Feb 28, 2010

A call for help

To all the mothers out there: someone help me please!!!! How do I teach my oldest child to be soft and gentle to the baby? The phrases:
"Be soft"
"Don't squeeze"
"Don't smash her hand"
"Please get off her arm"
"Don't lay on her stomach"
"Just hold her hand don't squeeze it"
"Get off your sister"
are getting old and worn out around our house and I am at my whits end of knowing what to do. It is like I can't even lay the baby down on the floor without her being malled to death by small fry. She has this thing about squeezing the babies hand and holding it against her (small fry's) eye. She knows the difference between soft and not soft because she can show me how to hold her hand soft. At other times she just hovers over her with her little jaw clenched and holds on to her hand or arm and won't let go. I don't think she is trying to hurt her I just don't know how to teach her that the baby doesn't want to have her on top of her all the time. I tell her that she has to be gentle or she won't get to play with her sister but then that means that I have to put the baby up on the counter in the bouncy seat and the poor girl would like to roll around once in a while. I am just waiting for the day when my little pumpkin is old enough to reach up and sock small fry in the nose and hopefully that will teach her. So what do I do? I know my baby is more resiliant than I give her credit for but do I monitor small fry's every move, do I lay off and wait until the baby is crying before I step in? Someone has to have been here before. How do I teach her how to play properly around the baby?
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  1. I always found that any DON'T phrase never worked with my kids. They only heard the stuff after "Don't". So "don't yell" didn't work but "talk quietly" did. Kids don't have the ability yet to determine the proper behavior based on what is not right. We need to show them what we expect. And repeat.

    "Be soft" is good. "Be gentle" always worked for me. You need to teach her things she CAN do to the baby. I let my son, stroke my daughter's head. I also let him hold her hand. So when she squeezes, just say "Like this" and replace the bad behavior with good. If she squeezes too hard, just show her how to do it gentle.

  2. i have 3 only 40 months apart, so we have had some baby softness issues too. i know it's hard, but don't have the baby on the floor without you being right there. i never let the old kids be ruff, at all. protect that sweet baby! i agree with jan, show her what she can do with the baby and explain, or show, that it hurts to squeeze or hit. small fry will get it as she gets a little older, but now is the time to be really vigilant. if you put some time in right now, she will know how she is suppose to act. KEEP GOING! all kids test their mommas!

  3. Loving this post because I have a three year old little boy with a baby sister coming in April...wondering how that's going to go...

  4. I don't have any kids, but I am in grad school for speech-language pathology and we've learned that children don't learn negation until they're older, so I support the previous posts on concentrating on what she can do! Good luck :)

  5. I have 2 boys that are 16 months apart and we also had this issue when we brought our 2nd bundle home. This will sound a little unorthodox but it worked for us. We took son #1 to the pet store and talked to the manager about holding some of the smaller pets...hamster, mouse, lizard, etc. We allowed son #1 to hold these animals with the manager present of course and showed him exactly how to handle the small animals while using the words, "Be gentle", "Be soft", "Gentle", "Not so rough", etc. It allowed him to put the words and actions together and it clicked. He finally understood the meaning behind the words. We got a lot of criticism from friends and other parents when we came up with this idea. However, son #1 understood when I said, "Be gentle" what that meant.

    You also have to get over an fear you may have of the small animals because if have a furry visitor in the garage as we did this past fall, son #1 was happy to catch it and bring it to me to show me "Be gentle and be soft". A little humor goes a LONG way! Hope that helps!

  6. It's just an on going learning. They get so carried away or so who knows what. My daughter said to her 2 yr old daughter oh look at brother (1yr) sitting in your chair. Granddaughters response, yah, oh he's so cute I think I will sit on him. lol. Know that soon, as my grandson is now, the little one will start sticking up for themself. We have all survived older siblings.

  7. It'd be fun to role play with you acting as the baby and she's the big sister or she's the baby and you act as the big sister. Have fun with it.

    Love your blog!! :)

  8. I'm impressed with Mama Brown's idea - it's possible it mite work!

    When this was an issue in our home, I always stressed it was the older sibling's (he/she was the big one) responsibility to watch out for the younger one. Then praises and loves were given...or removal from the situation.

    Also didn't use the contraction of not (for example, don't) but, used positive words "be sure", "remember to", "she/he would like" followed by praise of "Oh, that is so nice", "She/he likes that", "You are so good at that", etc.

    My Major Impact word was STOP! ...used sparingly but required Immediate response!

    All of this is the For What It's Worth Department. Will be waiting to see what works for you.


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