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Toddler shows no remorse, ever

 
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amother




OP
 

Post  Fri, Jan 10 2020, 6:11 am
I only have two kids so far.

DS is 3.5, and extremely empathetic. He has a great capacity for remorse when he hurts another being, and we have had a set ritual for apologies for years now: make sure the "hurt" is okay, say "I'm sorry," and give a hug. It works beautifully with him. He has a way to move forward from hurting someone, same knows how to make them feel better too.

DD is 2, and is NOT empathetic at all. She is also extremely stubborn. She will not demonstrate any remorse or caring when she hurts another being. She just laughs, and then she laughs some more if I try to direct her toward reparations. Our current method of discipline is that she has to leave the group play until she's ready to behave properly (both because she'll just keep hurting her older brother or friendly, and because she needs to learn resolution, and because DS senses injustice if we hold her to a different standard), but she is stubborn enough to stay there for hours, doing nothing, rather than say "sorry." I don't want to go there, and I'm trying to decide a new strategy that will create resolution, not more conflict.

Any suggestions?

PS - she is extremely precocious. She's been speaking full sentences for months, in 3 languages, is creative and tactile, and is in many ways very developed. But her emotional regulation needs some work, and her total lack of empathy worries me a little, even now. I just don't know how to deal with her.
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Hashem_Yaazor




 
 
 
 

Post  Fri, Jan 10 2020, 6:37 am
I honestly think it's still age appropriate.
To help her gain the skills (a process, but a magic lesson), you can continue talking to her about others' experiences and feelings ("oh look, Chani is sad because Rivky took her ball. Let's give Chani a hug.") Both in real life and in books by discussing the pictures a lot. You should also over emphasize your caring and compassion so it'll be easier for her to learn from you putting it in action.

When she hurts, don't make it a discussion. Calmly and firmly remove her wordlessly. Stay with her for 2 minutes. If she seems calm, ask her are you ready to come back and play nicely? If she seems ready, bring her back and tell her to give a hug to her play partner. Don't worry about the word sorry.

It'll take time, but I think this is still in the realm of very, very normal.
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imasinger




 
 
 
 

Post  Fri, Jan 10 2020, 6:46 am
Some kids are like that. In fact, maybe most 2 year olds are like that.

The best thing you can do is be proactive. Distract and redirect before she starts getting physical. Much of the time, you can see it coming, if you stay aware.

If a child hits, separate them, and remind, "gentle hands." You can suggest and request that they say sorry; I wouldn't insist on it for a 2 year old. I don't know that they're old enough to understand it.

Be sure to read books together about saying sorry, and about being gentle.

Make sure if DS is the injured party, that he gets your time and attention. Paying negative attention to DD for hitting is not good for either kid.

Last, and most importantly, catch your DD "being good" as much as possible. Praise her for any action that can be interpreted as thoughtful or kind. Your saying so can help form her self image.
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happyone




 
 
 
 

Post  Fri, Jan 10 2020, 6:48 am
Shes TWO. I wouldn't expect her to show remorse at that age. I would gently say the apology for her to show an example , but lower your expectations. She is but a toddler.

PS. Wait till they're teens...Laugh
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powerofplay




 
 
 
 

Post  Fri, Jan 10 2020, 10:56 am
This is not unusual at this age . It takes time to truly internalize empathy. I would try to discuss yours and her emotions during real life situations ( ie.. you hurt your finger .... You’re little bit sad right now .... ) while using gentle but very expressive language, tone , and facial expressions to convey your empathy. This should be done as much as possible. Make sure to include positive emotions also .
You can also use books (and movies where appropriate) highlighting different emotional experiences of different characters (obviously age appropriate). For ex , Elmo lost his balloon ... oh no ... he’s sad ... I hope he finds it soon .. conveying concern on your face as well . It’s possible she’s uncomfortable with intense emotions so do this gradually and gently . I enjoy the Daniel the Tiger episode/song on teaching Empathy.
I would also respond matter-of-factly to the aggressive episode trying to preempt it If possible, separate them quickly and giving appropriate 1:1 attention to her as well . It’s possible she’s competing for attention and feeling less capable than older sibling ?
Also if she’s hitting frequently consider OT evaluation for sensory seeking ?
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mommy201




 
 
 
 

Post  Fri, Jan 10 2020, 11:07 am
Sounds very age appropriate. A 2 year old even mature one does not have emotional regulation yet. That starts at about 4. Yes personalities can be making your son extra empathetic as a younger child but your 2 year old sounds very normal!
I would say just teach and set a good example. That's all you can do at this age. Disciplining her to be empathetic would not work at this age. If anything it can make it worse.
When you send her out of the group, that's kind of like a punishment and not very empathetic on your end.
If say she took a toy from your son, I would say "Oy, you really want that toy, don't you? Isn't is so much fun?" Then you can can say " I know you really want it but 'son' had it first. So lets give it to him and then you can get it" (or any idea you can come up with)
Trust me, this works! When I started being empathetic to my children, they started being empathetic to siblings and friends. It was actually pretty cute to watch.
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Hakol Letovah




 
 
 
 

Post  Tue, Feb 11 2020, 3:25 pm
may be k for age, but never too early to teach empathy. modeling. friend is sad, lets bring her a ..., doll is sad, lets make her feel better - this is how they learn.
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amother




Brown
 

Post  Tue, Feb 11 2020, 3:48 pm
A 2 yr old is not capable of remorse. You might see behavior that looks like remorse in some 2 yr olds, but it isn’t that.
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amother




Fuchsia
 

Post  Tue, Feb 11 2020, 3:54 pm
I don't recall any of my kids displaying remorse at the age of 2.

My 2 year old is very good at labeling photos and people IRL either "happy" or "sad" based on facial expression. But I see no signs (yet) that he actually empathizes with the happy or sad person or feels remorse after causing someone to go from happy to sad. I expect it will come later.
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Zehava




 
 
 
 

Post  Tue, Feb 11 2020, 3:55 pm
happyone wrote:
Shes TWO. I wouldn't expect her to show remorse at that age. I would gently say the apology for her to show an example , but lower your expectations. She is but a toddler.

PS. Wait till they're teens...Laugh

Yes! Argggg! Thanks! These posts make me roll my eyes. Next they’ll be expecting two year olds to problem solve! The poor kid isn’t stubborn she’s in survival mode. She’s a baby let her breathe please don’t punish her for hours!
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amother




OP
 

Post  Tue, Feb 11 2020, 4:00 pm
Since this thread was revived, I thought I'd update:

I've been working very hard on creating emotional understanding since this post. as other posters suggested, I now pause to comment during storybooks about what the characters are feeling, and why. Since then, DD has started taking care of dolls and bears, kissing them when they fall, and concerning herself with their needs. When I get hurt, she pets my "ouch" and kisses it. If she is upset with her brother, she sometimes explains why. She still deliberately hurts others, but out of anger/frustration, not curious joy. Thank you all for telling me to chill out on the method teaching, and promoting the emotional discussion. I'm definitely seeing a difference.
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mommy201




 
 
 
 

Post  Tue, Feb 11 2020, 7:27 pm
So glad to hear!
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powerofplay




 
 
 
 

Post  Tue, Feb 11 2020, 9:31 pm
That’s great news ! Hopefully all your hard work will pay off !
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amother




Pink
 

Post  Tue, Feb 11 2020, 9:48 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
I only have two kids so far.

DS is 3.5, and extremely empathetic. He has a great capacity for remorse when he hurts another being, and we have had a set ritual for apologies for years now: make sure the "hurt" is okay, say "I'm sorry," and give a hug. It works beautifully with him. He has a way to move forward from hurting someone, same knows how to make them feel better too.

DD is 2, and is NOT empathetic at all. She is also extremely stubborn. She will not demonstrate any remorse or caring when she hurts another being. She just laughs, and then she laughs some more if I try to direct her toward reparations. Our current method of discipline is that she has to leave the group play until she's ready to behave properly (both because she'll just keep hurting her older brother or friendly, and because she needs to learn resolution, and because DS senses injustice if we hold her to a different standard), but she is stubborn enough to stay there for hours, doing nothing, rather than say "sorry." I don't want to go there, and I'm trying to decide a new strategy that will create resolution, not more conflict.

Any suggestions?

PS - she is extremely precocious. She's been speaking full sentences for months, in 3 languages, is creative and tactile, and is in many ways very developed. But her emotional regulation needs some work, and her total lack of empathy worries me a little, even now. I just don't know how to deal with her.


Do you honestly think a 2 year old knows what empathy is? How old are you?
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mommy201




 
 
 
 

Post  Tue, Feb 11 2020, 10:34 pm
amother [ Pink ] wrote:
Do you honestly think a 2 year old knows what empathy is? How old are you?


Let’s at least try to show that we are old enough to know what empathy is and practice it by not insulting ppl :-)
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