constantly fighting

Cynthia - posted on 03/14/2010 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I have a 6 year old daughter and a 5 year old son. my daughter is constantly hitting my son. she bites him, chokes him, hits him, kicks him, everything. i have tried time outs, taking away favorite toys, taking away t.v. time and computer time. nothing works. she just gets madder and hits him again. now he is starting to hit back and pulls her hair. it just seems to get worse. any suggestions would be very helpful.

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Rebecca - posted on 03/15/2010

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.... it's always hard to know what to say to someone who claims to have tried everything ;) .. which i note many mother's here say ... LoL!

i don't know what has been tried and what has not been tried, but the list above describes a list of PUNISHMENTS being used as an intervention. I only use punishment as an intervention as a natural consequence of what is happening, or if i use time out --- it is to give me time out to regroup.

when it comes to hitting and fighting, i would not use natural consequences strategy, as the natural consequence is that someone gets seriously hurt.

first of all, i recommend a book called 'siblings without rivalry' ... it has numerous strategies in it that do not constitute punishment. i can't do justice to the subject in the way that a whole book does, but i'll try and summarise an approach ... you can come back again once you have tried the approach if it doesn't work, and say so, and i can suggest another, or you can try the approach and if it doesn't work get the book (altho i think the book works best in tandem with the authors other two books -- how to talk so your kids will listen AND liberated parents, liberated children).

(so making up a scenario to show what i mean in practice.)

Daughter is choking Son
YOU: Stop choking your brother.
Daughter stops.
YOU: You must be feeling very angry with your brother to want to hurt him so much. What made you so angry?
Daughter answers.
YOU: I understand why you are angry, but hurting your brother is not an appropriate response. Can you think of another way of letting your brother know you were angry?
(She may or may not give examples, but give her a chance first. If she gives one suggestion, you give one and ask her for another and you have a back and forth exchange of different ways of dealing with anger.... throw in some funny responses to anger because that helps the lesson stick and also lightens the mood.)

YOU: Hitting, choking, etc are not allowed in this house. If you are angry you should (refer back to the list you made) or walk away until you can calm down. You hurt your brother; apologise to him.

Encourage them to hug and make up.


HOWEVER: if you have a chance to intervene before the violence starts, but when the nasty verbal exchanges start, simply ask them what precipitated the fight, acknowledge their feelings, then say, for example:

I see one car toy and two children who want to play with it. That is a difficult problem. But I am confident you two can come up with a solution if you talk to each other in a nice way.

Then walk away. If they start bickering again go back and remind them to talk to each other using manners -- e.g. please and thank you.

I have found these approaches to be effective.

Cynthia - posted on 03/14/2010

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I know the behavior started because of jealousy, I have tried to give her more special time the problem is it started taking too much time away from my son. she was insisting on all my time. I have already asked her how does she like it when he hits her and she says she doesnt so i tell her how do you think your brother feels when you do it to him, but she still does it. She is already mommy's big helper but that doesnt help either. i have also tried to tell her that if she needs to hit something hit her pillow or when she is really mad to scream real loud into her pillow, but that still doesnt help. im just worried that one day she will hurt him enough to have to go to the hospital. it actually gets that bad.

Katherine - posted on 03/14/2010

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I understand where you are coming from, been there, your daughter may feel as though she is not getting enough attention from you, and she is fighting to get your attention, my suggestion would be to put her in bed last every night and talk with her for a little while about the day, school, friends, and gradually and then every night talk a little more about her not hitting brother, (he is just pretty much copying her behavior and defending himself it sounds like) talk about loving her and him, and talk to her about helping you care for him, and then let her do things like help with cooking or cleaning and say brother is not big enough to help just yet, so can you be a big girl and help, then if she hits or is ugly to brother say something like sister, mommy needs you to be a big girl and help and not fight with brother ok? and it will take some time, nothing is going to fix it overnight, but you have to refocus her behavior, hope this helps.

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