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Ask Babs: When your toddler hits his newborn sis

by Babs Hadjusiewicz July 01, 2015

Q: How should I respond when my 2-year-old tries to hit her newborn sister? Should I ignore it, or should I discipline her?

A: Notice it and approve it. Your noticing it addresses everyone's need for protection. You'll approve it by diving in to take advantage of this perfect opportunity to be your Two’s first best teacher.

This “hit” is your toddler's way of showing interest, coupled with her wish to connect. She’s also showing that she doesn’t have a clue how to explore this “thing.” After all, your Two is thinking, this thing everyone calls “the baby" appears to be here to stay. She’s learned that touching is a useful way to explore and learn about things around her. So now’s a great time for “I Touch Gently,” a little poem that can help all three of you get your needs met.
When you see your Two going near the baby, hover over and use your index finger to model how you touch Baby ever so gently. At the same time, begin to say these words softly and lovingly (or sing to "Are You Sleeping?” tune):

I touch gently.
I touch gently.
Watch me touch.
Watch me touch.
Look how I touch gently.
Look how I touch gently.
Watch me touch.
Watch me touch.

Continue using the words and your finger to model how you can touch Baby, your own arm, your toddler’s arm, and something else right there by you. Then touch Baby again. Touching your Two as part of this routine allows her to feel how lightly your finger comes to rest on her skin.
Model all this gentle touching and speaking until your toddler begins to touch the baby just as gently as you’ve shown her. Keep in mind while that you know this touching skill, she doesn’t. So at first, she may need your finger to gently guide hers.
Now it’s time to help your Toddler Two move on to another activity. Moving on helps focus your toddler on other important things in her life. It also gives her––and you––opportunities to try out that new tool she’s just learned. Soon, she will look to you as she reaches out to touch something. She’s asking if it’s fragile like Baby. She’s also asking you to repeat those meaningful words––those words about touching.
Notice that you’ve stayed focused on your child’s need to learn while helping her connect with the new baby. You’ve kept your cool and been positive while managing to keep everyone safe. And you’ve modeled in context a useful WOW! Word™ http://www.ilikeme.com/this-weeks-wow-word-available,
vocabulary that you and your Two will use again and again.
With your gentle guidance and the little poem, your Toddler Two will soon be reminding you to touch gently! Happy touching!

P.S. This is also a great Talking Op™, a time to help her develop more oral vocabulary. Model the use of synonyms interchangeably by tossing into your “touching gently” conversations these words and others with similar meanings––gentle and careful, fragile and delicate and breakable, gently and carefully.

WOW! Word is a trademark of Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz.
Talking Op is a trademark of Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz.
“I Touch Gently” Copyright © 2014 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

Copyright © 2015 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz




Babs Hadjusiewicz
Babs Hadjusiewicz

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