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Simmi 

I have a 3yr old girl & 18mth (non identical) twin boys. The problem is that since my daughter has been in the threenager stage and they, the annoying toddler stage. She's become very hitty, pushy & shouty with them. I know that this doesn't mean she'll grow up to be a violent thug & it's part and parcel of siblings. But I just find it hard as I see them as babies, who are unsteady and a bit small for their age and she's always been 'stocky'. The naughty step has stopped working and she has no remorse. What can I do? Thanks x

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Anonymous 
Hi Simmi, I am no means an expert, merely a parent that has had a similar experience. My 3 year old would behave horribly towards our very young baby and it is indeed heartbreaking, so I can sympathise with you. My initial reaction was always to get cross because I felt powerless to stop her behaviour and felt so upset that she could do such a thing. However, I echo the lady above and would agree they have no capacity for empathy at this age and do not truly recognise the cause and effect of their actions. I used to do time outs, but in the end after my own research I took the opposite approach and did 'time in'. I think it was such a transitional period for her and doing time out and getting cross only sought to reinforce her feelings of feeling second best to the baby. So as hard as it was I would try and understand her behaviour and address her needs too. Of course I would reinforce the whole using 'kind hands' and try and explain what effect her behaviour had I.e. baby upset etc. Just trying to teach compassion. Since then, things have vastly improved with only the occasional frustrated hitting! I think it's important just for them to feel like you're on 'their side' even when it's completely natural to protect the more vulnerable party involved. Again, agreeing with the lady above, it does seem a very slow process and I don't always get it right with my reactions, but we are making some headway! I hope you can take some comfort in knowing that it's normal behaviour others have experienced it. It's truly heartbreaking to watch your children being unkind, but I have to remind myself that at 3 years old they're still learning! Hang in there, I'm sure you're doing all the right things x
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Guest1190 
Hi Simmi I am a cbt therapist and mindful parenting teacher with a background in working with challenging behaviour in young people. Since having my own baby a year ago, I now look after 3 gorgeous and very feisty toddlers. I have had the same issues with hitting, pulling, grabbing and biting at various stages of each childs development. Sharing space, toys and attention is tough for little people when they have no understanding yet of empathy. The connection between their behaviour and other peoples feelings only really begins to click at around 4 years. I find the most effective intervention is role modeling. As the adults in our children's lives, they are watching with minute detail, everything we do. So, for instance, my partner and I will exaggerate sharing by offering each other toys or something we are eating. I offer very high praise for sharing and gentle behaviour and quickly remove the child who is pushing or shouting without offering any further acknowledgement. When we react strongly to negative behaviour it can create a cycle of the child seeking negative attention. By role modeling, the child sees the rewards of positive interaction and learns that kind behaviour reaps positive attention and mean behaviour doesn't. It can be a very frustrating process but it works!
Anonymous 
Hi Simmi, I am no means an expert, merely a parent that has had a similar experience. My 3 year old would behave horribly towards our very young baby and it is indeed heartbreaking, so I can sympathise with you. My initial reaction was always to get cross because I felt powerless to stop her behaviour and felt so upset that she could do such a thing. However, I echo the lady above and would agree they have no capacity for empathy at this age and do not truly recognise the cause and effect of their actions. I used to do time outs, but in the end after my own research I took the opposite approach and did 'time in'. I think it was such a transitional period for her and doing time out and getting cross only sought to reinforce her feelings of feeling second best to the baby. So as hard as it was I would try and understand her behaviour and address her needs too. Of course I would reinforce the whole using 'kind hands' and try and explain what effect her behaviour had I.e. baby upset etc. Just trying to teach compassion. Since then, things have vastly improved with only the occasional frustrated hitting! I think it's important just for them to feel like you're on 'their side' even when it's completely natural to protect the more vulnerable party involved. Again, agreeing with the lady above, it does seem a very slow process and I don't always get it right with my reactions, but we are making some headway! I hope you can take some comfort in knowing that it's normal behaviour others have experienced it. It's truly heartbreaking to watch your children being unkind, but I have to remind myself that at 3 years old they're still learning! Hang in there, I'm sure you're doing all the right things x
Anonymous 
Simmi, have you been around other children with both of yours recently? Often the dynamic between siblings is that they're at war in their own environment, but when transplanted to other settings (eg playgroup, library singalong, friends houses), they're a team. For example, if she's with other kids her age and their respective little siblings, she might feel some ownership over HER little brothers. She may even feel protective of them.

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