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My granddaughter hits her dolls
Q: My 3-year-old granddaughter has started mistreating her baby dolls. She slaps them across the face, throws them in a chair and tells them to stay there. When she decides it’s their bedtime, she tells them to stay in bed and then whips them violently. Is this normal? Her parents are divorced, and she has an older brother, but he doesn't behave like this.
A: Your granddaughter’s play concerns me. Children this age often play out problems in their life because they have limited language skills. I’m worried that someone may be mistreating your granddaughter, or that she has observed some violence. I can’t be certain either is the case, but I recommend you start looking into this situation.

Check her body for marks. Ask her such non-leading questions as: why is the baby being hit? What did she do? Do you know any grown-ups who hit their children? Does anyone slap you in the face? Approach her at different times with these questions, and see how she responds. I wish I could put your mind at ease, but there’s a possibility that her violent play is a reaction to a real-life event.