I Want to Know How Other Mothers with Two and Three Year Olds Manage?

Updated on September 27, 2018
J.R. asks from Mount Laurel, NJ
11 answers

I have a two year old girl and a three year old boy. My son is very needy and monopolizes me when his sister is present. He will not let me carry, hold, pet, or play with his sister. He cries and pushes her away and when I explain that his sister needs me just like he does, he gets aggressive to the point that I have to put her down...leaving his sister crying and upset this time. Weekday mornings and evenings (when they go to daycare) things are not so bad, but weekend mornings and weekends in general, this scenario plays over and over, leaving us all tired and burned out.

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answers from Anchorage on

It is important to still spend one on one time with your son, but when he acts like that you can't give in to his demands and aggression or you are teaching him to be aggressive and to push until he gets his way.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

This sort of jealousy and inability to share is pretty typical of kids this age.

The thing that you should look at is "rewarding" him when he gets aggressive. He engages in this behavior (not sure how "aggressive" he is - pushing? Hitting her? Hitting you?) and then your response is to (in his mind) go along with it by putting HER down. That just encourages him to repeat that behavior because it works. It doesn't happen at daycare, either because the object of the jealousy isn't there (you), or because the daycare provider has other ways of redirecting him (you might ask what they notice and what vocabulary they use when a problem develops).

I would try to encourage him to use his words, show him that he gets more of what he wants (you, games, etc.) when he engages in gentle and kind behavior (remark/reinforce good behavior, start to introduce the concept of taking turns (his time with you, her time, then joint time playing the same game), and perhaps the use of a timer ("when this goes off, it's your turn"). If both kids can see that they lose fun when they misbehave, it helps reinforce it to the one who happens to be behaving well at the time you separate the misbehaving one from the scene. It takes time but be consistent in your words and discipline.

And I always recommend finding good books from the children's librarian to address family issue. Sometimes kids relate well to the kid in the story having to sit alone until they stop hitting, you know? Easier than focusing on themselves when they are angry or frustrated.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

When mine were that age, I wasn't carrying or holding them that much so it wasn't an issue. I have some that are back to back, and I kind of dealt with them all together - as a bunch. That kind of did away with jealousy. It wasn't your time vs their time. It was me sitting down with them all together, I would sit on the floor or at their little table, and read to them all, or they would pile on my lap or by my sides or we'd cuddle on the couch, or I'd push them on the swings - together. I wasn't tending to one over the other that much. They were buds, and I was more a caregiver - providing attention to the group as needed. It felt more like I was a daycare teacher honestly. I did the one on one stuff more when dad was around or it was evening and we'd each read them a story or one was napping, then I'd have one on one time with the other if they happened to nod off at different times.

By doing this (I never really thought about it intentionally) we avoided the jealousy.

I only held or carried if one fell down and then it was brief. So my older ones were not thinking Oh mom is busy again with younger sibling ... and getting frustrated.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Separate them as much as possible.
Put one in a playpen to play when the other is out and then switch.
If anyone is having a meltdown they need to go in their room till they are over it.

You might have to compromise by doing less holding for both of them.
Try to get some one on one time with one when Dad is having one on one time with the other - and switch so both parents get some time with both kids.
Leave the kids home with a baby sitter sometime so you and Hubby also get some one on one time together - parents need some grownup time together.

The toddler years are just tough but you'll get through it eventually.

This is a normal stage for a lot of toddlers.
Our son is an only child - he still went through it.
He got jealous when Dad was hugging me.
Son was 3 years old, got very mad and pushed Dad away from me and told him
"My Mommy! Get your own Mommy!".
It was almost funny - but we didn't let son be mean to Daddy.
They soon became best buddies.
He just had that possessiveness that sprang up for awhile and it's not like he had to share me with another child at all.
So there's not always a reason for any clingyness.
It's just a development stage.
They do out grow it sooner or later.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My son was very needy when he was little. You have to not let him get his way when he's having bad behavior. Stick him behind a baby gate or in his room. He will have a fit till he exhausts himself. At some point he will get more mature and will learn that crying and being aggressive does not get him what he wants. If he is aggressive go immediately put him in his "time out spot"...say no hitting (or whatever). Then he can come out after 3 minutes. My son used to have hour long tantrums till he was completely exhausted when he didn't get his way. This was right at age 3! I remember it was SO tiring for me. With some kids maturity takes quite a while.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Myers on

I have the opposite problem going on. I started watching my cousins 2 year old son and 3 year old daughter a few times a week, 10 hours at a time. I try to give them both individual attention and we do things together. The 2 year old is the one who will start hitting or acting out if I'm giving his sister attention. I've been putting him in timeout. He will throw himself on the floor, screaming and crying if he's not getting his way. I let him go for it. He's not hurting himself, hes just tiring himself out.

It's been a challenge and I'm still happy I just had 1 of my own. The fighting between these two alone is tough.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Divide and conquer. You take 1 kid at a time while your husband takes the other. Then trade so both kids get undivided one-on-one time with each parent for at least a little while over the weekend.

Separately, do not reward him by giving him what he wants when he is aggressive. If he becomes aggressive, he should go to time out (in his room or where ever). When you turn your attention to him instead of his sister when he is aggressive, he is learning that acting aggressively will get him what he wants in life - not a lesson you want him to carry with him long-term.

One strategy to try, as soon as he starts to fuss for your attention before he becomes aggressive - Does he know how to read a clock yet? I taught my older one his numbers, and then could tell him "Brother needs me now. I will play with you when the last number on the clock is a 7 (or whatever number was 9 minutes later)." My son was more likely to be wait for my attention if he had a concrete signal of knowing when, exactly, his turn for my attention would come.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Your kids are very close together which makes parenting when they are both young and needy challenging, but the good news is that if you can help them better now, they will be close as they grow up. I wonder if this jealousy is a new thing? Was he more accepting of his sister when she was a baby, but is more upset about her now? Maybe she’s intrusive and he needs ideas for protecting his stuff? Or maybe he’s just having a hard time sharing you? You might want to go back to some books for children who have new babies, like “On Mother’s Lap” by Ann Herbert Scott, or “The New Baby” by Mercer Mayer. He needs to feel better about having a sister. Also help him feel important by letting him help you with small jobs, give him lots of opportunities to feel important and to praise him. Make sure he knows how special he is to you. Try doing activities they both enjoy and give him lots of praise when he helps his sister or shows her how to do something. Help him feel good about being big, but if he wants to pretend to be a baby, play along. Pretend play can be a great way to help him with his feelings.

He needs your understanding and empathy that it is sometimes hard to share or sometimes hard to be a big brother, but also your help to not hit and to use his words. You can support his feelings without supporting the aggressive behavior. Let him know he can be angry but he cannot hit, and move away from him so he cannot hurt you or his sister. Do not put his sister down. Let him know you understand if he doesn’t want you to hold her, but he cannot hurt you, and remind him you will also not let anyone hurt him. Maybe engage in something fun with her, and remind him that he can join you when he can be nice.

I would also strongly recommend the book “Siblings Without Rivalry” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

When you are dealing with children always ask yourself "What am I teaching them?" right now you are teaching him his bad behavior will get him what he wants. You need to stop this right away. Tell him "No" and put him in his room with a baby gate across the door. Tell him he can come out when he decides to behave. Under no circumstances let him out until he behaves.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Have you discussed this with the pediatrician? I think that perhaps you should. Maybe this is in the realm of normal, and maybe it's not. You may need some professional help figuring out how best to help him and still be there for your little girl. She needs her mommy too. If your son has some special needs that you haven't figured out, then you need someone to help you identify it so that you know how to work with it. If it's just behavioral, you need to know that too and come up with a strategy to cope with it.



answers from Atlanta on

Clinginess is a natural reaction to feeling fearful or anxious about something. In young children, clinginess is often a sign of anxiety caused by being separated from a primary caregiver. It is also common for children to exhibit clinginess when things feel unpredictable due to changes occurring in their environment Be responsive to your child’s needs and feelings: Try to identify what might be causing the clinginess

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