De-Escalation

To update you on a couple of loose threads:

She has not yet worn the underpants to day care. Several of you pointed out that the key thing will be the teachers’ reaction, and I think that’s right. And I know the teachers there will back up any girl’s right to wear train undies, no special request required. She just hasn’t chosen those on a day care day. Yet.

A head-in-the-sand approach is proving similarly effective with the baby squishing problem. I realized the other day (probably as a direct result of listing, in that post, all of the contortions that A and I have done in response to this behavior) that our response has been escalating as it’s gone on, and that the goal of our response has been: Make it stop.

Not a bad goal, in theory, when the baby’s rib cage is in constant danger of being crushed. But everything we’ve done with that end in mind has failed.

So now I’m looking at it this way: for whatever incomprehensible almost-three-year-old older-sister reason, Ingrid is sometimes just not able to control the impulse (desire?) to squeeze the bejeesus out of her baby sister. She is not going to stop it. She is not going to explain to us why she is doing it. So instead of getting our blood pressure all out of whack trying to get her to cut it out, we should be aiming to (1) make sure Ingrid knows it is not ok with us when she does it and (2) keep Iris safe.

So now Iris has a lot of play time in the crib, which she seems to love (she plays peekaboo with us through the bars and laughs her head off) and which keeps her away from the squish monster. When the two of them are close together and Ingrid begins to lose her gentleness, I say We don’t do that, separate them, and ignore Ingrid in sort of a low-key way. No punishment, no long explanation, and no extra attention.

Is it working? I don’t know. Iris is still alive, and I am less hoarse.

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4 thoughts on “De-Escalation

  1. We have this problem too. In “Siblings Without Rivalry” they recommend when one of your kids hurts another, focus your attention on the one who’s been hurt so you’re not giving attention to the hurter. So we pick up the baby and make a big deal of saying things like, “Oh, poor baby brother, I bet that hurt when A sat on your head/knocked you over/pinched you!” I don’t know if it works in terms of stopping the behavior but it certainly has cut down on how much we yell at poor A, who (as you said) probably just can’t control herself.

  2. We have this problem too. In “Siblings Without Rivalry” they recommend when one of your kids hurts another, focus your attention on the one who’s been hurt so you’re not giving attention to the hurter. So we pick up the baby and make a big deal of saying things like, “Oh, poor baby brother, I bet that hurt when A sat on your head/knocked you over/pinched you!” I don’t know if it works in terms of stopping the behavior but it certainly has cut down on how much we yell at poor A, who (as you said) probably just can’t control herself.

  3. This is kind of similar to what we do, and like Melissa said, we also use the approach of focusing our attention and concern on the one being hurt. In our family, if a boy wants to come back and play with the one who he hurt, he needs to try to make amends, in an age appropriate way, of course. Right now, that means asking if his brother is OK, offering a hug, apologizing, or something like that. Often, I’ll make a suggestion, but they’re starting to do it on their own, and the victim is starting to require it (not yet an option with a baby, of course). Sometimes a power struggle comes out of kids repeatedly not being able to control impulses, and then also not having ways to recover from failing to control that impulse. It sound strange, maybe, but it seems like if they have better tools to come back into harmony with us, the impulse control gets better too. I think your ideas about goals are brilliant.

  4. Ingrid sounds a lot like Jamie. Ignoring is the thing that works best too.

    We only have the one, but focusing on the “harmed” sounds like a good plan to me!

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