My 3 1/2 year old is constantly playing too rough with my 1 year old. He hits him and has taught him to hit and be rough too. What can I do?

Make sure your children have separate toys and play areas and time scheduled into the day that is for playing alone or looking at books alone. It is asking too much of anyone to be with some one else all the time and keep it peaceful. Watch them for a few days to best determine when those times need to be. In my experience they need to be before meals, with alone book time after lunch to calm down for rest time.

Take lots of time for training with both of them on what is acceptable behavior and how we touch each other respectfully and how we use words to communicate rather than our bodies. Plan on practicing one skill a day for a few minutes, every day until they can interact more appropriately. Make it fun. It’s going to take alot of practicing.

When they do hit each other have them follow up with an apology note, yes write it down, they can dictate it to you. Try this format:

“Dear Bob,
I apologize for hitting you. I was angry that you took my truck. I will use my words when I’m mad the next time. To make it up I would like to play in the sandbox with you after snack.” Tom

Make sure to help them follow through with their amends.

Decide as a family what the consequences will be when they use their bodies to react instead of words. Instead of taking sides, put them in the same boat, so that they each experience the same consequence each time. Children often get into squabbles to get our attention. When we stop getting involved by taking sides, the squabbles decrease. I suggest they each go to their separate areas to do something to help themselves fell better and then come back when they are ready to write their apology notes.

Lastly set up “wrestling time” on a mat, other soft surface so that they can look forward to having a time specifically for interacting physically. Make it short and whenever possible have mom or dad join in too.