Hello, I have two children, one 2(girl) and one 3 1/2(boy). Since we brought her home he has been very aggressive towards her and here recently it has gotten worse. He has been pushing, pulling her down, pinning her down, and throwing toys at her. Otherwise he is a normal, sweet little boy. I totally understand that this is him being jealous but how do I get it across to him that this behavior is NOT acceptable? I have tried everything that I can think of. We spend equal amounts of time with him and have our special times with each child and use praise. (I do not believe in spanking) HELP!:)

Dear Whitney,

First let me extend my sincere apology for being so late in responding to your question. I have been distracted by a serious family illness.

Next let me say this is not just jealousy. Your little girl is being terrorized. It might help to focus on how this is impacting her. She is not too young to suffer from this type of physical and emotional trauma. We often minimize this behavior by calling it sibling jealousy however he is teaching her what she can expect from boys in her life. That he is her brother and that they are only a year a part does not excuse his behavior.

Now that I have your complete attention and hopefully have not offended you to the point that you don't want to read further, let me say that you can gain some control over this situation. He needs to know this is totally unacceptable behavior.

1st. He needs to be removed from the situation whenever he acts out. He leaves the room not her. He needs to lose the space he was in and the toys he was playing with when he acts out like this to know it is unacceptable. Do not hold any eye contact with him while you keep  your voice steady and tell him that WE DO NOT (insert behavior here) ever!

2nd. Get some books. If you visit the link I have below you can find some books for his age ranges such as Hands are not for hitting; Feet are not for kicking; etc.  Read them with him.

3rd. Make sure he is not reinforced with too much negative interaction after he has been removed from the situation. Many time we spend too much time addressing the issue and the child has our undivided attention for miss-behaving.

4th. Next, look for a feeling book. Again, hit the link below and you will be able to find my recommendations for these books. Boys often do not have as high a verbal vocabulary as girls. They get frustrated easily. Unfortunately, we do not express our feelings often in this society and boys are left without a model to know how to express their feelings without acting out. When you get him feeling words books you will see a huge difference in his behavior soon!

5th. Lastly and most importantly try to catch him doing the good behavior you want from him and immediately give him positive eye contact including smiles and approval. Keep this up for a minimum of six weeks to ensure that his behavior maintains!

So thank you for your patience and thank you for writing to me. I am most happy to have this opportunity to respond to your question!

Best Wishes!  

Dr. Mary Kay Keller
My new Kindle Book has just been published and the paperback is coming shortly.
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Dr. Mary Kay Keller


Ask me about my research on Fathers and their babies! I presented the only TED talk on Fathering to date. I answer questions concerning Infants & Toddlers & the developmental stages that they are in and referral information when necessary. It doesn`t matter what the psychological or emotional behavior they are exhibiting. What matters is that you ask the questions & search out solutions! My individual private confidential services are listed here. My books and creative arts are listed here Do come and visit today! Dr. Kellers' Blogging. Post your questions 24/7.

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I have worked with Infants & Toddlers of teen parents, single parents, parents, , military parents, gay parents, alternative caregivers & grandparents raising grandparents. I was trained as an Infant Massage Instructor and in the Nurturing Parenting Education program. I have knowledge of breastfeeding, developmental play, intuitive parenting, appropriate boundaries and rule setting with toddlers, potty training, and developmental stages. I work with all parents and caregivers of babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Social Service Workers License, National Council on Family Relations, Nurturing Parenting Educator, Infant Massage Instructor

Loving Touch - Why Babies Need Massaged. International Attachment Parenting Journal Fathering Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Education: A.A., B.S. Honors, (Psychology & Sociology), S.S.W., Masters, & PhD Child and Family Studies (bonding & attachment). Confidential services and books are on my website.

Awards and Honors
International Who's Who of Professionals & Honors in Psychology

Past/Present Clients
Parents, caregivers, grand-parents raising grand-children, foster & adoptive parents, single parents & teen parents, relative care and all who were caring for infant & toddlers!

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