12 answers

Big Sister Not Being Nice to Baby

I have a three year old and a one year old. Just recently, my three year old has started being mean to her baby sister. She'll put toys on top of her head, block her off from reaching toys and yesterday I caught her hitting her. My girls aren't exposed to violent behavior and it worries me. My eldest hasn't acted jealous at all until this point. Although, now the baby is more mobile and trying to get involved more in the activities around her. I think I understand what is goin on but how do I punish my three year old without making her feel like the baby is more special than her?

What can I do next?

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We haven't had any of the meanness yet, my kids are almost 5 years and 8 months Try letting her have special MOmmy and Daddy days.Tell her that if she is nice to her sister for a week on Saterday, or whenever one of you have a day off. Have Daddy spend the day with her doing things together, like going to the park, pet store, movies etc.

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Hi there R.. My name is M.. I also have a 3 year old and an 18 month old and let me tell you there is nothing strange about your girls fighting. Mine do the same thing and are not exposed to violent thing either. After rreading alot abou the subject though I can tell you it's totally normal for every single sibling to fight with the others (no matter how many there might be). It is just the way of things...and they will most likely grow out of this phase eventually.
The thing is to do as you've been doing and make them both feel equal. And as hard as it is don't play favorites. I know my littlest one likes to instagate sometimes and causes my oldest to get into trouble. But even though she is still little I still punish her...and who ever is wrong for that matter. I do not believe in hitting by any means...so it's simple...I give who ever is acting up and being fresh a time out. One minute for every year old they are cause anything more then that and they lose the point and forget why they are there. So I would suggest trying that. It works for me and very well might for you too. Good luck and if you need any more advice or to just talk and vent or something feel free to drop me an email.

You need to put her on a time out or how ever you disipline. Tell her when she gets off that if the baby was to hit her the baby would get put on time out. Let her know that you need her help to teach the baby how to be a big girl just like her. Make her feel like she is helping you out with her little sister. As for going back to work. I work from home for Arbonne and I'm very happy. I would love to talk to you more. Email: ____@____.com

We haven't had any of the meanness yet, my kids are almost 5 years and 8 months Try letting her have special MOmmy and Daddy days.Tell her that if she is nice to her sister for a week on Saterday, or whenever one of you have a day off. Have Daddy spend the day with her doing things together, like going to the park, pet store, movies etc.


I've got my second on the way, and am dreading this part! I definitely support time-out for hitting, and lavishing attention on the victim. I wanted to point out one more thing: "catch" your older one being nice. I'm sure there are times when she's nice to her sister, helping her get something, or sharing toys, etc. The minute you see it, heap on the praise. Three year olds are motivated by attention. Nearly all behavior, good or bad, is motivated by it. If being nice to her sister gets her the attention she wants, then that's what she'll do. Of course squabbles and fights will still happen, but she won't just hit her to get to you, and a lot of times that is what's going on. Be matter of fact, kind of bored, when you are putting her in time out. We don't hit, it's not nice, with no yelling or acting upset. Then while she's in time-out, comfort and hold and stroke the little one wher she can see or hear, so she knows who gets attention when she hits. Of course, the little one is going to hit her or throw something at her, probably pretty soon if she hasn't already. Then it's time to reverse roles. Now she gets comforted and stroked, while the little one gets dropped in the playpen for the baby version of time-out. (It qon't have much impact on the baby, but it lets your older daughter see that the rules apply to everyone, not just her.

I am a Pampered Chef consultant. I love my job! If you're interested in how to make money and not have to leave your babies, email me at ____@____.com, and I'll tell you more about it.

There is lots of good advice for you in these responses, but one thing has been over-looked. While your children are working out their place in the world and in the family, there is NO Substitute for BEING THERE. Make sure your daughters are not left alone together. They need to be supervised ALWAYS. If they have the opportunity, they may actually harm eachother and that would be terrible. (My parents were somewhat negligent with my brothers; and they actually DID hurt eachother!) Being matter-of-fact about disciplining is very important too; as is making sure that Both children know you love each of them.
Good Luck!

I sgree with Clara on a few points- spending one on one time with your older babe will help her get some of the attention she is seeking. Also, guiding her hand to rub sister gently helps her to learn HOW to touch her- many tots don't really know how hard they are hitting and that it hurts. Here's a few more tips- when things happen, always attend the victim first. Any attention your older child is seeking will be diverted to her sister, and make it big. You are modeling and teaching empathy here- "Oh, are you ok? That hurts, doesn't it? It made you so sad when sister hit you!" You're teaching both children about how they are feeling. Then, have your older child help the younger one to feel better by asking if she's ok, and getting her an ice pack, band aid, or comfort item. Avoid making her say she's sorry- she's not yet, and she doesn't know why she should be. Also, sorry becomes the cure all after a while. "I can hit as long as I say sorry after." Right after, let your older child know that we don't hit- be calm but firm. Explain that it hurts, and that you won't let anyone hit her to keep her safe, and you can't let her hit her sister. Help her find alternatives when she's angry, like seeking you out for help, throwing scarves or cotton balls, or finding a time-out spot herself. This is where I disagree about time out- it is appropriate to help a child to learn that when things get crazy, and little one is losing control, it's ok to seek an alone place. A soft, cozy space with a blanket or bear, so your daughter can learn to gather herself back together again. Just punishing her and making her sit somewhere ignored won't teach her that she should walk away from heated situations before she loses control. It's a lifelong skill best learned now. Kids this age don't know mean- she's just figuring out her place in the world and your family. If you'd like some sharing strategies, just ask. I'd be happy to share!

Give yor older daughter a little mommy me time she is just a little jealous and needs reassurance

My advise to you is to tell her like it is. "THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR" and "WE DO NOT BEHAVE THAT WAY." That worked for me and my sister who has 3 kids with one more on the way. It's hard, but you have to put your foot down from the beginning or it will just esculate. Give one warning when you see her act out then give her a 3 min. time out away from "entertainment" or activities. Make sure that she knows that there are consequeses and that you ALWAYS follow through, AND dad supports you. It's hard at first, but they understand right from wrong at 3 yrs. so don't beat yourself up. After the first week she will know that there is NO beating up on the baby and you shouldn't need to give her a warning, just straight to timeout she knows what she did wrong. Again...she knows right from wrong. Just make sure that you tell her that there will no longer be warnings before you begin this so it is not unexpected. She is older and has responsiblities to teach her sister good from bad. Remember your raiseing adults that you want to succeed and be respectful towards you and others. After the timeout... make her say sorry to her sister and give her little sis a kiss and 5 second hug.

I hope this helps or gives you some ideas.


I do not have kids (yet - expecting in three weeks) but here is my gut instinct.

It seems your older child is trying to maintain some level of control or dominance. We all have a natural tendency to be "violent" - a child hits or bites before they see any violence in tv.

I think early sibling jealousy can be expected and it seems that it is now that your older child is picking this time to express it.

Perhaps be very firm with your older child and tell her why this is not right. Also, perhaps encourage your older child to be the "mentor" to the younger. Instead of her feeling jealous, she can feel like she can teach your younger kid. But then be very firm that if she acts up again and is not supportive of her younger sibling, she will be punished.

Hi! I have the same age difference in my two. Sometmes I feel they fight for attention. My oldest did, and she was disciplined for it. I used time outs and tried to explain why hitting isn't nice. Didn't always work, but she understands that hitting hurts. However I made sure there was time for Mommy and her. If possible I would take the oldest and do something, like color or play a game with her, while her sister played near by. They will still have their battles with one another, The youngest wants to copy the oldest etc. I just try and let them sort it out, if they don't I step in and try to get them both involved in an activity they can do together. Good Luck, hope this helps a bit.

I have 2 little boys who are 1 and 3. I understand how you feel I hate being the bad guy. I know it's hard but timeouts really do work.
I use the wall in the Dining room. I only make my older one sit at it for 3 minutes. The first time you do it try two minutes and bend down to your daughters level and tell her that she is being punished because hitting is not a good thing to do. Then when the 2 minutes is up go over and tell her you love her then maybe explain an appropriate way to express anger. Like coming to you or your husband and explaining that she is upset about something or set up a quiet place that only she can go by herself to cool down.
These ideas have worked wonders for me and we now live in almost (He's 3 he forgets) a hit free household. Just remember when you feel like the bad guy wouldn't you feel worse if you din't punish her and she really hurt her little sister. It gets easier.

Welcome to the joys of parenting multiple children. I have only one, but I am the oldest of seven, which is a direct cause to the fact that I have only one.
I learned these tricks from watching mom do them. Spend special time with just your older child, maybe while the younger one naps. Encourage your daughter to use her words instead of her hands. If/when she does hit, have her rub her sister's arm, while telling your older daughter to use gentle hands. And last, put her in timeout when she hits or otherwise hurts her sister. I know that you don't want to punish her and make her think that the baby is more important. However she does need to learn that she can't hit, and that her actions have consequences. She can sit in timeout 1 minute for each year old, +/- one minute, so 2-4 minutes for a 3 year old.

Timeout should be some place where she won't have toys or anything to play with,and no attention from mom or dad. My parents used the steps to the basement. When I babsyit for either of my neighbors, I use the refrigerator. The kids can sit there, and I can see them, but I'm not engaged with them. Some parents have little chairs that they have sit in corners, either facing the wall or facing the room.

Good luck. It's a hard row to hoe, but I'm sure you can do it. Hang in there. And remember, a child telling you she hates you, or doesn't like you anymore means that you are doing your job as a parent. As I tell my son, I am not here to be your friend, I am here to be your parent, and if you can't control yourslef, I will have to help you.

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