wasn't flaming, but the marshmallow he stuffed in it was burning and the lower level was smoky...). I took him to his room for a time out and a discussion on how scary and dangerous that was and he just seemed to tune me out. Then animatedly started talking about fire....

    Anyway OP, I agree with everyone else and that you should talk to your DDs pedi about it and see if they can refer you back to a counselor or to a different one. That's my current plan with the struggles I'm having with DS1.  

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  • image KathrynMD:

    I don't think you can discuss this kind of behavior w/ your DD and I certainly wouldn't tell/ask her to go to TO.  If she pulls this kind of vicious, dangerous thing again, I would immediately pick her up and put her in her room for time out and shut the door.  Other than a very sharp, "NO!" I wouldn't say a word.  That kind of behavior is totally unacceptable and shouldn't get any attention or discussion from Mommy.  Let her freak the F out in her room and then she can rejoin the family when she's ready to behave like a family member.  Which is not to say any time she does anything "questionable" she gets kicked out, but for dangerous things like that - yeah.  Later you can talk about it and explain that she can't hurt her little sister and if she does, she can't play with you guys anymore.

    I'd also set up some "safety" zones for your younger one where older DD can't reach her and set up a few baby-free zones for your older DD and remind her she can go there anytime she wants and the baby can't go there.  And, even you can go there unless she invites you in - like a book corner or something.  And make sure you are giving older DD as much time as you can and praise her for being a good big sister and wow look what you can do b/c you're a big girl, etc., etc.

    I agree with this.  She may be pushing boundaries and trying to get attention any way she can, and you just need to be clear that some things are not OK and are not up for discussion/debate.  No reason to go into hospitals and casts and all that; we don't hurt our friends or family members.  Period.

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  • I'm going to disagree with some of the pps, only based on my own experience.  It started almost right away when I had DD2.  I've seen her push her face into the floor, bite her foot, push her down countless times, steal toys away from her non-stop. NONE of the advice anyone gave me helped - timeouts, explaining why her behavior was wrong, giving her "extra" and "one-on-one" attention.  I even tried the "I feel _____ when you ______" technique.  All any of it did was make things worse.  Then, a friend said something that really hit me: She's not upset because she's not getting enough attention, she's upset because she's not getting ALL the attention.

    It took a while for me to work it out in my head, but once I figured it out, it worked like a charm:  No more "explaining" for 10 minutes why what she did wasn't nice.  No more asking her "how would you feel if someone did that to you".  No more yelling, no more mad faces.  It finally hit me when I realized that when the baby fell or got hurt by herself, I gave her attention.  But when DD1 did something to make the baby cry, I quick made sure the baby was ok and then spent the next 10 minutes paying attention to DD1!  It didn't matter what KIND of attention I was giving her, as long as she was getting attention.  So I stopped.

    When DD1 pushed the baby down, I swooped the baby up, firmly told DD1 that wasn't nice/not ok/we don't hurt each other, then walked out of the room with the baby and held her & made a fuss over her.  When DD1 was taking toys away from the baby, I picked the baby up, quickly told DD she wasn't playing nicely, and took the baby in the other room & played with her.  DD1 soon realized that making her sister cry wasn't getting her attention anymore, and it REALLY cut down on her doing mean things to her sister.  I also made sure that when she WAS playing nicely, reading to her sister, doing itsy bitsy spider with her, etc., that I DID give her attention & complimented her on how nicely she was playing, what a good big sister she was, etc.  It made a huge difference.  I also stopped acting upset when she did mean things.  It was really hard, because I was so mad that she was picking on her innocent, tiny little sister for no reason, but I held it together because I knew that part of the reason she did it was to get a reaction out of me.  No reaction, no attention = no bullying.  The more mean things she did to her sister, the more attention I gave her sister.  I took away her power, so she stopped doing it.  Well, she still does it once in a while, but I consider that normal sibling rivalry and not the major problem it once was.

    I will put one caveat and say that my daughter DID show some remorse for hurting her sister, and she was loving & kind to her sometimes, too.  If you think your older one has no remorse at all for hurting someone else, then I would definitely see another counselor, because that is a serious problem.  But if you think she's just doing it for attention & don't know how to stop it, give it a try.  It took all I had not to discipline her for it.  I felt like I was being a bad mom for not correcting her behavior.  But when I took away the attention, it was like magic.  Not like 1-2-3 magic, like David Blaine magic =)

    Try it for 2-3 days.  If it doesn't work, you're no worse off.

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