6 Ways to Curb Your Child’s Aggressive Behavior

You don’t know what happened. One day, your sweet little toddler started hitting, kicking, or biting out of the blue. Where did this alarming behavior come from and what do you do about it? First, don’t panic. Toddler aggression is normal. As Dr. William Sears explains, “Many toddlers show aggressive behavior around two years of age mainly out of frustration: Their desire to do things is greater than their capability. They want to communicate their needs and wants, but have a limited vocabulary.”

Now, that you understand why your toddler is acting aggressively all of a sudden, here are some clear ways to help you teach your sweet darling that aggressive behavior is a no-no.

  1. Be an Example

Children mimic what they see; therefore, it is imperative that you watch your temper and gauge your reactions. If you use aggressive force or language, it will only teach your child to respond this way he/she is upset. Furthermore, this type of body language from a parent is frightening.

  1. Explain Appropriate/Inappropriate Actions

In the same way that you teach “good touch/bad touch,” you should also be teaching your children to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate actions. For example, gentle hugs are appropriate, but hard shoves are inappropriate. Give your toddler multiple examples that demonstrate the difference between how we should and should not treat others.

  1. Set Clear Expectations

When dealing with aggressive behavior, you must set clear expectations. For example, your child needs to be told that biting is not acceptable. To make this rule work, you must define the if/then rule. For instance, “If you bite or hit your friends, then we will leave playgroup.” These rules and expectations will look different depending on the behavior and the child’s age; however, the key is to be consistent.

  1. Remove Your Child from the Situation

If your child becomes aggressive, it is perfectly acceptable to remove your child from the situation. For example, if your child is aggressive towards another child, you should remove your child. This may mean simply moving your child away from the other children, a timeout, or leaving altogether.

  1. Give Examples of Other Ways to Deal with Triggers

As Dr. Sears explained, toddlers are often aggressive because they are frustrated. As a parent, try to teach your little one other ways of dealing with frustration or anger. One example is to teach your child to take deep breathes. Additionally, begin teaching your child keywords that he/she can use to express feelings or needs. Then, explain that we use words instead of our bodies to get what we want.

  1. Show Affection

As parents, we must make sure our children feel safe and loved. Aim to show your child compassion and extend grace when he/she becomes physical. Remind your child that you love him/her, but that we do not hurt the ones we love.

One final note – teach your child with your words and not your hands. Then, require your child to express his/her emotions the same way.

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