How do you handle hitting of siblings? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-11-2012, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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How do you handle it when your older child hits your younger child?  

My DDs are 2 and 4.  My 4yo hits my 2yo when she does not get her way.  Example:  2yo called the escalator in the Corduroy book "stairs" and my 4yo slapped her on the back pretty hard.  My 2yo wouldn't give her special dolly to my 4yo to put on the high chair, so she slapped her on the top of the head.


My 4yo has been becoming okay with time-out- her fits of extreme rage aren't as common or as bad as they were previously.. but I'm worried that shutting her in her room isn't healthy for her.  Sometimes though, my 2yo needs a break and if my 4yo doesn't have time to cool off and think about what she did, she will just continue.  If she's in a time out, we at least get a break from the hitting for a couple of hours.  They'll have arguments at most.  

4yo is in time out coloring in her room and 2yo is sitting on the couch reading Corduroy.  


I guess I'm learning to get her to make (temporary) peace with her sister.. but what will stop the hitting altogether, or for the most part?  Curb it, at least... I know that sibling squabbles are inevitable but c'mon... I wish she'd stop hitting her sister?  I'm sure her sister feels the same way.


What's in your toolkit?


"Hands are not for hitting" "People are for loving, not for hitting" etc don't work.  Are there any books I could read to her?

Me (27) DW (28) DD1 (9) DD2 (7) DD 3 (4)
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#2 of 6 Old 02-11-2012, 08:07 AM
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I treat the act of hitting as though it's quite possibly the worst thing you could do to someone else.  My girls were about 2 yrs apart.  My oldest wasnt the hitter but the baby was.  And 2 was when she started hitting.  If there is hitting the hitter is not allowed to play with who they hit for a small amount of time because they didn't respect the person and their body.  I look at it this way, If I'm willing to take away a toy that's being used and as an aparatus of destruction, I can take away the playmate of the destructor. 


It may sound harsh to some but it really worked for me.  They're really good about respecting other peoples bodies and space now.  I made sure they understood that they should be able to expect respect in their own home.  Now if I can get them to stop destroying my stuff!

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#3 of 6 Old 03-22-2012, 07:14 AM
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I fully agree with Imakcerka in that children need to be taught to respect other people's bodies and space, and while they may be aided in some cases by not allowing the children to play together for a pre-determined length of time I also think that it's really important that children are taught more effective ways to communicate their feelings and frustrations. While as adults we know hitting is bad, I think we also need to realize that in a lot of ways it's a very primal way of dealing with things, for instance many people swat at bugs that get too close to them, slapping them away...similarly for a lot of children hitting can be looked at as a way of conveying that same annoyance. At 4 a child may not be able to fully vocalize what's wrong but they do understand that hurting someone else isn't right and I think that communicating that hitting hurts may go a long way in helping in addition to separating them.

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#4 of 6 Old 03-30-2012, 11:11 PM
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How do you handle it with kids who are young enough that "not playing together" is not a punishment, but the desired consequence?


15 month old decides she wants to do whatever older brother (3 years old) is doing.  She goes over, grabs, snatches, and gets involved in a way that is often quite disruptive.  3 year old yells at me to "pick up the baby!" then snatches back whatever toy 15 month old took.  15 month old shrieks and lashes out.  3 year old lashes out at her and hits back.  (he does have a space she can't reach, when he chooses to use it)


I constantly tell him hitting is not OK, and he constantly tells me "But she hit me so I had to hit her!"

(Of course, I tell the baby not to hit also)


Picking up the 15 month old and removing her is exactly what the 3 year old wants to happen, and is not a consequence at all - he'd rather she was never around in the same space as him. And I can't very well carry her all day long.

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#5 of 6 Old 04-03-2012, 11:26 AM
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I felt for a long time like nothing I did mattered. My kids were ages 4 and 12-15 months or so when things were the hardest. Elder son would hit/be aggressive baby when baby took a toy, etc. I mostly picked up baby, kissed baby, said, "are you okay? DS needs to learn not to hit", and took baby away to another room. I also told older DS it's not okay to hit (before leaving).


Then, after a while, when I responded this way, DS would start saying, "oh no, not again!" He would be frustrated that he was losing my attention. Now, we still have problems every once in a while, but it is much better. Baby is now 18 months.


So, while I felt like it was not working at the time, because I had to do it constantly, I think removing my attention and directing it towards the baby actually DID help. The older child may get what he wants in the short term (the toy), but he loses your attention, which I think matters more in the longer run. It may take them a while to get it, though!



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#6 of 6 Old 04-03-2012, 03:51 PM
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Children who hit are immediately sent to their room for a cooling off period. If both hit, both are sent to their rooms .It's not an enforced 'time out'. They can come out when they are calm. When they are calm, they are asked to apologize or do something to help the other person feel better.


My kids are now 7 and 10 and there's been minimal hitting. Dd (age 7) still lashes out occasionally and I've started charging her 25 cents each time she hits. She's a hoarder and giving up any of her money is really really hard. I understand the impulse, but it's got to be curbed.


WCM - your older daughter has a few self regulation issues, right? For this, I'd treat her like she was 2. Enforce the consequence, separate the kids and don't make a big deal out of it. Don't make her spend all day in her room, but perhaps spending time in  her room is a good thing if  it gives her a place to self-regulate.

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