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Anne Cawood

Question

Posted by: Candice | 2011-12-12

Q.

Desperate for help, don't know what to do anymore

Hi, I have a daughter who is 2 years and 10 months old, and just had a baby boy 5 weeks ago. I really need your help, my daughter will not listen to me, she hits me and her baby brother all the time, usually on the head, she throws anything and everything, she will do things like pour her cool drink on the floor or throw her food on the floor, she also spits on the floor or sometimes on me and is the biggest tease, she will grab anything she can and run with it, even food I'm trying to cook. She will not leave her brother alone, I have to put him in his cot in the bedroom, because I'm scared for his life. I have tried everything, taking things away, time out, shouting and screaming, I just don't know how to discipline her, what can I do when she is naughty to punish her? Please help me, I'm going crazy, and don't know how to deal with her anymore. Also I'm a housewife, so she stays home with me, but we are sending her to a playschool 3 times a week next year, hoping it will help her behavior.

Expert's Reply

A.

Anne Cawood Anne Cawood
- 2012-01-12

Dear Candice, This is clearly a very unhappy and distressed little girl. You my need to seek professional help in order to find effective skills to contain her. The birth of a sibling is very traumatic for a toddler. She now needs a lot of your calm and focussed attention - which is obviously difficult now that you have a tiny baby. But do try to find time to spend positive time with her. She needs to see that you still have time for her - and that the baby is not a threat to her. But this will take time. At the same time, you need to establish very firm boundaries for her. Do not become harsh or punitive - just firm and very consistent.Ensure that the baby is safe and then be very adamant that hurting people is not acceptable. But you also need to verbalise for her that you can see that she is very angry/upset/sad etc. At this age she is needing help to learn that her feelings are acceptable but that at times her behaviour is not. This is a very important skill for a child to learn. She is too young to be able to tell you how she is feeling - so she is acting out via her behaviour. If she is just punished for this behaviour, she will become even more angry and resentful - and the vicious circle will just continue. I do deal with these issues in my book "Toddlers Need Boundaries" - maybe it will help you to find a copy. Very good luck - hand in there - and remember to have realistic expectations of what a child this age is capable of.


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