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5yr old Granddaughter keeps hitting herself and her mother

Dear Andy,
My five year old granddaughter has started hitting herself. This has been going on for several weeks and she has also lashed out at her mother on more than one occaision. My daughter lives alone with her daughter, her partner and father of her daughter hasn't lived with them on a full-time basis for some years now. The relationship between father and daughter is a very good one and she is the apple of his eye and her mother's. My granddaughter started school in September last year and has been going full-time since October. There is a little girl in her class who has seen more adversity in her short life than most adults I know, needless to say these adversities have without doubt helped to mold the child she is today. She's very loud and boistrous and is quite aggressive, i.e. she is constantly smacking, punching or biting other children. This has had some influence on my granddaughter who is developing similar behavioural patterns. However, it is unfair I think to totally lay blame at the feet of this child, as I have a feeling that this isn't just as a result of befriending this child, at this stage I am just clutching at the proverbial straws. My daughter is having a really tough time addressing the issue and is battling to find calm common ground with her daughter. I have heard her trying to reason with the child but is then confronted with masses of back chat. It's tough for my daughter and I because I live over an hour away and don't get to spend as much time as I would like around my girls and my daughter misses the support of her's not always easy to talk in the same way on the telephone as it would be sat in the same room together. We are an extremely close family and support eachother immensely, but this issue of hitting is a real tough one! Please could you shed some light on this for us and suggest possible ways in which we can effectively calm the waters!
Thank you soooo much for any help and advice you can offer.
Kindest regards,