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Aggressive three year old girl
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Aggressive three year old girl

I have a daughter is about to turn three. While she is a bright, happy, fun child, she also has a problem with being too rough and aggressive with other children. (kicking, shoving toys into their faces, jabbing them with sticks, pushing the list goes on and on) Im worried because we have an 8 month old and she is exhibiting this behavior towards him as well. The strange thing is, this behavior is often unprovoked. She will sort of ''go after'' another child out of the blue. It seems like she is trying to play with them but it definitely gets too rough. What's odd is if someone gets hurt or is crying she'll go over and give them a hug, friends always get a kiss goodbye and she constantly tells us she loves us, so I know she has a gentle side. I have been working and working with her on this, and frankly, often it seems like its something she can't control, like a synapse fires and she goes from a relatively calm, focused kid to jumping on another kids head. She has been like this from the time she could walk and I can't really pinpoint why it happens. She definitely knows the difference between gentle and rough, but she either can't control it or won't. I need advice on where to turn for help Im at my wits end, Im always embarrassed when she is playing with other children. She goes to daycare part time and just recently she started exhibiting this behavior there.  Could it be a food allergy? Does she need behavioral therapy? How do I discipline?
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973741_tn?1342346373
Hm.  Well, I am not sure.  I have a boy with sensory integration disorder and one of the things that can happen with a sensory kid is that they don't really have boundaries with other kids.  They touch too much, get in people's space, play too intensely, mean to pat someone and actually hit them, etc.  They also lack impulse control and so it is hard to stop themselves from doing these things.  Their "stop" buttons don't work too well.  But kids also do this due to immaturity.  She is still young and time will tell if it is an issue with her nervous system as it is with my son or just immaturity.  

You can google sensory integration disorder and see what you think.  Social peer issues are common with sensory kids.  Things that come naturally to some kids don't to a sensory kid.  And for my son, he isn't always aware of where he is in space (the nervous system connection falters) and he will bump into someone to get the signal to the brain.  He'll play roughly because his brain craves that "input".   We sought an evaluation with an occupational therapist and my son was diagnosed at 4.  Occupational therapy has helped a lot.  

I'd try going the natural consequence route with her.  Tell her that if she is rough on a play date that the play date is over.  And then give her one warning.  If she is in another child's face, hits, pushes or what have you after that warning---------- pick her up and leave.  Every single time.  Doesn't matter if it is 5 minutes into the playdate.  This will teach her that there is a limit and she just can't do it.  It is awkward with friends sometimes-------- but explain to them ahead of time that you are working on something with her to help her behavior.  They'll understand as I'm sure they really don't want her pushing, kicking, hitting their child.  A few times of having to leave will have an affect, I suspect.  

There is a book called "hands are not for hitting" that I highly recommend.  It is simple and sends that message in a great way for kids.  I'd also work on her words.  How can she express herself with words rather than actions.  "I want that toy" rather than pushing the child to get it.  And you should be very active with her  peer interaction to help guide her through.  

Anyway, look up sensory integration disorder and see what you think.  Good luck
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks, since your post I have read everything I could find online. SHe does exhibit some of the listed symptoms- mainly just the behavior ones. How/when did you make the determination that this more then just age related behavior- something that needed an intervention with your son. Right now Im on the fence beascue she is young. Did your son have symptoms other then the behvior issues you mentioned?
I know I cannot go on like this much longer we live in a neighboorhood with a lot of kids and every night there is an incident. I cry every single night. Im willing to try anything.
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973741_tn?1342346373
I'm sorry.  I  know it is hard.  And it absolutely IS hard to decide what is kid behavior and something more.  Kids at three are often rambunctious and hard to control.  Our situation was that our son attended preschool for one half day a week (well, 2 hours).  He had an excellent teacher with a lot of experience that picked up on some things.  She suggested that he be observed by an outreach specialist to see if it was sensory issues.  This was at age 3.  That therapist thought she saw sensory and recommended an occupational therapy evaluation.  We did it at three and it was inconclusive.  They weren't sure. I took that as . . .oh, he's fine.  Well, by the next year when he turned 4, things escalated.  His social issues became a little worse and much more painful because he became aware of it.  His self esteem took a nose dive.  We had him evaluated again and at 4 it was clear.  Sensory integration disorder.

However, I tell you that I to this day (he's now 6.5)-------- I am trying to decide if things are sensory related or naughty behavior.  It is always a question.

Your daugther is young. When you ask if my son had other symptoms rather than behavior . . . well, yes.  After the fact when I looked at the behavior and what could be triggering it.  Playing too roughly is part of sensoy.  Not understanding personal space and boudaries is part of sensory.  Lack of impulse control and making poor choices is part of sensory.  My son exhibited tactile defensiveness.  While he loved swimming and getting dirty,  at preschool he couldn't stand to have his hands washed.  How did I know?  He'd cry and carry on about it.  So his behavior let me know that he had an issue with tactile things at time (which after a short time in occupational therapy, this got about 95% better).  Things like . . . kids build a snow man, my son knocked it down.  Very sensory but not great for being a popular kid in the neighborhood.  He talks to loud, screams out when he doesn't get his way, etc.  We have worked hard on these things and it has been a slow process but he is blending in without incident much better.

My suggestion is that 1---------  get her to parks, pools, gyms almost every day.  I'm dead serious.  A child can get so much valuable input into their nervous system with these activities.  They are calming and will help behavior.  Swimming is the perfect exercise as it encompasses heavy work (which is essential for the nervous system---- muscle work) and deep pressure (very soothing).  Parks are awesome for running, swinging (calming!), climbing, jumping, rolling, etc.  It is a sensory workout and it usually has a long term positive effect on a child.  Sensory or not------- good for kids.  While there, guide her through social contact and stick close to her side to help her.
2-------- Natural consequences in the neighborhood. Pick something to work on. I'd start with the most troublesome thing.  Hitting or kicking would be good or grabbing toys.  Talk to her ahead of time about alternatives.  If you are angry, do this X.  Then act it out for her.  Then have her act it out.  If you are frustrated, use your words to tell me why. I always say----- tell a grown up.  Then my kids come and tell me vs. just yelling at a friend.  Deep breaths, calming spots if you feel like you are getting upset.  etc.  Then tell her that if she does the thing you are trying to work on, that you will leave the group and go home.  She starts to do the thing and you give her 1 warning.  She does it again------ then no matter how much fun YOU are having, the other kids are having or she is having------ play time with the neighborhood kids is over.  Carry her crying and screaming self home and sit her down for a time out.  This will teach her that no matter what, her behavior of doing the thing you are trying to eliminate will result in not being with the kids. Even if she is having impulse control----------  this is limit setting.  Just because my son has sensory integration disorder-------  he doesn't get a free pass to do as he wishes.  I still set the limits and a big one is aggressiveness to others.  
3--------  you play with her and her friends.  You teach her how to interact.  At home, you act like a friend and make her share with you (we do trades-------- you can only take something from someone if you "trade" them for something else), take turns winning at games, take turns picking what you will play, etc.  And when with peers, you stick around and help her in a way that is as if you are just part of the group.  

If this continues, then an occupational therapy eval is helpful.  It changed my sons life for the much much better.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks, your posts are awesome and very helpful! I picked up the no hitting book you mentioned and a few others. Ill continue to work with her daily. I did find an OT center in my area that specializes in SPD. Ill give it a little while to see if anything starts to work its way out as she matures- if not Ill contact them. Thanks again! Monica
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