How to Handle an Older Sibling Who is Too Rough With a Younger Sibling

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Today’s question comes from Randi and my lovely wife wasn’t here to record it so I’m just going to read the email she sent and then get right to it.

I have a question about empathy and teaching my 3 year old to be gentle with her (almost) 18 month old sister. I feel like I stay pretty calm in most situations, but the thing that really gets me frustrated is when my oldest is rough with my youngest. I am lost in this situation. I do the best I can, stay calm, comfort the one who’s hurt first, talk through what happened without blaming/shaming, and ask her if there’s anything she can do to help her sister feel better. I feel like I’m missing something though. I am at a loss. I feel like she doesn’t care when her sister is hurting or upset. She’ll be happily playing and calm, and then she’ll just throw something at her or hit her suddenly. Or other times, she’s just playing too rough and doesn’t seem bothered at all that her sister is crying and trying to get away from her. I don’t know what to do. I do try to stay calm, but when it happens over and over, I do lose my temper occasionally. I feel like I’m failing sometimes because we’ve been battling this for quite some time. I’m having a hard time figuring out what she needs from me.

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How to Handle an Older Sibling Who is Too Rough With a Young…

by Kevin Geary time to read: 2 min