Monday, November 22, 2010

When timeouts just won't cut it

My 3 year old is pushing the limits of my patience. Please tell me I am not alone. Ever since his baby sister was born he has been a little rough with her. Not so much when she was a tiny baby, but as soon as she could sit up (and be knocked over), I have not been able to leave them in a room together alone. He will tackle her, push her down, trip her, whack her with stuffed animals and I have had it. I would say a good 75% of his timeouts are because of this roughness with his sister. When he actually makes her cry I can tell he feels bad, but I can't seem to get across the seriousness of this behavior to him. Every single time he is rough with her it lands him in timeout. I am consistent to a fault, but I haven't noticed any change in the behavior. I have tried explaining to him calmly and now I'm at a loss of what to do. It is making me so frustrated and upset that I find myself yelling at him, which I am sure is the opposite of what I should do to convince him that loosing your temper and lashing out is not proper behavior. I have tried reinforcing good behavior but I need some advice. Have any of you dealt with older siblings being mean to their younger ones? Any tips or tricks or advice for this mom who is about to duct tape her 3yo's arms to his sides to keep him from using them inappropriately??


  1. Ahh, discipline has to be the hardest part of parenting!

    Timeouts aren't particularly effective for Itty Bit either. He doesn't mind hanging out by himself.

    So instead, when he has a moment of disobedience, he loses a prized toy for awhile. It literally gets put in the "Christmas room" where he is not allowed.

    Sorry - this can be so frustrating!

  2. I know it is not the same but...We got a kitten when my son was 3. that poor cat has put up with every bit of terrifying thing this kid can come up with. I am sure the cat has only a few lives left in him. I kept on my son, tried to instill empathy, time outs never worked, he was right back to being rough. I would say, "It is your job to take care of animals. God put us here to take care of them, it is our job to make sure the cat is safe. if you hurt him, he will not trust you. what do you think when people hurt you? do you think they will hurt you again?" when I took his prized toy away from him, I think he held a grudge against the cat. I was worried about him hurting the cat when I wasnt looking. I don't think he ever did. but the silver lining has been time...he is alomost 5 now and I think he finally gets what permanent injury could do to an animal, he has way more empathy then he did at 3. I guess my only advice is keep on him, figure out what is most important to him to lose, make it is job to make sure his sister is safe, I am sure he wouldnt want someone else hurting his sister, so why would he want to. btw, the cat survived it all with barely a tail pull and is the best cat that a boy could ever want.

  3. I don't have any advice, but I can tell you we're dealing with similar stuff. Not only is there roughness, there is a lot of whining. He doesn't want her touching his stuff, and she is obviously very interested. Let me know if you figure something out!

  4. I could have written this post. OH MY Gosh! My 3 yr old is pushing the limits hard! I don't know what the heck to do any more. I'm like you.... timeout timeout timeout. But then, I start getting frustrated and yell. And that's not cool! I really do think it's just a stage and we have to weather it.

  5. I don't know about what to suggest for immediate punishment, but maybe its an attention thing (especially since he does feel bad when he does it - he knows what he is doing is wrong). I know when Jack came along we made a point of making sure Tommy still had his alone time with mommy or daddy. (Tommy was much younger when Jack was born) Maybe incorporating a date night every other week with either you or Aaron will help?

    We also found that with stuff like this with Tommy it helped to sit down when all the emotions/anger/frustration were gone and talk to him about why he was doing it and what he could do instead. He wasn't always able to clearly say what he was feeling, but I think the conversation itself made him feel a little more like a big boy.

    Now...if you can just remind me of all this when Jack is 3 and we are dealing with him versus the baby!! (In other words, no matter what the age of 3 just SUCKS!!!) but 4 is AWESOME!!

  6. I'm holding Liz to the "4 is awesome" bit because I'm with you right now. T is just starting to really show aggression with her sister, and it's not like she is getting any less attention - my family showers her with way too much attention. I've resorted to taking away toys that she is playing with, and sometime it works, sometimes it doesn't. She's been a pistol lately.

  7. Oy vey. You got some good advice already. I'm sure you're already rewarding good behavior and spending time with him. B is constantly beating the crap out of the baby, I swear it. He tries to lov ehim and then nearly kills him. Or, just the other day I put the baby down to go grab something out of the oven. B took it upon himself to throw his hard rubber baseball at Keaton's head. When I ask him why he does things like this do you know what he says?? "I want to."

    Just keep up being consistent. In our house there is a penalty chore jar. When you break the rule you get a penalty chores like washing walls or something tedious. Grounding from the TV or computer or playing with friends is something else we do.

    At some point Arielle will stand up and just wallop Nate and say - Would you Leave me the hell alone?!

  8. Good luck...I have never had to deal with that, but don't think that my kids are perfect they land themselves in timeout for many of other things. LOL
    Consistency is the best thing for discipline.

  9. Starting to feel the SAME WAY. Which, unfortunately means, I have no sound advice. Aidan is mostly good with Lilah, but the other day, he started throwing pillows on her (it doesn't help that she was laughing!) And then he drives his Mac truck around and whips the trailer, and it hits her. He thinks this is hilarious (and laughs when he hits me too.) But mostly, he lands in timeout for throwing tantrums about his own toys - throwing them or getting mad and not getting over it. ANd timeouts with Aidan are hard, because until I throw him in his room and shut the door, I can't get him to stay in a corner. He's not just crying - he's crawling away, hitting my legs, etc. Ugh!!! I swear, our girls better not be like this!!!

  10. I'm in no position to give parenting've heard about our struggles with our big boy but I think Liz has it right. 3 seems to be a peak for sibling rivalry and your attention become the prize. Time outs do lose their effectiveness at a certain point. I once heard some great advice about being "Consistently Inconsistent" with your punishments (one week it's loss of TV, the other it's loss of a toy, etc.) apparently it keeps the child from adjusting (and numbing out) to the consequences of his actions. I would think about a consequence chart to show him what things CAN happen as a result of inappropriate behavior. You can also include a place for rewards that can be given for excellent behavior.

    Good luck!

    Oh and 4 was better than 3 and 5 was better than 4...every year they outgrow some behavior and add new challenges though. Yay for parenting!!


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