Last night, Youngest Son and Middle Son were playing in the living room after dinner. I was putting dishes in the dishwasher when I heard My Beloved Wife telling Youngest to stop hitting Middle. She was not happy with his response and asked me to come deal with it because she was too irritated with him.
I sat down on the couch with him and asked him how he feels when his brother hits him. He got a serious look on his face.
Very quietly, he said "sad."
"How do you think your brother feels when you hit him?"
He looked away and whispered "sad."
"Do you want your brother to feel sad when he's with you?"
In a very small voice, with his face buried in the couch cushions, "No."
"So what do you think you should do?"
"Not hit him."
"Yes, that's right. You shouldn't hit your brother."
With that established, we moved on to the particulars of the incident. I asked why he had been hitting Middle. He said because Middle wouldn't leave him alone. I asked if hitting had helped, and he said no. I asked what else he could do. He hesitated. I suggested that he could as me, or Beloved, or MomC, or Oldest Son to help. I also pointed out that Middle is much bigger than him and very strong. If he hits Middle enough times, Middle might get annoyed and hit him back, and that would hurt.
In that conversation, I felt like a very good parent.