My 1-year-old daughter is babysat by my sister in law. Her cousin is 21 months old and hits, sits, kicks, pinches and pulls hair. Her mom calls her a bully and says she does it to all little kids, but she is too young for discipline.

I have watched her do these things, there is nothing she is reacting to, she just walks by and hits. When we tell her we don't hit, her expression does not change, ever. She just walks by and casually hits and then continues on her way.

Has anyone dealt with this type of behavior?

  • The sister in law is the mother of this cousin, or it's another cousin?
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 20:13

2 Answers 2


You cannot change this

You've already called out the simplest and most likely explanation for this behavior.

Her mom calls her a bully and says she does it to all little kids but she is too young for discipline.

Whether she admits it or not, by not reacting and stopping this behavior she is rewarding the child. Which in a way is a form of positive discipline, if you move beyond thinking of discipline as being solely a negative experience. If the mother doesn't acknowledge this is a problem then there is nothing you can do to change the child's behavior. If it bothers you (and I can't imagine why it wouldn't) I would suggest seeking alternative child care.


I agree that not disciplining the child is teaching the child that they are allowed to do that. But I also have to wonder who taught the child this kind of behavior? Is the child being hit as a 'rough play' with an older child or adult? Children lash out when they don't get their way, but "just in passing" is a warning sign of a bigger problem.

The other part of this is your child. Remove the concept of the babysitter being your sister-in-law and think about what their job is as your child's caretaker? Should your child be "not taught" how to deal with disappointment? Should your child be protected from danger? Should your child's welfare be ignored while a caretaker is 'watching' her? Is this the way you want your child to behave? Would you fire another "babysitter" if this was happening around someone you weren't related to?

Ultimately this is your decision. I understand that, because this involves family, it's a touchy situation. But I do think that when it comes to your child, you have to draw the line. You have to protect your daughter. What she experiences in life (even as a baby) determines her physical and phsycological well being.

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