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How do you get toddler/preschooler to stop hitting each other?

I babysit for a friend whose daughter will be 4 in may. I have my daughter with me while I watch her. My daughter is 2.5. Recently hitting and physical aggression has become an issue. And has been more occurring more in the last 2 or 3 weeks. Sometimes, but rarely, my daughter is the instigator, but more often then not the older child starts the behavior. It's usually because one child has a toy that the other feels she should have and vice versa. The older child is a very possessive of her toys, and will often take a toy away from my daughter for no reason at all other than the fact she doesnt want her to play with it. She will try and pull it out of her hands and when my daughter resists she will then grab my daughters arm/hand or whatever she can hold on to and try to force it away from her. Sometimes she will just slap her. With or without reason. I know why they hit, and I know they are both guilty of hitting each other. But i feel like the older child is the bigger aggressor. I am fearful that the hitting is escalating to more physical fights and am afraid that it might result in a more serious injury. Especially after today. I walked away from them to answer the door and immediately heard them screaming. I ran to the room to find the older child with her hands around the base of my daughters neck. Leaving red marks, that quickly dissapeared. I was ready to quit today. I have tried seperating them on many occasions, time outs and explaining to them that hitting is not okay. The last couple weeks I have stressed a NO TOUCHING rule. And am finding that nothing is working. I've voiced concern to the other parent and get a response like " Oh , they are like sisters." I feel like its a cop-out and as though the problem is getting swept under the rug. What should I do? I don't want to quit, but I feel like it might be my only option to aleviate the problem and my stress.

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Asked by LeesesMom at 6:56 PM on Apr. 27, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 5 (88 Credits)
Answers (3)
  • Ultimately, you have to do what you feel is best for you and your child. I would probably sit down to a serious conversation with the girl's parents and let them know that it is becoming a huge stress for you and that if the problem persists that you will no longer be able to watch her.

    Answer by Kword at 7:03 PM on Apr. 27, 2011

  • It sounds like you are handling it the way that you can. When my kids were going through that, I sat right next to them at all times. When I saw one of them move to aggress, I would pick hi/her up, put them down in another part of the room, and firmly say, "Gentle only." The phase passed, for the most part, but my son is two, so he still tries to get physical every once in a while. he now does time-outs and apologizing. It was extra work, for sure, but they are both my kids, so I have to be on top of discipline to stop it.
    If one of the kids had been a babysitiing kid . . . I don't know if I would have been able to put up with it as well. I would certainly be tempted to stop watching the other kid if mom was not willing to be a part of the solution.
    Hard work! Wow!
    I don't think you can be blamed for rethinking the arrangement.

    Answer by ImaginationMama at 7:14 PM on Apr. 27, 2011

  • Keep doing what you're doing in terms of using the time out technique for sure. In the mean time, try focusing on the positive: when they're playing nicely together, compliment them on it every so often and be specific (especially when one let's the other have a turn with something). If you leave the room for a sec and WWIII doesn't break out, compliment them on it when you return. When there is a toy they both like tell them "when I say ding-ding" or "when the timer goes off" it's x's turn with that toy and switch off so each girl gets a chance. Hang in there.

    Answer by twinclubmom at 9:17 PM on Apr. 27, 2011

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