22: toddler training


My biggest struggle these days has been how to get the toddler to mind when I tell him not to hit the baby.

Yes, hitting the baby is a thing.

Hopefully we’ll have a breakthrough soon, but it is my new sticking point/reason for losing my temper. Understandably so, but it still leaves you feel like a horrible mother afterwards.

One article I have really appreciated is by Sarah at Nurshable. Her toddler slapped her newest baby once and she offered to let him hold her. They kept doing that and eventually he stopped hitting and started asking to hold her instead.
I think that is genius. All ranger wants when he hits is attention and a way to interact with the baby.
I have been trying to remember to give this method a shot since the mommy yelling/punishing method isn’t working at all. When I am better at remembering to do that he will ask to hold her or give a her a kiss more often. So i think if I can choose the highroad and not let myself get worked up protecting my youngest baby I can then deal with the needs of my older baby without losing it.

My point is this- When your toddler hits the baby one of these days.. It’s not because your toddler is a mean abusive person that has to be yelled at in order for him to see his shameful ways. He’s doing it because he’s used to being the smallest one, and because he’s used to not really being able to hurt anyone around him. He doesn’t know what it is that he’s doing. He hasn’t developed empathy yet. He doesn’t know what a baby is.

Be gentle. Teach love. Teach empathy. Show him what he CAN do. Show him how to talk to the baby, wave to the baby, hold the baby’s hands. Recognize that he truly wants to interact, and show him how to interact in good ways. Show him that you love him and that you want to show him how awesomely cool his little sister or his little brother is. Recognize when he’s trying to do something fun with the baby or be nurturing towards the baby and redirect him into something more appropriate.
Sarah @ Nurshable.

Another excellent point she makes in a different articles is that toddlers don’t often do things to just be malicious. If they do hit the baby or act in appropriately it is not to hurt or to annoy. Or maybe it is. But really what they need is to learn something from us. We need to teach into the hard moments.

If I yell at you, you will just learn that I yell.
If I punish you, you will just learn to avoid your sister.
If I always keep the two of you apart, you’ll never be close.

So as hard as it can be sometimes, I breathe. I ask myself “what is it that you need to learn right now?” and I show you.. With the understanding that I may need to show you many times before you’ll understand.
Two Paths in Toddler Discipline @Nurshable


This article has some helpful tips on adjusting to two. Here’s the one I struggle with the most:

Let the toddler still be a baby – Little Man still loves to be the baby. When he gets of the tub he asks to be swaddled and rocked like a baby. Every. Single. Time. I have chosen not to take that away from him, because he will always be my baby. I never want him to feel like Princess has replaced him in anyway. Even though he may not be able to put it into words, I feel like when he holds his arms up to me and asks to be the “baby” what he’s really asking is if I still love him the same way that I used to. He’s making sure my love has not changed. He’s my big boy, but he’s also my baby and he’s free to alternate between titles as much as he wants. “8 Ways to Help a Toddler Adjust to the New Baby” @ Beauty Through Imperfection.

And some good reminders and tips from Better Mom (click image to get to post):

I’m going to try to incorporate the “what do you need to learn now?” question into my routine.

How are you or did you discipline/teach in toddlerhood? It’s so hard!
What has been the most helpful thing for you?


7 thoughts on “22: toddler training

  1. We had problems with a rough big sister too. All that really worked for her was redirection and reinforcing that we are gentle with baby. It’s a process but it worked for us.


  2. Thank you so much for this series! I have a 17 month old rambunctious boy right now, and I’m 28 weeks pregnant with #2 – a girl, so they will be 20 months apart, and your posts are SO HELPFUL in parenting purposefully right now and as I plan for baby girl. Thank you for being open, honest, and using and recommending great resources for Christian parenting. Keep up the fantastic job!


  3. My firstborn was rough with my secondborn as a baby. It was hard. I was never so angry (and still am!) as when he hurt/hurts his brother. Now that #3 is here and he is older (now 4 years old) he is gentle with the new baby. And son #2 (2 years old) has luckily been gentle as well. Not sure if it’s a personality thing or second born thing.
    My oldest did say something about “breaking Daniel (the baby) in half” when he played one day and once I got over my shock, we had a good conversation about how he was frustrated when the baby cried all the time and what things we could all do to help the baby when he cried (including leaving the room if the crying was bothering him too much).


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