Attack of the Toddler

When Your Child Is the Victim

Here's how to handle two common toddler tussles.

The Playdate Bully

One of your son's pals swats him -- in full view of you and the other mom.

What to do: "Hopefully, the other child's parent will step in and discipline him," says Dr. Jennifer Shu. "If she doesn't, it's okay for you to say to the other child, 'We don't do that in our house,' then spend a few moments comforting your son." If the kids normally play well together, this could be a sign that they're getting tired or hungry, so it may be best to end the get-together.

The Daycare Terror

Your daughter comes home from daycare with a bite mark on her arm.

What to do: Ask your childcare provider what happened to your little one's arm, then find out how she handled the situation. "You need to make sure that she responded appropriately, such as by separating the children, and that she spoke to the other child's parents," says Dr. Shu. If this happens more than once or twice, however, consider switching daycare providers. It could be a sign that the children aren't being closely watched.

Don't You Hit, Either!

Even if you believe that spanking is appropriate discipline for an older child, you should never spank a 1-year-old.

"At this age, your child is developmentally unable to connect your hitting him -- however gently -- with anything that he may have done," explains Dr. Stanley Turecki.

What about putting your child in a time-out? Unfortunately, this may not be an effective method of discipline for a child under 2, since it's still too difficult for a toddler to connect the punishment with the crime.

"The best way to discipline a 1-year-old is to be swift and stern," says Dr. Jennifer Shu. "Promptly remove him from the situation; then let him know that hitting and biting are not okay."

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