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Old 08-06-2012, 10:21 PM   #1
MamaD
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Default Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

We have a 3 year old (son #1) and a 19 months old (son #2). I am really troubled by what's going on in this sibling deal, especially with my 3 year old. I need some help creating a much more loving sibling environment.

For example, son #1 wants to do EVERYTHING son #2 is doing (doesn't matter is something is really way below his age). son #1 would also get out of his way to make sure that son #2 doesn't get something. For example, son #1 is playing happily with toyA. son #2 goes and picks up toyB. AS SOON AS son#2 picks up toyB, son#1 IMMEDIATELY drops toyA and runs over to son#2 to try and pull toyB out of son#2's hands claiming that he "needs" it, and he gets very very intense when son#2 doesn't let go of the toyB. If I step in and somehow manages to redirect son#2 to, say toyA (or even toyC) so that son#1 can have toyA (of course I think that's wrong, but #!@), then son#1 will again IMMEDIATELY drop toyB and run to whatever toy son#2 has. It is very obvious that son#1 doesn't actually want the toy son#2 is playing with, instead, all he is trying to do is to make sure son#2 doesn't get it (or doesn't get ANYTHING, including the things son#1 never wanted to begin with). What is the deal with this attitude? I really want some ideas on cracking this "heart issue". I tried many ways and many times to correct the behavior, but I get nowhere with it besides ending up with a real upset son#1 who thinks he is absolutely being mistreated when I ask him to let go of the toy he is pulling out of brother's hand or to give it back to brother. It is not a discipline matter; it is a "heart" matter - why does he not want brother to have ANYTHING so badly that he'd go totally out of his way to ensure brother doesn't get anything? And how to I fix it so that "the heart" can become more loving towards brother?

Another example, every time I serve food, #1 wants to pile "A LOT" on his plate, and there is nothing that can stop him from wanting A LOT. And of course he can never finish eating the amount he asks for. I think the reason that he wants A LOT is just to make sure that there will be none left for brother (or anyone else, I don't know). Sometimes I try to explain to him by pointing at the serving plate and his plate, pointing out how he scooped all the food onto his plate, and showing him how there is so very little left in the serving plate that mom, dad, and brother won't be able to get anything to eat now. I try to explain that mom, dad, and brother each need some too, and he won't put the food back. I think he doesn't want brother to get any....I'm not sure. But this thinking really bothers me. I want an abundant mentality, not a scarce mentality. How do I nurture that?

When #1 sits down on a 2-seat chair (designed just for the two of them to sit together), when he sees #2 coming to sit, he purposely sits right in the middle and ignores me telling him to make room for #2.

Please help me figure out the matter in the heart so I can fix the matter of the heart and not just the behavior (which is totally useless to fix and have tantrums over).

I can see how #1 may not feel like there is "enough" to go around, enough food, enough toys, enough love.... And I try to point out all the times when #1 gets something "special" (which #2 doesn't get due to #2's age being younger), but that doesn't seem to help. What can I do? What is the problem?

Last edited by MamaD; 08-06-2012 at 10:26 PM.
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Old 08-06-2012, 10:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

For the food, simply serve him what's appropriate and end the discussion. He's 3. It is perfectly acceptable to tell him he may have more when he's finished his serving, if he's still hungry.

If he has big feelings about that, well, he has big feelings. Reflect them, but carry on with the way things are happening.

Regarding the toys: his "heart" wants everything and his brother to have nothing because he's 3. It's a stage. Many things are a stage. Mostly you "fix" them by continued teaching, redirecting, and waiting them out. I have absolutely removed the toy from the older's hand and given it back to the younger, and explained that he can have a turn when the younger is done his turn.
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Old 08-07-2012, 12:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

Well, I think by redirecting son #2 to Toy A and giving toy B to son #1, you are going to exacerbate the issue. Son #2 is old enough now that redirecting so #1 can have the toy is no longer the best choice IMO...

We are struggling with similar issues, yup I think it is a 3 yr old with a closely spaced sibling thing. Ours are 37 mos and 14 mos.

There are going to be meltdowns/tantrums. On both ends likely. Try to remember that crying is okay... likely the toy is not the issue but there is an emotional need. Say "I understand that you are angry, but you may not take toy B from son2. You may choose another toy or wait your turn." (insert meltdown). "I know you are mad. I will sit here with you but you may not steal toy/hit/etc". (let meltdown happen, and only restrain to keep other child safe if needed). After meltdown, discuss. "You were sure upset. I feel frustrated too when I can't have what I want". (may retrigger meltdown. That's actually okay. Remember it is a heart issue not a toy issue. Sit near, or hold him again if that's what he wants). He will feel better, it will feel like forever but what he really needs is to feel heard, not the actual toy. Make sure to hug him after
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Old 08-07-2012, 01:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

Have you read the 3year old thread?
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Old 08-07-2012, 01:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

Three year olds are at a wacky point where there really is such a thing as too much of a choice. It's like the part of their brains that are developing the sense that there is a whole other path leading from the alternate decision causes them to stop and freeze when it comes to the crossroads, and many times, the decision part is overwhelming. While it's awesome to help them develop the ability to serve themselves, it can also temporarily be wayyyy too much, and honestly, instead of standing there and trying to play the wheel and deal game in the effort to get him to jump ahead of his developmental area and "think of others" and not take so much, I would simply alter dinner time so that you serve plates, and later if he wants more, he can grab a spoon and help himself, if you are so inclined. It's asking much too FAR too much to try to rope a three year old into being that kind of decision maker. Kind of like, asking a student of arithmetic to instantly do a page of geometry with correct solutions. They have the tools, a bit, but not enough of them, and not in a way that they can make heads or tails of the Geo problems.

I have ideas for other things, too (my two are two years and nine months apart) but I'm waiting a sec, because your phrasing of "totally useless to fix and have tantrums over" is stopping me a bit. Tell me about your thoughts on tantrums. Do you want him to not tantrum, or to avoid tantrums?
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

DoulaClara,

"Do I want him to not tantrum, or to avoid tantrums?" These two sounds the same so I don't know how to answer. I'm not trying to avoid tantrums altogether because I know it's not possible and that tantrums are needed. Although, I want to avoid conflicts and stressful situations when I can. Currently, they wake up and spend the whole day getting on each others' nerves. They also become totally unable to have any concentration or focus on any work or play because they are always distracted by what the other one is doing (that's especially for son#1 who never gets to focus and enjoy any playtime because he's too worried about what son#2 is doing). They are both crying and having tantrums a lot throughout the day. To answer your question - I would like to cut some of those down; I would like to defuse some of those extremely intense and stressful situations where both are pulling at a toy and one eventually falls down because he loses his grip. I don't mind being there to teach, but I want to be more effective where I can defuse the stressful times and create a more friendly, loving environment where they both have fun, feel loved, and enjoy having the brother around (most times).

---------- Post added at 11:30 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:19 AM ----------

Oh, the other part I forgot to mention is that I'd like to know how to effectively intervene. When I intervene and say, ask #1 to give the toy back to #2, #1 either doesn't let go, throws the toy at #2, intentionally runs very far away to put the toys down somewhere else saying that he's putting it down over there for #2 (and what he's truly doing is knowingly and intentionally aggravating #2 by running far away with the toy), or giving the toy back to #2 AND THEN hitting #2 as soon as I turn my back. This is what I mean by "fixing the behavior doesn't work" - the behavior being that "you took #2's toy so you give it back to him" isn't the issue. The issue is in the heart - he can fix the behavior by giving the toy back to #2 in any of the ways I described above (which are all inappropriate), but the issue in the heart isn't fixed.

---------- Post added at 11:57 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:30 AM ----------

Allisontx,
No I haven't read the 3 year old thread, should I? Where is it?

For the food, the suggestion is to serve what I think is appropriate for him and leave it as that. That's what I've done many times, and I really only give him a little bit, for example, only half a toast or 1/3-1/2 kids-size cup of milk, 2tablespoons of beans, etc. I do so because sometimes he doesn't even eat any even though he asks for it. Anyways, he always whines about wanting more when he receives the food. I tell him "you can have AS MUCH AS YOU"D LIKE. AFTER you finish this I'll give you more". Something about it doesn't click, somehow that's not enough for him no matter what I say. Many times I just say "I'll leave your bow here at the counter, when you are ready you can come get it". All of these brings him to a huge tantrum at the dinner table. Here are my questions:
1) Am I doing the right thing by insisting on the serving portion I give him? (his crying makes it look as if I'm really mis-treating him and trying to starve him.
2) How do I deal with his tantrum at the dinner table? Ask him to leave the table and be back when he's calm? (his tantrum escalates when I ask or force him to get off the table). Leave him at the table and ignore him while the rest of us eats? (the extremely loud YELLING and crying stirs up something in DH & #2 that I eventually end up with another 2 cranky babies - DH & #2). What do I do? I approve of the anger but I don't approve the yelling.

I welcome the words of wisdom on tantrums here as it relates to the food issue or brother issue, but I'm also posting a totally separate thread on tantrums because I feel that I need a full lesson on that topic while I need this thread to stay on the original sibling topic so I can get some tips on making sibling harmony and building good sibling experiences for them for life.

Last edited by MamaD; 08-08-2012 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:19 PM   #7
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Default

Your language is standing out to me.


"ask him to give the toy back"
"refuses to put back food"
"heart problem"

Etc.

Basically I'm stuck on your wording. So I'm going to address that a little.

Don't ask him to give the toy back. Say " you may not take that you, you need to give it back." Does he have his own toys that he isn't required to share? He may be feeling a loss of control over everything and wants to reclaim it.

For food, don't let him serve himself. All mine are older and even the 15 yr old waits to be served ( though he is perfectly capable of serving himself its a respect thing). We also emphasize that serving goes youngest to oldest. I wouldn't trust my 6 yr old to properly serve himself or he'd have a belly full of mashed potatoes and no meat or carrots.

His heart issue is that he has watched this other person come in and steal his things. I know that's not what really happened but in his mind this is what happened. Naomi Aldort explained it like this.

How would you like your husband to come home one day and say "hey, I got another wife. Now I want you to share nicely and be polite to her and don't get mad when it's her night in bed with me.". We would totally lose it, and yet that is exactly what we say to our children.

How much time does he get away from his brother? Why is he required to share a seat with his brother? Is it the only seat available? Does e get one on one mommy time? Remember that three is still a little guy and cuddles and loves from mommy, uninterrupted are still extremely important.
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

Petie,

Thanks for your comments. I know where you're getting at with my language. I'll clarify: Even though I said that I "ask him" to give the toy back, I AM saying "You may not take it from his hands. Give it back to him", firmly. I am not saying "Could you" or "will you" or "can you" give it back? So there is no problem there with that kind of language concerns.

On serving himself - I don't always do it, but only occasionally. I take your advice and not let him serve himself. That's fine. But my post recent comment refenced the issues I run into when I serve him less than what he wants - then what? (see my description in above post).

"How would you like your husband to come home one day and say 'hey, I got another wife. Now I want you to share nicely and be polite to her and don't get mad when it's her night in bed with me' ". I do know that this is what it's like to him. I do know that it is hard having a sibling. My question was (and still is) - How can I help create more harmony, loving, and positive experience amongst the siblings?

"why is he required to share a seat with his brother? is it the only seat available?" No that's not the only seat available. We have 2 double seat kids chairs. And I am NOT requiring him to share the same seat. To clarify what I was describing, I'm talking about #1 intentionally scooting to the middle of the double-seat chair/bench and sticking his butt to the middle the moment #2 comes and wants to sit in the same double-seat chair with him; I'm talking about manners & courtesy - when someone comes and wants to join you, you scoot over and give a little room to them, or you just don't sit your butt right in the middle of a multi-seat chair when there is someone else around that may want to sit down too. Where else are you going to learn those courtesy but starting at home? Sometimes he even pushes brother off the chair when brother tries to sit next to him. None of that is acceptable to me. And like I said in my original post, I know I can't just fix his behavior or tell him what to do when the kindness and courtesy needs to come from the heart. I want to learn how to nurture the kindness from the heart.

"How much time does he get away from his brother?" Not too much but on daily basis we have "quiet time" when he goes to his own room to read and play with whatever he wants in his own room (door closed) for anywhere between 15-25 minutes and then go down to nap on his own when his timer beeps (I set the timer for how long to play before he has to sleep). And the quiet time (quiet alone play + nap) altogether is 1.5 - 2 hours daily. Also, after he wakes up from nap, there is usually 30 minutes of him without brother (either doing something on his own, watching what I'm doing, or doing something with me) until brother wakes up too.


"one on one mommy time"? none scheduled now but it typically happens speratically when DH has #2 for a few minutes here and there, I will read with #1.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaD View Post
Anyways, he always whines about wanting more when he receives the food. I tell him "you can have AS MUCH AS YOU"D LIKE. AFTER you finish this I'll give you more". Something about it doesn't click, somehow that's not enough for him no matter what I say.
Right. Totally normal. See, to you, you've explained things logically so it's all good. To him, (who doesn't really get logic until *much* older) all he hears is "can't have what you want."

That's fine. There's a disconnect between you, but honestly, it's not a problem. Frustrating for both of you in the interim, yes. But fine. You state a rule. He gets upset. You comfort him through the upset, and at other, neutral times, work on teaching through "how" to be upset. All part of the process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaD View Post
1) Am I doing the right thing by insisting on the serving portion I give him? (his crying makes it look as if I'm really mis-treating him and trying to starve him.
Yup, especially if he over-serves himself, given the chance to do it himself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaD View Post
2) How do I deal with his tantrum at the dinner table? Ask him to leave the table and be back when he's calm? (his tantrum escalates when I ask or force him to get off the table). Leave him at the table and ignore him while the rest of us eats? (the extremely loud YELLING and crying stirs up something in DH & #2 that I eventually end up with another 2 cranky babies - DH & #2). What do I do? I approve of the anger but I don't approve the yelling.
Well, there are a couple of things you could do. You could remove him from the table to another room and stay with him while he calms down. You could give him a couple of minutes to calm himself while still at the table. Your DH needs to manage his own emotions. Maybe have a chat with him about that at some point. If he can't be around a crying 3 year old, then perhaps he needs to learn some coping skills. One of those might be removing himself. But then he can work toward others, like not letting it bother him. Your younger, yes, the crying will probably upset him. Oh well.

It's a stage. 3 is very, very, very young. He simply doesn't have the emotional maturity, yet, to handle what you're hoping he will. It will come, though. My 5 year old no longer fusses about his food portions. The 3 year old does, though. And often gets told "your choice is this size or nothing at all." And then melts down. That's 3 for you.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

How much of your attention is the 3 year old getting? Can you take him on a mommy/son date once a week? Can you spend special time with him when the younger one is asleep? These kinds of jealousy things might disappear if more of your interactions with him are positive, and he has some one on one time with you.

---------- Post added at 01:43 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:42 AM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaD View Post


"one on one mommy time"? none scheduled now but it typically happens speratically when DH has #2 for a few minutes here and there, I will read with #1.
Woops! I just saw this. Try to find more time to spend with him.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:53 PM   #11
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

The rule in my house has always been, if you want something that baby has, you have to trade it before you can take it. I would practice this over and over again with the bigger one.
Also does the 3yo have a place for his own very special big boy toys that are not common property? I always set aside a higher shelf in the closet or a basket that I kept on top of a dresser, where bigger one could put ANY toy he doesn't want baby to play with. It has to have limited space, so once it is full, he has to trade things out. We also did this for baby, of course baby didn't understand, but baby's basket had teething type toys that were purchased or gifted to baby.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:03 PM   #12
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

I know you're worried about this being a heart issue. The thing is at three, he is just barely, barely old enough to understand how his actions affect others. It's not that he is especially unloving or that you've missed teaching him an important lesson, or that if you find the right words he'll get it and suddenly quit acting this way.

That's why the pp's are saying it's a phase and that the answer is to continue correcting his behavior and teaching him how to treat his brother and eventually this phase will pass, he will become cognitively able to empathize, and you'll start to see the fruits of your teaching.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:04 AM   #13
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

Quote:
Originally Posted by WingsOfTheMorning View Post
it's a phase and that the answer is to continue correcting his behavior and teaching him how to treat his brother and eventually this phase will pass, he will become cognitively able to empathize, and you'll start to see the fruits of your teaching.
This makes sense to me. A lot of it is immaturity due to young age. So how to I continue to teach the appropriate loving behavior effectively for this stage?

I don't think I'm being effective in my teaching. Like I said, I feel that every time I make a correction, for example, "you may not take from #2, give it back to him", or "we don't push/hit him, apologize to him", etc, he acts out by throwing the toy at #2 (instead of handing to him), or running real far away with toy saying he is putting it down somewhere else for #2 (knowingly aggrevating #2), or simply refusing to follow my instructions, or possibly following my instructions and then hitting #2 immediately as soon as I turn my back. To me, that's not effective teaching when this is what comes out of it. I almost hate to teach & correct him because I don't like how #1 finds his way to get back at #2 for "CAUSING #1 to get into trouble", if you know what I mean.

---------- Post added at 06:04 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:00 AM ----------

Dedicated toys for #1 that's not being shared with #2 - I don't have that yet. How do I do this without causing #2 to fuss over it? #2 is too young to understand this concept certainly. Do I need to make it a rule for #1 that he can only use those toys when #2 is not around or in his room alone or something? Having #2 see those toys or see #1 playing with them won't work at all.

one-on-one with mommy - that we don't have dedicated yet either and I want to do this. Any ideas on what types of activities, places, settings, and duration would be good for this? Like I said, we do it here and there for a few minutes at a time, and it's certainly not an outing, it's just at home reading a book together or something real easy like that whenever I get a just few minutes away from #2. I don't think that's enough time or "special" enough. What do you suggest for a busy life?
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:23 AM   #14
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

Negative behavior certainly needs to be stopped. But...

The best teaching is done when no one is angry with positive examples...showing how to play with brother, how to tickle his tummy, how to trade toys.

Teach him to read facial expressions and body language. "brother is pushing you away. That means 'stop.'" or "brother is smiling. That means he likes to play peekaboo with you."

I don't force apologies, but we talk often about how when someone is hurting, we try to help them feel better. I migh say, "Sister is crying because you pushed her over. What might help her feel better?". Possible answers are a hug or getting her fuzzy blanket.

Also, once DD2 became mobile, I told DD1 that she can play in her room with the door closed when she wants "big girl time" away from her sister. She can also sit at the kitchen table to do things like puzzles and playdough.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:10 PM   #15
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Default Re: Very troubled by this sibling issue..... need some pointers

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaD View Post

one-on-one with mommy - that we don't have dedicated yet either and I want to do this. Any ideas on what types of activities, places, settings, and duration would be good for this? Like I said, we do it here and there for a few minutes at a time, and it's certainly not an outing, it's just at home reading a book together or something real easy like that whenever I get a just few minutes away from #2. I don't think that's enough time or "special" enough. What do you suggest for a busy life?
You could go on a weekly "date." You can make a big deal about it by telling him a few day in advance and showing him on the calendar. Give him some choices of where he'd like to go. Some things we have done are going to a restaurant to get a piece of pie, going for a walk in a new place, taking them to the library. Sometimes it's even mundane stuff like a walk to the post office, but it's slow and we take time to look at the bugs, and we talk about our day, and the child gets mommy's attention exclusively.

On a day to day basis, just try to connect with him throughout the day. When he's playing happily, stop and sit with him for a minute and rub his back and ask him to tell you what he's doing. You could set a timer for every hour and for the first 10 minutes of every hour do something with the kids.

Also, you can point out to him all the things that he gets to do with you that the baby can't do yet. He can help you cook, help you with laundry, maybe cut his own food or pour his own juice or use the toilet or stay up a little later. All those things that are part of being a bigger kid.

---------- Post added at 07:10 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:09 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by WingsOfTheMorning View Post
Negative behavior certainly needs to be stopped. But...

The best teaching is done when no one is angry with positive examples...showing how to play with brother, how to tickle his tummy, how to trade toys.

Teach him to read facial expressions and body language. "brother is pushing you away. That means 'stop.'" or "brother is smiling. That means he likes to play peekaboo with you."

I don't force apologies, but we talk often about how when someone is hurting, we try to help them feel better. I migh say, "Sister is crying because you pushed her over. What might help her feel better?". Possible answers are a hug or getting her fuzzy blanket.

Also, once DD2 became mobile, I told DD1 that she can play in her room with the door closed when she wants "big girl time" away from her sister. She can also sit at the kitchen table to do things like puzzles and playdough.
This exactly!
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