New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-01-2013

4 y/o developing hitting / manipulation problems

[ Edited ]

Hi there,


I'm new to these forums, but hoping I can get (and contribute) some good insight and advice although, unfortunately, today I'm soliciting the former. 


We have a 4 and 3 y/o (both girls), separated by 18 months. Recently, our 4 y/o has taken to punching her younger sister. We've tried timeouts, taking away toys, and talking to her, but apart from the epic tantrums that result, we're getting nowhere. "Sorry" is little more than a word, and I suspect she's gotten used to saying it and then getting her way after the fact. 


Today, after fists were thrown on 3 separate occasions, we told the older one she's no longer allowed to go to the zoo in 2 two weeks--no ifs, ands, or buts. We were/are hoping that this will be a lesson to her to think about her actions before throwing fists, but she's now manipulated her younger sister into believing that the zoo is stupid, so now the younger sister wants to stay home too. 


The next thing we're thinking about trying is taking away Christmas presents (we do very few to try not to spoil them) and making her donate them instead. I can handle the tantrums and I'm okay with getting her nothing for Christmas if that's what will stop the fist throwing. 


Any advice from others who have successfully gotten through this? 




New Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎12-03-2013

Re: 4 y/o developing hitting / manipulation problems

You say that you take toys away as a form of punishment, but you also state in the same paragraph that she gets her way after apologizing. My first thought would be to have her toys be off limits for longer periods of time.

As for the zoo thing, I have always had better luck when restrictions have more immediacy to them. Let's say your daughter does great for the next two weeks with no outbursts or hitting. Then when zoo day comes along and she then remembers she isn't allowed to go she will be quite upset about being punished for what happened, in her mind, ages ago. I would stick to taking away privileges immediately, then continue the restriction for a few days if it's warranted.

But more importantly, why is she acting out in the first place? Is she randomly running up to her sister and hitting her without provocation? Or is this an escalation from rough housing? If there are signs that you can see before she hits her sister, try to stop it before it even gets to that level.

On a side note, our family gets gifts specifically to donate every year. I think it's a wonderful tradition to have and pass on to your daughters.
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New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-01-2013

Re: 4 y/o developing hitting / manipulation problems

Thanks. That's a good point re: the immediacy of punishment. I'd been thinking about the same thing and that denying her the zoo two weeks into the future wouldn't be a good idea. 


The hitting is always the result of tantrums involving her younger sister that just escalate. I'd say they typically begin when they're in the room together (i.e., unsupervised), but it's tough to keep an eye on them in the house for all minutes that they're awake. Not sharing, not getting something the moment she wants it, etc., are among the scenarios that cause this. 


I think she may be a bit jealous. Her younger sister requires more attention getting dressed, filling up a cup of water, etc., and I think she sees her parents spending more time with her sister than with her, and it may not sit well with her. We're planning on trying to spend more one-on-one time with her so that she understands that she's loved just as much. 



Occasional Contributor
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎12-04-2013

Re: 4 y/o developing hitting / manipulation problems


I have some articles for you, that you might find helpful.  These sites also have a lot of awesome material to sift through.


Here is a wonderful audio on tantrums.  Puts it all in a very new perspective.

New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-01-2013

Re: 4 y/o developing hitting / manipulation problems

These are excellent and insightful articles. Thanks for sharing them! 


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