How Should I Discipline My Son?

Dear Sara,

My four-year-old son has been pinching his eighteen-month-old sister. She runs to me for comfort and it takes me a while to calm her down. I have put my son in time out but this doesn’t seem to help. Would it be OK to pinch him when he does this to his sister?

Dear Meg,

It may be that your son has found a way to get your attention even if it is negative attention. You have to think about what you would be teaching him if you decided to pinch him. Kids learn a lot from the way their parents treat them and in this instance your son would learn that it’s OK to hurt someone and this certainly is not something that you would want to teach him.

Sometimes when kids are jealous of the attention that a younger sibling gets, they will act out toward them. If his sister is getting a lot of attention this could be his way of trying to make sure Mom notices him. Be sure to give your son lots of attention when he is behaving appropriately to his sister. If time out isn’t effective, you might try taking away one of his valued toys for a while. Your son needs to learn to be nice to his sister but pinching him isn’t the way to do this.