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Accepted way to stop toddler hitting baby???

(14 Posts)
edwardTheConfessor Sat 13-Aug-11 10:50:18

DS (3), regularly hits DD (9mth). I have to watch like a hawk to prevent the worst/bulk of it. Makes my blood boil and want to lash out. fwiw I don't hit my children. Can bark at DS and use naughty step (this has to be rationed now otherwise has little influence) though.

What's the accepted way of both stopping a toddler hitting a baby and disciplining them?

FlamingoBingo Sat 13-Aug-11 10:55:52

Wouldn't bother with naughty step tbh.

I think for a 3yo, it's just repeated calm, loving explanation of why he shouldn't hit, and help with other ways of dealing with whatever frustration he has.

Do you know why he's hitting the baby? Is he jealous? Does she take up a lot of your time and attention?

Usually hitting is a symptom of a child needing more of you, so maybe finding time to do more with him, and encouraging him to help you play with your baby so that he can see that you can do things as a 'team' together, and it doesn't have to be just him or her IYSWIM.

Lots and lots of cuddles and kisses - demonstrative love. He may be feeling very insecure, especially if every time he hits, you express to him that you don't love him when he's like that (even if you don't mean to express that to him, subconsciously he's bound to pick it up). That frightens them and can make them behave worse, not better.

IMO, your job when it's a 3yo isn't to punish the behaviour out of him, but to help him to work out a better way to behave, and to work out the root cause of it and try to sort it out from there.

Octaviapink Sat 13-Aug-11 14:00:54

DD has a timeout when she hits DS (or pokes him in the eye, bites him, kicks him, wallops him with a stick etc) until she says sorry. We say 'No hitting, hitting hurts' and she goes into another room until she's ready to say sorry. It's nearly always when she's a bit tired or hungry so I do my best to pre-empt danger times and she's a lot better than she was but it still happens occasionally. It's the ONLY thing we use timeout for and we don't use a naughty step or other punishments. Basically she doesn't get 'punished' - discipline is about teaching (that's its literal meaning) so it's usually more effective to explain why I don't want her to do something.

FlamingoBingo Sat 13-Aug-11 18:17:34

I don't understand that, though, Octavia. Don't you think timeout feels like punishment to her? And what if she doesn't feel sorry? What if she is so angry with her brother's presence and it's effect (just making assumptions - obviously I don't know why she hits!) that she really doesn't feel sorry? Should she still say she is?

Octaviapink Sat 13-Aug-11 19:17:59

Well the idea is it's more a chance to cool down. We don't take away toys or restrict treats or any of the other traditional punishments.

At the moment I think whether she 'feels' sorry isn't totally necessary. 2-year olds aren't great with empathy - she understands that when she hits her brother she will be removed from his presence until she performs a particular action (ie saying sorry). It's true that that action may be meaningless to her, but then so is saying 'please' and 'thank you'. She doesn't understand about manners any more than she does about empathy but knowing how to behave in a particular situation is halfway there. Just as she knows that saying 'please' generally results in getting what she wants, she knows that saying sorry brings the incident to a close.

Sleepglorioussleep Sat 13-Aug-11 19:45:56

I think octavia and flamingo represent the two main philosophies of dealing with thus kind of thing. I can so often see both sides, and I understand where you're both coming from. I also think that sometimes different children respond better to different styles. My dd definitely works better with a certain amount of loving her through it but also to logical consequences to her behaviour. In this situation, I would see being removed from the room if you are hurting someone in it as a logical consequence for the behaviour. Of course, any child with little siblings needs loads of reassurance that you love them especially since babies and siblings in general will dilute the time you have for the older child. But there might be an unacceptable amount of hitting of smaller children to go through before they learn through the loving way. You might be on board with that style, but if anyone else's children are involved you might find them less tolerant. I have seen this with a friend of mine whose child constantly hits when things are too difficult for him. I limit how often I see them now because the consequence for his behaviour was my dd getting an explanation of why her ds had hit her and it was too confusing for her. My ds has has a biting phase and I've removed him from the play and expected him to say sorry. I also apologise to the parent, however nice they are about the incident. And I can see that there's a reason why he does it-he has been slow to talk and it always happens when he's unable to say what he wants/feels and it comes out of frustration. Cold comfort to the parent of the child who's been bitten though.

FlamingoBingo Sat 13-Aug-11 21:22:15

I've had four two year olds, Octavia, and I really disagree that a 2 year old doesn't understand what they're doing when they're using good manners. THey certainly won't ever learn the meaning of them if they're forced upon them. I've always asked once that they say please/thank you/sorry and if they don't, then I say it for them if whoever it is is the sort of person to make a fuss if they don't.

I can promise you that they have all learnt wonderful manners, and they actually understand the point of them -they've not been learned by rote, and they don't do them because they don't want the 'consequences' - they use them because they really, genuinely understand them. Even my 2 year old!

Of course removing a child from danger is vitally important, but refusing to let the hitting child back in the room until they've done something that means nothing to them? I just don't understand what that's meant to teach them, other than 'if you don't say this word then I won't let you play' (which translates to 'don't love you' when you're only 2!)

petisa Sat 13-Aug-11 22:52:39

I veer between Octavia and FlamingoBingo depending on how stressed I am! And how recently I have read a chapter of Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves, which I use to try and stop myself from being a horrible harridan of a mother!

I have 2 dds - 3.4 years and 11 months, and dd1 sometimes hits dd2, kicks her, pushes her over, pokes her in the eye, gets a bit too rough with play, screams right in dd2's face really loud... she doesn't do any of this very hard, just hard enough to make dd2 cry. It's not all the time but there are usually a couple of clashes a day. I am currently effectively a lone parent as dp is living abroad for work, and I get v stressed at times and claustrophobic due to lack of time alone.

I use the naughty step when dd1 is really out of order, I also have a jar of beads and every day dd1 gets a bead if she doesn't hit or kick or push over. If she does a bead gets taken away. When the jar is full we'll have a nice outing as a treat. So, reward and punishment. I do also gently ask her to look at dd2's face when she's made her cry and explain why she is sad, because hitting hurts, to try and help her develop empathy. I also hug dd1 when I see she's starting to work herself up to hitting and kicking etc, or start joking with her or try to distract her with a game, activity or puzzle.

I also try to "validate" her emotions when she's hitting, so for example I'll say "You hit dd2 because she was trying to take the toy you were playing with and that made you cross, didn't it." I say I understand why she feels like she does, etc and that helps a lot. Sometimes if she's starting to kick I ask her to kick her teddy instead and am thinking about getting an angry cushion to divert her aggression.

Validating and diverting her aggression seem to work v v well so I am trying to move away from naughty step, but mostly am just trying to muddle through relatively sane. HTH!

Indaba Sat 13-Aug-11 22:59:56

mate recommended to me to get my older children to tickle babies feet....thus it allows them to touch the baby and keeps them away from babies head etc.

mathanxiety Sat 13-Aug-11 23:58:04

I always got right down in their faces, grabbed their arms, and yelled NOOOO!!! WE DO NOT HIT THE BABY!!!!!!

Scared them silly. First time was the last time for every one of them.

I think it got their attention because I was usually quiet-spoken. I also tried my best to make sure toddlers were not bored or feeling left out due to having the baby around. I roped them in to 'help' me and made them feel special by praising them and thanking them for big girl behaviour and attitude.

I never bothered with the naughty step. If someone was throwing tantrum after tantrum I sent her to her room until she was able to be civil. I never bothered with insisting on 'sorry' either. I would ask the culprit when she came from her room if she was ready to behave herself and if there was a nod or a yes then I would ask if she understood that she had been sent to her room because she had chosen to scream/ be rough or inconsiderate with other children instead of using words and that she must choose better next time she felt frustrated -- if this was understood she got sent on her way to play nicely. Usually the niceness lasted for a good while.

They have all grown to have decent manners and to be considerate of other people.

Octaviapink Sun 14-Aug-11 07:44:13

There have been a couple of occasions, mathanxiety, when I've yelled and regretted it instantly - and it doesn't work here. Maybe you're a lot scarier than I am when I yell! Also I don't believe in scaring them into good behaviour - my parents were very much of the 'fear' approach and I vowed I wouldn't be that sort of parent.

Flamingo, my point is that it doesn't matter that toddlers don't fully understand why they have to say please and thank you (and I don't believe for a moment that all two-year-olds have a thorough grasp of why politeness is important in society and what courtesies mean in the wider sense!). DD has excellent manners, but she doesn't understand why adding 'please' to something gets a better result than just asking for it. She just knows it works and that's fine. I view saying sorry in the same light - when she's older she will understand others' feelings more and why the apology is important. For now I'm happy that she just does it whether she 'feels' sorry or not. For the record, I'm quite sure that when she says sorry she is sorry. She's not one of those children who fling a cheerful 'sorry!' at you while gaily going their way.

The timeout is useful for several reasons. It gives me a response that doesn't involve yelling, hitting or losing my temper - which I believe are good things for her to learn in terms of responding to something that makes me angry. It gives her time to get herself back under control - and I know that she wants this. When she's hit out it's usually frustration or random violence and I can tell you she doesn't want to do it. That's why the removal is an appropriate response. Some sort of consequence is reassuring to toddlers because they know they've done something wrong. Consequences of wrongdoing are crucial. I'm not saying she wants to be punished, but she is reassured to know that when she breaks a rule, there is a result. Toddlers like to know that their boundaries are solid! I believe DD understands that she's still loved when she's removed from the room and that we're helping her to learn to control her behaviour.

Finally, I would say that I think there isn't one perfect response to sibling violence. I've read Toddler Taming and various other books and various responses (for various reasons) are recommended (I was pretty horrified to read in Toddler Taming that in his view you should let the older child do what violence it wants to the baby!). We've found a route that works for the baby, for DD and for us - and now that DS is a bit older they are starting to play together well, and the incidents of violence have gone down to about three a week tops.

mathanxiety Mon 15-Aug-11 20:22:15

The only behaviour I yelled for was dangerous behaviour -- dangerous to self or others. So running out on the street or hitting/injuring the baby would be just about it. The reason to yell was to make sure the specific prohibition on dangerous actions was understood and memorable, not to encourage general good behaviour -- for that, I used my normal indoor voice and explanations of why certain behaviiour was not OK, focusing on the feelings of others, and also tried to catch them being good.

mathanxiety Mon 15-Aug-11 20:23:21

shock at that Toddler Taming advice, OctaviaPink.

edwardTheConfessor Wed 17-Aug-11 22:27:23

all good advice here - will aim to move to timeout. Didn't realise there was a difference as such.

would like to know toddler taming reasoning behind letting the older child commit violence upon the younger

all I need to do now is manage my instantaneous temper explosion when DS does hit DD....

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