Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Backwards WFMW - Toddler hitting

Well, we're just over a week into bringing a new baby into our family. Overall, it's been a smooth transition and everybody is doing well with the change. Big sister (22 months old) loves on her little sister every time she sees her, whether she's sleeping, or eating, or sleeping. She's a big fan already and wants to give her kisses and hugs constantly.

Last night, however, we encountered a small problem.

In the midst of me nursing the baby, big sister was giving kisses and I was talking to her... telling her how nice she was being, that she's such a good big sister, etc. etc. Then she goes and bonks the baby on her head. My first reaction was to bonk her back - obviously the baby couldn't defend herself the way I could defend her, right? This reaction brought me to tears, and left me feeling awful. I know you can't teach a child not to hit by hitting - one reason I'm not a fan of spanking. My second reaction was to yell NO and let daddy take over the discipline from there.

She has had past history of hitting and biting on occasion, but these instances are few and far between and have only been directed toward her daddy or I. We have been fortunate enough to not have to discipline too often. On the occasion that we do, we use time out. Daddy set her into time out last night and she cried and wailed and screamed and cried some more. Daddy repeated to her that we do not hit and she eventually was released from time out coming back to see me and the baby. I too reiterated that we do not hit and we must be gentle with the baby...

All just in time for her to bonk her on the head again after a few more kisses (a tad more gently this time, but still!)

So daddy fetched her up and took her straight to bed. She screamed in bed and she wailed and when she finally settled down we went in and told her that hitting was not nice, we do not hit. And basically turned out the light for her to fall asleep in her clothes and without a bedtime routine. Thankfully she was tired and doesn't need a routine on a consistent basis to sleep well. She slept all night.

So, after all of that... I need suggestions. I need help! How do I keep my toddler from hitting, especially her baby sister. Thanks in advance for your knowledge!!!

More backwards WFMW posts can be found at We are that Family


Lacey said...

Aiden paid no attention to Alexander when he first came home. They are two years apart. Then one day when Alex was two months old, he bit him. I made him lay in his bed and "think". I would just make sure to give Em alone time with you and with Daddy. Maybe let her go to the store with you and let the baby stay home. That always seems to make things better at our house.

Anonymous said...

It always helped for me to make my older understand how SHE would feel if someone did that to her. Also I rewarded he good behavior with special times during naps. We could color or cook, or play a game. If we had any problems she would spend nap time alone in her room thinking about what she had done. Also it seemed the more she was involved in caring for her baby sister, the better she was. It gave her a sense of purpose and responsibility for her baby sister. My daughters are 24 months apart, 2 and 4, and are the greatest of friends.

Erica said...

Oh my goodness. Calvin is going through a hitting stage again. We had a little respite the last few weeks, PTL, but it's back again. I know this hitting is because he has a lack of language right now, so we're just helping him with the words and of course he has been in time out a lot lately.

I've really tried to tell him what to do, be gentle, say help me, but it's frustrating for me to be in the middle of cooking dinner and have a little guy swinging at me. I've tried to pinpoint when it is happening and tried to provide Calvin with an activity or something that doesn't frustrate him. It's helped but we have to keep up the discipline, which is tiring.

So here's my Early Childhood answer for you. See if you notice a trend in when the hitting happens, when you're nursing or a specific time of the day. If it happens when you are nursing maybe give E a special activity or spend time with her before you nurse (I know you're probablly not in a routine yet, so this might not work). You may just have to remove yourself from the room she is in for the safety of your newborn. It sounds like E is adjusting like any other toddler to a new baby. WHen you think about it there is a lot to adjust to, she's just trying to figure out here new role as a Big Sister. You're doing a great job!

Devion said...

I think that you're doing everything correctly. Love and logic would say to immediately take her to her room, tell her that we do not hit, tell her she can come out when she is ready to use her hands for nice things, and leave her there to make her own choice about when to come out. I would also say things like, "Only girls who are nice with their hands get cookies." or "Girls who hit don't get snacks, dessert, treats, etc." Use statements that are not threats, but are enforceable.

Have you read the "I'm a Big Sister" book? Cassie loves it. It talks about babies, about the big sister responsibility, etc. Might try that.

Hope it ends soon!

Rochelle said...

This sounds crazy but I went through this with a 17 month old and a newborn.

I tried everything in the book to try to get her to stop biting the baby.

It came down to me totally ignoring her after it happened and paying attention to the baby. Saying things like, "Oh, that hurt you so much, didn't it?" Giving the toddler no attention at all but letting her hear your words.
It finally stopped after about 2 or 3 days of NOT getting on to her.

She's doing it for attention and she's getting the attention when she's getting in trouble. Make sure not to make the problem worse.