Any advice...

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Joined: 01/25/02
Posts: 2023
Any advice...

1-3 times a week I watch my cousin's daughter, she turned two in April. She will always be an only child. The only interaction she ever gets with other children is with my kids, so improvements in her being nice and not a bully are so slow. I have been watching her for about 6mo. I will fully admit that Abram can be a bully too, but if I say anything to my cousin about her daughter being aggressive or something, she just says how my niece (who she has seen 1-2 times ever, and is a few months younger than her dd) is a bully, which is true, but irrelevant. Yesterday before my cousin left, Aurora was using her sippy to hit Wyatt, so I said in the sweetest tone, " Aurora, don't hit Wyatt.", Jher mom's response, "Usually she is always nice, unless she is not feeling well." I said nothing, because she does this EVERY SINGLE TIME she is here. And my cousin would have no idea, because Aurora is never around any other kids. Abram has bit her and left bite marks, and that KILLS me, but I do timeouts when he does that, as I do timeout for Rora when she hits and what not. Abram hits and bites out of frustation (still not okay), but Aurora, seriously, I watch her, and she just hits and pushes because she can. It is driving me nuts. She still seems excited to come every time, but I put her in timeout about 3 times in 10 minutes. I thought I would be seeing improvement by now, but its been at least 6mo, and she shares better, but just as aggressive. After the 3rd time out though, she was pushing again, and I asked her if she wanted to sit on the chair again, and she gave me a very clear "no!" (she does not talk a whole lot).

As I was typing all this I heard Wyatt crying around the corner, and then Aurora crying, an when I went in there, Abram had bit her on the back. Yikes! I absolutely hate having to tell her parents that she has a bite mark from my kid. They are all getting really good at giving each other hugs after time out. Abram and Aurora are both more aggressive personalities, so I worry a little less about them, but my Wyatt is so passive, he just gets picked on. Sad

Any idea to help me out?

And to focus on the positive, she has vastly improved with sharing. Before she would hoard toys, like 7 barbie horses in a pile, not playing with them, just guarding them from any one else touching one (My older dd loves horses lol). But now, she will be playing with something, and if Abram asks for it, she will just hand it over. So that is huge really, but I would love to cut out the aggression from both Abram and Aurora.

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025

One technique that often works is to totally ignore the negative, attention demanding behavior of the agressive toddler and focus entirely on the "victim". Praise the victim elaborately. ("My, you are so very brave!" etc etc) You want the aggressive child to yearn for praise too. Then praise even the tiniest improvements as the child attempts to behave acceptably.

With 3 year olds, I think a parent needs to spend a LOT of time running interference, getting down at the child's level. Children need help with learning how to interact constructively with other people. They need a pattern to follow, probably your non verbal model, helping interactions when needed. I don't think punishing them afterwards is the solution yet. At another time you can talk simply about positive ways of behaving too. Maybe use a teddy bear to help show gentle appropriate behavior.

Here's one response to a worried Mom from the web:
Aggression is normal in most toddlers and preschoolers. The most important thing is how you respond to it. And for a child who is showing aggression, it's important to limit his exposure to aggression.
You seem to be doing some good things as parents, but I do want to make some observations and recommendations.
1. Your son should not be exposed to violence and aggression on TV, in movies and videos, or in video games.
2. His exposure to TV in general should be limited to no more than 30 minutes a day.
3. You should not spank or use any kind of physical punishment. Your feeling that spanking is contradictory is exactly right. Furthermore, there is research that strongly suggests that children who are spanked become more aggressive. What tends to happen is that spanking stops behavior (like aggression) immediately, but over hours, days, weeks, or months, aggression increases.
4. Don't deal with aggression with a punitive approach. For instance, giving him a time-out every time he is aggressive might help - but it might not (as you discovered). The problem with punishment for aggressive behavior is that it is very limited in what it teaches. It teaches the behavior that you will respond to and punish. What it does not do is teach approach and desired behavior. To do that, you must add two things to the punishment. First, you have to tell him what behavior you want and perhaps demonstrate it (For example, if he gets angry and hits his brother, you can tell him hitting is wrong and it hurts. But you have to show him a better behavior. You point out that he hit his brother because his brother wouldn't do what he wanted. To deal with this, he should use words with his brother and tell him he is mad and what he wants. Demonstrate this and then have him try it. Second, you have to use praise, attention, and rewards for appropriate behavior (When he tells his brother he is mad and that he wants to play with the toy his brother has, that is worthy of praise because he wasn't aggressive).
5. Be realistic about his ability to control himself. Three-year-olds often don't have great control over their impulses. By teaching him, showing him what's good behavior, and giving him lots of praise for more desired behavior, you are helping him with his controls.

This might help:

Joined: 01/25/02
Posts: 2023

I will work on praising the victim more, that is a good idea.. the other stuff... eh... Aurora is 2.5yrs old, and my twins are not even two, and none of them are verbal enough to expect them to "use their words" Thanks for putting some effort into finding something that may help. I appreciate it. Smile

Joined: 07/27/06
Posts: 722

one thing to keep in the age of 2 its actually developmentally typical to have a hard time with sharing. THe concept of sharing is not really developmentally appropriate until about 3 I think. I think at 2...they are still in the really parallel playing..and that interactive "sharing" comes at 3...this is what I found on the topic:

Two-year-olds enjoy playing alongside other children, but usually keep to themselves. When conflicts arise, adults need to step in to prevent aggression and teach appropriate behaviors. Children this age are beginning to label feelings that they recognize in themselves and others. Controlling emotions is still difficult, however, so frustration may trigger emotional meltdowns. Comfort objects like blankets or teddy bears help two-year-olds cope with new situations or strong emotions.

So it sounds really "age appropriate"...I just think you have to be diligent with helping them to understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Good luck!!

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025

Mama, I like the part that says "teach appropriate behaviors". I think demonstrating an alternative to hitting, biting, etc is required. Change won't happen overnight, but it will sink in if you stick with it!

Joined: 01/25/02
Posts: 2023

Yeah... I know kids don't want to share at most ages, and definitely not at two. lol. I am actually amazed at how well sharing has gone, all three have improved. Honestly, I think the twins are ahead socially in many ways, because they always have someone else to interact with, so sharing they usually do very well, and Aurora has improved vastly in her ability and willingness to share. Its just the aggression that has been my major concern. I guess we'll just keep on keeping on. Smile Good to know its mostly normal. My older two just did not have these problems, since they are very passive like my one twin, so I have not had to deal with aggressive toddlers before. Smile

MrsSchepp's picture
Joined: 12/30/06
Posts: 496

Sounds like you got some good advice. I am totally NOT good at dealing with others people's kids!!

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"MrsSchepp" wrote:

I am totally NOT good at dealing with others people's kids!!

Me too!! It is always awkward and stressful!

I think you're doing all you can. Step in as often as needed so that things don't escalate and be consistent about time-outs.