Whats with All the Fighting???

Updated on October 01, 2008
E.B. asks from Tacoma, WA
7 answers

My three year old and almost two year old had been getting along better then I could have ever imagined. Until recently! My two year old now tries to pick fights with the three year old. they can be playing quietly apart and all of a sudden the two year old goes up and takes his toy or punches him. Or they can be playing apart and then the two year old starts screaming as if he has had his toy taken away. which is not the case because brody usually has had it with him for awhile before gieger comes up and does this. The fighting then continues on for about a half an hour no matter how much i try to stop it. This goes beyond their normal rough housing. This when it is going on doesnt have the playful banter that their normal rough house play does. My hub hadnt really believed how bad it gets until this weekend. he saw it first hand. even he tried to stop it but had trouble. it usually only goes on in the morning. what do i do?? i cant let the two year old attack his brother like this!!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the suggestions. I also hope the moms that are going through this right now find so help in what the other moms suggested. Things are not fixed but we are working on getting things guidleine and rules for his behavior setup so he hunderstands his actions towards his brother have consequences. Again thank you all for you thoughts. Good luck to all you great mommies,gmas,aunts and friends!!!

More Answers


answers from Seattle on


Part of this is that Geiger is in his terrible twos and has the Toddler Laws of Property in his head (I'll get to that in a minute). Part of this is also that Geiger and Brody may be resenting Zephyr joining the party and taking "their" time away from Mommy and Daddy.

If it were me, if they can't play nice then they don't get to play together. When they start fighting put them in separate rooms, make them stay there until they can chill and play nice. I would also make a point of having special time with each of your three kids that is just Mommy & Me and also just Daddy & Me. Whether it's a certain room in the house, or taking the special kid out of the house and going to a park. That may help the fighting as well.

Good Luck,

Property Law As Viewed By A Toddler
1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks like it's mine, it's mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If I can see it, it's mine.
10. If I think it's mine, it's mine.
11. If I want it, it's mine.
12. If I "need it, it's mine (yes, I know the difference between "want" and "need"!).
13. If I say it's mine, it's mine.
14. If you don't stop me from playing with it, it's mine.
15. If you tell me I can play with it, it's mine.
16. If it will upset me too much when you take it away from me, it's mine.
17. If I (think I) can play with it better than you can, it's mine.
18. If I play with it long enough, it's mine.
19. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it's mine.
20. If it's broken, it's yours (no wait, all the pieces are mine)

got this list from: http://www.mayitpleasethecourt.com/journal.asp?blogid=898

just google: toddler property law and you'll get a bunch of hits.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

When the two year old starts to pick fights or starts screaming for no reason pick him up and put him in different room, a playpen--something to separate them. The two year old has entered the terrible twos. And what you do now is important. Avoid power plays like this. Remove the one who starts fights. Don't get mad, etc.



answers from Seattle on

I don't really have an answer for you, but wanted to say my 2 year old (girl) really picks oon my 3.5 yr old (boy) too - what is it with that?! Talk about the terrible twos... it was really bad for a while but is getting a little better lately, I think she is maturing a bit. I usually separate them and try to get them doing things in different places when this happens, but I hear you, it doesn't always work. I think my daughter may do it because she starts to feel not paid attention to, we also have a new baby in the house, maybe middle child syndrome combined with terrible 2s? My hub and I have started making more concerted efforts lately to get her alone and spend 1 on 1 time with her doing something aimed toward her age/development specifically.

I'll read your advice though, hopefully get some tips!



answers from Seattle on

Use timeouts. Two is old enough to understand time out. Have a chair (or two) set up away from everything that you can have them sit in. The way that I found most effective was to give them until the count of 10 to get to time out. If they didn't get there they got a spanking (yes, a terrible old spanking). If they were really trying to get there, the counting was plenty slow. But if they were kicking and screaming and throwing things all the way, the counting sped up. I also told them that if they got out of the chair before the timer went off - 1 minute for every year old - that they would get a spanking and the timer started over. Spankings were very rare with my boys. They quickly learned that I meant what I said, and they would just go get time out over with. It always helped dissipate the animosity, at least until the next time.



answers from Portland on

Sorry I don't have a solution for you, but I am soooo going thru this too. The only difference is both of mine are girls. My 2 year old is most often the aggressor. I know it doesn't help but I am so glad it is not just me.

I am looking forward to reading all the responses.



answers from Seattle on

oh, dear - little guys do try this sometimes - you will find a response that ''works'' --- just remember that for it ( the response) to work- we - the adults have to work together as a a Mom/Dad team - and it is a nuisance- we really have to work at it- but if we do - it WILL work. ( think of all the people you 've heard say ''' oh, time out doesn't work for me - ''' ''' chores'' don't work for me ''' consequences dont work for me'''--- what isn't working is the adult - the responses work SUPER. )

So - you and your husband decide: ''' a time out in the time out corner''' - 2 minutes per 'hit-bash-grab-, etc'-- and then go to it-- AND the time out means he sits in the spot for two minutes - if he gets us- you say '''oh, dear - have to start again'' - and do it. Get a timer - and let both childrne see that when the timer goes off- you get down to their level- speak BRIEFLY about the problem - give a hug - and he can go off to play.

The first day it's a ton of work- the second - a half ton- but by the 3rd - you should be able to ssay-- ''uh - oh--- hope we don't need a time out '' - and quite likely - you won't-- but if you do - it will be MUCH less work by day 3 - and w/ in a week of hard work- your life will be quieter- kinder - all those good things.

Is your middle child reacting to your attending to the baby?? Does he miss his days of being the baby? - Be sure ( Oh, I can hear you say ' well, duh'' -- ) to have something special that you and your husband particularly enjoywith just the middle one - letting him help you in the kitchen -- planting fall flowers --- getting a goldfish- something that makes his eyes shine-

Blessings, dear heart- you can do this.




answers from Seattle on

Swift, immediate, justice.

In our house we get three chances with a new rule (ie three times to commit an act with just a verbal warning, and talking to. "Remember, this is warning #2, we don't try and ride the dog. You're bigger then him, you could reeeeaally hurt him...or he could hurt you on accident, throwing you off onto a sharp corner. etc.etc.etc. You've got one more chance and then you're going to start getting in BIG trouble for it.").

On the 4th (or 400th ;) time, there's no warning. My son hits Susie Derkin's or calls her a mealy mouthed swamp monster, or tries to ride the dog and it's

1) Scoop up
2) On time out

When he was younger (2ish), I would ask him periodically if he remembered why he was on time out. Frequently the answer was "no". God I love honesty!! I'd remind him in either the most guilt inspiring way possible, or completely nonchalantly, depending on what seemed called for at the time "You HIT your friend. We don't do that. We don't hit people unless we're defending ourself or someone else."

That conversation gradually leads to "why" the infraction was committed, what he was feeling, what he wanted to accomplish, what he could do next time. By gradually, I mean over years. I'd always bring it up, but it took several years until he could just come out and say those things, having thought about the answers while on time out.

When he was little though, it was scoop up, time out, tears, remind or ask him if he was going to hit anymore, and off of time out. If he did it again, same thing, but longer. I generally went on 2 minute increments (if the same thing happens all in one session, not over hours or days)...2-4-6-8...or if there was a major blow out, I waited until that change in tone when they're crying intimates either that they're calming down or in real distress and not just the webster's dictionary definition of "screaming mad".

On the subject of justice however, make sure you keep an eye on your older one. Once they know that their recent tormentor gets in trouble for messing with them, they may fake or instigate it to get the other in trouble. In my book that equals time out for both. The hitter, and the taunter. Getting someone else to do something wrong to get them in trouble is just as bad as doing it yourself in my book.

So that's what we've done & do. Everyone does things a little different, and everyone's got their own path to walk. Best of luck to you!

OH! One last thing....one thing that ALSO helped with the hitting was to use me briefly as a punching bag. (This was NOT in the job description I read, btw...but then what is?) My son didn't have a good working definition of the difference between wrestling/roughhousing & knocking down/hitting. He didn't understand why one brought laughter and smiles and the other brought tears and time out. He was confused and more then a little grumpy about the whole thing. He felt it was monstrously unfair. By showing him (physically, by having him push/hit/knock into me at different speeds & strengths AND with different emotions...and then me shadow mimicking him)he got a better hands on feel for what's fun play, and what hurts and makes people upset. Not understanding those differences wasn't the MAIN cause or solution, but it HELPED alleviate the problem.


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