Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Timeliness Politeness
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Subject: HELP me with my 28 month old daughter
Question: I have a 28 month old daughter and she is always hitting her 16 month old brother and biting him he has had a black eye and now has 3 chipped teeth her behavior used to be perfect but now the doc is saying she is regressing they say she is showing signs of autism and fetal alcohol syndrome she doesn’t listen she behaves worse than a 1 year old now her speech is almost gone there is allot of problems going on with her and i cant handle her am i being a bad mom for being more strict or is that what i should be doing i have so many questions about all this but this is a start please help me with these problems
i am having…. Also her father doesn’t see anything wrong with her and completely ignores her when she is doing something she should be doing or hides it from me when she is misbehaving and yells at me for punishing her but he does this in front of her so its like she knows if mommy yells at me daddy yells at her so i can do what ever i want
Answer: Dear Elizabeth:
First of all let me say how sorry I am you are experiencing all this frustration. Being a parent under optimal conditions is very challenging and add onto these responsibilities special needs and challenges just increases the challenge 10 fold. Please learn to be kind to yourself first and foremost. You are not a bad mom and you have come to the right place.
Of course you cannot allow your daughter to hurt her sibling. What I suggest is remove her from the area where her brother is playing when she starts acting out. Please do not punish her. Punishment is a temporary fix and if it was working you would not have contact me.
Your husband is 1/2 right and so are you. You do need to ignore her bad behavior when she is not hurting herself, hurting someone else or destroying something. Ignoring bad behavior will make it cease at some point when she is not getting attention. I am not so sure her behavior is all about her special needs as there is a close age range between her and her brother. She may be after attention and remember children will get their emotional needs met regardless of whether or not it is positive or negative attention.
Maybe she is want more one on one without her brother. Ask yourself if she has her own toys she doesn’t have to share with him. This is very important. Parents want children under the age of 3 to share their toys with siblings and their brains are not wired to share anything. Little children 0-3 play in what is called parallel play. The play besides each other however, they do not like to necessarily play with each other. (Something we as parents mistakenly assume they are capable of much sooner than they have developed.)
If she does try to hurt herself, or someone else or destroy something immediately remove the toy or her from the area and say firmly, “we do not (hit, rip up or whatever the behavior was.) If you have to take her into another room where you can keep her from hurting herself….put her down and remain there for at least 2-3 minutes (no more than 1 minute for each year of her age).
After the time is up bring her back to the room. Remember to keep your tone firm but not disapproving. Keep this behavior up until her behavior changes. NOW, be prepared for her behavior to get WORSE before it gets better. ANYTIME you change how you have been reacting to her she will try her old behavior more and more, however, it will decline. (picture a line which goes up hill then drops off on the otherside.) This is a graph of how we change behavior.
Another suggestion is to go to a counselor or behavioral specialist who deals with autism and FAS to assist you. You can use the support and so can she. There is also a great book out, “Our FAScinating Journey,” by Jodee Kulp which I highly recommend.
Remember start being kind to yourself first as you need to be there for her for the long haul!