Ways to respond to a toddler who slaps or pushes his older sister.

Toddler taming

If a toddler slaps or pushes his older sister, ask yourself what is the intention of the behaviour? It is to get attention. Unfortunately the wrong kind of attention. The more attention you notice them, the less attention they seek!

Punishment is counterproductive and time out just makes things worse.

Meet their need for your attention

The more positive attention you give, the less negative attention he will seek, so carve out some one-to-one time for him as most behaviour is prompted by a feeling.

Handling misbehaviour

Take the focus off the behaviour, and put your focus on having a good relationship with him. If the only way they can get our attention is by slapping and pushing his sister, then we need see how quickly we respond to that and recognise what he needs.

What’s the reason for their behaviour?

All behaviour has a reason and is prompted by a feeling. When we respond with punishments, it becomes a negative cycle and the child may feel I am bad, bad, bad (and let me show you just how bad I can be). Instead, Catch Him being good for every little thing, even if this means in the short term, ignoring negative behaviour.

Catch your child being good

We do this as All Behaviour Reinforces, so the more you notice what he is doing right, the more right he will do.

Responding to bad behaviour

Simply gently drop his hand down and see ‘Sisters are for loving, not for shoving’. instead , stay close by, use distraction, and re direct his behaviour earlier, use humour and do not take  sides (as this will only make him feel worse/less loved etc.). He will love being praised and you will see him blossom with positive attention and 1:1 time.

 Parent should be kind, firm but not cross

  • Say Stop, No Pushing – put the other child out of reach
  • Acknowledge the feeling – ‘Do you feel left out?’

‘When you feel that, you can come to me and I will make time for you, but I cannot allow you to hurt your sister’

  All behaviour makes sense:

  • What is the feeling? Maybe he feel’s felt out. Then punishment just makes that feeling worse.
  • What happens when he hits? He gets attention.

Therefore, give attention earlier, before he uses his behaviour to demand it as being good maybe went unnoticed.

Now, does his behaviour make more sense?

How might you respond in a way that would meet his unmet need for more attention (positive)? The more you give that, the less he will need his negative behaviour.

When they deserve your love the least, they actually need it the most.

The Best Response to bad behaviour is compassion.

The greatest discipline mistake parents make is: Giving the wrong kind of attention. If a child is acting out, we need to ask ‘why?’ It usually means they are feeling bad and maybe a little unloved. Rewarding that tantrum or poor behaviour with your attention means you simply get more of it as all behaviour reinforces.

Planned Ignoring of poor behaviour

Ignore the poor behaviour, and ‘catch the child being good’ with a star chart give out regular stars every time you notice something good they have done. All behaviour reinforces, so the more you tell them what they are doing right, the more ‘right’ they will do!

Notice good behaviour instead

Spend 8 minutes a day of 1:1 time, to ensure they feel loved, valued and secure. Then watch them blossom and the poor behaviour will reduce as the child begins to feel better in themselves and seen for doing ‘right’ not wrong!