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My nearly 3 y/o dd is a bully.....

My dd will be 3 at the end of June. My ds will be 5 at the beginning of June. Unfortunetly my dd is going through a bully phase w/ my ds. She smacks, hits, punches, throws things at him, hits him w/ things, kicks him... She's out of control & I've never had to deal w/ a situation like this w/ my older 3. I've tried time outs, putting her in her room, taking treats, or toys away, etc. I always tell her that it's unexceptable & that she hurts him, & make her say she's sorry & give him a hug. But she keeps doing it. My poor son is always bruised or scratched up. She's recently started hitting me & her older sibling as well, & throwing things!! ARGH!! Any idea's on how to end this? I don't know where she's even getting the urge to do it from. Her older bro.'s rough house occasionally, but they don't hit each other or throw things like that....

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Asked by HappyEndings at 12:13 PM on Mar. 13, 2013 in General Parenting

Level 18 (6,438 Credits)
Answers (12)
  • Its just a phase, my 3 yr old is doing the very same thing. I keep doing time out and making him say sorry too. It works for a while then he starts back up again.

    Answer by LostSoul88 at 12:14 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • My 3 yr old is somewhat like that. But, my oldest (6) instigates the situation. Then my youngest will get mad and smack, punch, kick. The problem is that she's pretty tough. She doesn't realize her strength or that she's really hurting her sister. Sometimes I worry about her getting upset with a child her age or younger because she could do some real damage. Fortunately, that hasn't happened yet. I just try to remind her not to be so rough.

    Answer by 3libras at 12:18 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • The instant she does it you hold both of her hands to her side and march her off into a corner where you can see her. You tell that when she can be gentle with people she can be with others but she will sit in that spot every time. And stick to it. Even if she has barely gotten out of the chair and does it put her right back. You might also tell you 5 year old to slap her back the next time (quietly so she does not hear) and make sure he knows that this is to startle her out of thinking she can get away with no consequeces (one time deal.).

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:21 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • 3libras I worry that she's gonna do that to another kid too! It's mortifying!! She threw a toy at my son yesterday & busted his lip open. He never hits her back & don't want to encourage him to do it, but I feel so bad for him! Ugh!!

    Comment by HappyEndings (original poster) at 12:27 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • My dd Is the same way (not excessive,y, but she is more physical where my DS will resort to reasoning I stead of hitting). She only does this with her brother. I hate to say it, but I have taken to turning my back when he finally gets the nerve to fight back with her. All it takes is for someone else to be a bigger bully to make one see that they aren't top dog. Mine pretty much inky tries to hit her brother though. They usually get along pretty well for siblings.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 12:35 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • Mie went through that at about three and a half. She didn't have sibs around most of the time, so what I did was just to notreact in any way whatsoever when she elbowed me or tried to push me out of the way. I was immobile as anoak tree. She decided pretty soon that getting nothing, she might as well quit.

    Answer by Ballad at 12:39 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • Good lord! The typos! *excessively* *instead*. *only tries*.

    Stupid autocorrect.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 12:42 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • She gets "the urge to do it" from the strength of her feelings, and her needs/concerns in the moment. Those behaviors express frustration, anger, displeasure, desire & an attempt to make things go her way.

    The strategies you mention ALL focus on trying to discourage/end the problematic behavior, and they ignore the underlying causes.

    Your 2 year old is going to feel these feelings as a natural part of life with siblings (and with parents!) I think it's optimal to approach it as a matter of resources--how TO respond when you feel that way, not punishment for doing this when you feel that way. Since you can't avoid the trigger/cause of the behavior, best work on more acceptable responses & on ways to get her needs met & defend her boundaries that don't violate others.

    I'd respond in a way that models what TO do rather than punishing the behavior. Show understanding for the situation & acknowledge it, then model what you want.

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:42 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • Get involved (your son isn't yet able to manage asserting & defending his personal boundaries on his own) & stay near enough to intervene quickly. Give her a clear physical limit (preventing any hitting, kicking, biting, throwing) rather than relying on verbal instructions (she is too overwhelmed to think well & to control her impulses; this behavior is "lower brain" or emotional reactivity, same as the fight/flight impulse response to threat--which is what it actually IS.) Combine this limit with your caring understanding. The goal is to show understanding for why it's happening, to provide a clear limit that keeps everyone safe (you're also protecting her from the experience of hurting someone, which harms her too), and then to give her an alternative--what TO do. Keep this realistic. (It might just be "Ask for help" when she feels mad/like hitting.) Then "help" by proceeding to negotiate their conflict peaceably.
    That's it!

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:51 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • The times you aren't able to intervene in time, and someone gets hurt, acknowledge what happened & that you're so sorry you didn't get there in time to keep them safe. (Such as if she were to throw a toy & do damage like that.) "I wish I'd gotten here sooner; you both needed help."
    The more YOU can internalize the message that a child behaving this way needs help, the more your reaction & behavior will be a positive model. (Rather than modeling getting upset & reacting in response to something you did not like!)

    "Negotiating their conflict peaceably" may mean staying present to "help" her wait for something she wants. Rather than enforcing taking turns, you can model making requests & honoring the response. Point out how much she wants said item (that her brother has), ask him if he will give it to her (make sure he knows he can say yes or no, honestly), & point out that he's not ready to be done yet. "It's hard to wait but I

    Answer by girlwithC at 1:02 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

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