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Stop Poking the Baby

​​"If you hit your little sister one more time, I will slap you!"

Okay. You said it. Now what? If you follow through on the threat, you engage in exactly the same behavior you're trying to stop, and you will hurt your child.

What can you do if your toddler can't seem to stop hitting, jabbing, pushing or poking a younger sibling?

Monitoring whereabouts

A baby should never be left alone in any area where other young children - or pets - have unrestricted access to him or her.

Many parents choose to wear a sling that holds the baby close to them. The sling gives parents the freedom to move their arms and perform multiple tasks while still holding the baby. It also makes it difficult for a toddler to reach up and poke or prod.

Teaching appropriate touch

Help your child understand that babies need to be handled with care. You can teach your toddler gentle touch using a "pretend baby," such as a doll.

Teaching your toddler how to act around the baby may take several weeks. It is not a "one-and-done" learning experience. Use the doll to demonstrate good touching and playing behaviors. Practice with your toddler. When he or she consistently displays good behavior with the doll, reward your toddler with more supervised time with the baby.

Catch 'em being good

"Baby bucks" can be a reward system for your toddler's good behavior. Each buck a child earns for good behavior can be turned in for a reward or treat, such as watching a video, getting a special snack, reading an extra bedtime story or spending more time with you and the baby.

The rewards should be directly linked to your toddler's behavior with the baby. Rewards and consequences (for bad behavior) should be significant and important to your child. As your toddler's behavior improves, you can reduce the rewards and focus on other behaviors he or she struggles with.

For more helpful ideas, take a look at Help! There'​s a Toddler in the House!