Stopping your toddler's sibling squabbles

My two-year-old daughter hits her four-year-old brother on a regular basis. He's the only target and it seems to me that she is frustrated by something he has done. She has a very large vocabulary and I always encourage her (after the fact) to tell him what it is she wants. I have tried the time out method and it just doesn't work. How can I stop her from hitting her brother?

Question:

I'm not surprised that time out hasn't worked on your 27-month-old child. You are right -- it's not very effective for children under three. Actually, time out really is only effective between the ages of three and about four and a half. After that, children need conflict resolution. They need to talk about whatever happened to upset them.

Talking won't help your little girl to stop her behavior yet, as she is really too young to control her impulses. It is a very good idea to keep getting her to talk after the fact, because that will help later, as she gains more control.

For now, the only thing that really works is removal from the situation. If she is playing with her brother and hits him, she can't play any more. Take her into another room. If they are watching TV and she hits him, take her immediately into another room. Each time she hits, and is removed from the situation, you repeat the rule: WE DON'T HIT. She'll catch on eventually. Although this is a hard rule for parents to follow consistently, it is what needs to be done.

Your daughter probably hits her brother because he is the closest person her age who's around. More than likely, she'll just need to outgrow the stage.

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