I agree with sweet pea. We didn't find any punishments that worked to stop ds hitting. I read ' how to talk so kids listen' and worked on the positives instead. Think about just one behaviour at a time that you want to change. So the hitting needs to stop. You need to put massive attention on all non hitting behaviour and completely ignore the hitting ( I used to move dd somewhere safe but not tell ds off). Then every time your dd is kind, gentle, plays nicely make so much fuss about how wonderful she is. We used a pasta pot system similar to the penny in a jar thing. Every time ds was kind a piece of pasta went into his pot. When the pot was full ( and you should try to make sure it's full on day 1 when you start) he got a prize. We used to show him the prize box a lot during the day too so he could see what he was going to get. Just tiny bits like lego mini figures, a comic etc nothing expensive. Never take a piece of pasta out, even if the behaviour is terrible. Only pay attention to positives. It sounds very different from the super nanny type approach but it really works. Ds is now nearly 7 and we use the same system on a daily basis. Currently it is for staying in bed til 6am and getting dressed without fuss.
Try something positive: really focus on the problem for a period of time, say a week. At the start of the week, tell her that you want her to try really hard not to do any hitting. Talk and talk about this, why she does it, what she could do instead, really get her thinking about it.
At the same time, create a reward system: if you don't hit until lunch, you can put a penny in the jar (or a matchstick, whatever - I use pennies because my husband is always leaving change lying around the house). 'I'm going to put the washing on, if you don't hit your sister, you can put a penny in the jar'. It doesn't matter if she wasn't even looking like she might hit - you are getting her to think about it, at a time when she is feeling calm.
Discuss what she would like as her reward at the end of the week, put a picture of that thing in your jar. You can put as many pennies in the jar as you like - every ten minutes while you remember it. At the end of the day, if she has been good, tell her, and let her put another penny in the jar... you get the picture! You can take pennies out too, but I found it worked better just to be very disappointed that I couldn't put a penny in at the end of the day because she had hit/tantrummed etc.
I am bad with reward charts etc. because I can never keep it up, but I find thin intense approach works because I can keep it up for a short time, which is usually enough to start adjusting the behaviour pattern.
My son couldn't care less about time out/naughty step. It was pointless so now we work with removing favourite toys or treats (for example, no tv after tea). This has worked for him really well and we seldom have to follow through after the initial threat/warning not all kids respond to time out. Just find what works for you.
How are you doing time out? We were told to give a clear warning "if you hit, you will have time out". Only one warning.
If she hits, after the warning, you immediately move her and stick her somewhere boring. Tell her she's in time out for hitting. Keep her there for three minutes.
At the end of time out ask her why she was in timeout. If she says she doesn't know, tell her simply "it was for hitting your sister". Then ask her what she should do next time (as I'm guessing she hits when her sister is taking something?). Tell her she should give her another toy or something.
Keep timeouts to a minimum and keep emotion out of it. Stay calm, calm voice etc etc.
Also look at when hitting happens. I have a 3.5 year old and 15 month old. Ds, my eldest, went through this because we (unfairly) expected him to put up with dd taking his toys etc etc. so we watch them play together closely and give ds tactics for dealing with DD. so for example keep telling ds to get dd a toy if he takes his, to call mummy for help etc etc. it's taken a while but he's getting there.
Also give you eldest space to play alone sometimes - again my eldest needs this especially when he's tired. So we keep them apart a bit and it keeps the peace.
I would just say that hitting for me is an automatic time out, as is any deliberate violence (I have similar age DC so similar issues!) I've followed Supernanny's guidelines on time out and have found them very useful.
Praising for good behaviour is key but you already do that! With my DS I also try to make him feel "helpful" by giving him "grown-up" jobs to do, he can't resist the opportunity to feel superior to his sister ! Good luck x
She has an awful habit of hitting , punching , kicking and slapping when she doesn't get her own way or if her baby sister (11 months) gets in her way or plays with her toys .
We normally give her a warning - but she will continue to hit during the warning then she ends up in time out - screams the place down , says sorry and it happens all over again !
She is very rough with her sister and I'm starting to lose patience with it . We praise her for all of the nice things no matter how small - "how kind for sharing Lilly " . "Well done for eating lunch Lilly " . "You're playing very nicely Lilly " etc etc .
The hitting has been going on for a long time now - about 6 months and that was after a previous period of the same thing .
It's only ever us she hits - no other children or adults .
We are consistent with time out but clearly it is not working !
What else can I try ? She's very articulate for her age and she understands its wrong .