It was exasperating. Would they NEVER stop fighting?
In the beginning, Little Boy was roundly scolded because he was the one who had inflicted bodily harm on another person. I felt that it was important to teach little boys physical restraint because boys grow into men, and men are large and strong. Without physical self-restraint, the human male can really hurt another.
It took Stupid Petunia some years to realize that The Daughter was not altogether innocent in the altercations. The Daughter was expert at verbal barbs. Poor Little Boy often endured her provocations for a couple of hours before he exploded ... lost it... went berserk. Then he would deliver his physical vengeance silently, with a wide-eyed, expressionless though determined face. He hit his sister with all manner of things - spoons, toy guns, sticks, toy cars etc... He even had the good sense to choose objects that were hard. He never ever, for example, used a pillow nor a cushion.
Somehow, we managed to get Little Boy to understand that no matter who started it first, the person who first struck a physical blow would get the blame. We explained that he should alert me to instances when he felt emotionally aggravated and we would discuss a solution. It wasn't wise to take things into his own fists because if he did that, I would punish him as well, for certain.
Little Boy internalized these early lessons rather well. Indeed, he retained the lessons so well that when he met a taunting bully in the school bus in Primary 1, he came home and asked my permission to punch the older kid. He said, "Mommy, he calls all the P1 kids 'Dumb Babies.' He keeps making fun of us. I think I will punch him tomorrow. May 1?"
"Of course you may not", said I.
By this time, the whole family had gathered around. It appeared that the other Primary 1 boy was oblivious to all the bully's taunting because he promptly fell asleep 5 minutes into the bus ride. So, Grandma advised Little Boy to look asleep too. Very soon, the bully got tired of taunting 2 sleeping bodies... and Little Boy's problem was resolved without having to resort to violence.
I was most amused, though. My Little Boy had had the self-restraint to stay his fists. He had come home to ask permission to punch his friend.