Aggression in Children
Dealing with Toddlers Anger and Rage
Aggression in children is part of their normal pattern of development.
Two year olds lack social skills, are totally egocentric and have few communication skills.
Therefore they act aggressively when things don't go their way - they lash out, bite, kick, hit and punch - all highly embarrassing to their parents.
Often, a lot of this behaviour is purely experimental too.
Aggressive feelings are very powerful.
Aggression in Children - Coping with Aggressive Toddlers
Parents need to be consistent
in the way they handle behavior that hurts others.
Say, "No! Hitting hurts!
" and remove the child so the behavior cannot continue.
Help them to understand their behavior by naming it for them, especially if their feelings are very strong.
"You are angry and very upset because you wanted the toy and couldn't have it
Aggression is a normal human response, and aggression in children is a normal developmental step. However, learning how to control our aggression is a sign of growing maturity.
We need to help our children to understand how to handle their aggressive feelings.
Aggression in Children - Aggressive Feelings
Let's look at what aggressive feelings do for us:
When playing sport, aggression is admired. We praise sportsmen for their aggressive batting stance in cricket; a tennis player is commended for aggressive racket and ball skills.
However, we decry nations for their aggressive stance toward each other in times of war. We abhor fighting in teenage boys, fearing it will lead them to a criminal life if not quickly stopped.
Aggressive feelings can also give us courage and determination.
They make us alert, insistent and aware, and bring a sense that obstacles can be overcome. This is in direct contrast to apathy, which leads to lethargy, non involvement and failure.
In order to conquer difficulties, we need a surge of planned aggression to make that last hurdle. Even a surge of anger, fed into our aggressive feelings can provide the impetus for success.
Aggression in children puts them in touch with their feelings of power. This can be in a positive way, but often appears to parents only in a negative way.
As parents we need to understand our own feelings of aggression and anger.
Often when two years olds suddenly become rough and aggressive, (girls and boys!) parents despair that their babies are growing into uncontrollable monsters. Instead, parents need to see this newly acquired aggression in their children's personality as a positive and good attribute.
Without aggressive feelings children become easily manipulated and timid.
Aggression In Children - Accept Your Child's Aggressive Feelings
Accept your child's aggressive feelings
It is very childish and silly behaviour to be angry with a young child who is learning to handle, understand and accept his aggressive feelings, yet this is exactly how many parents respond.
When you really think about it, would you become angry with your child when he is learning how to walk and keeps falling over, or learning how to talk and uses the wrong word?
Of course not!!
And yet, anger is most often the response toward a two year old when he hits out, bites, or shows his aggressive feelings.
When you accept that aggressive feelings are valuable
, and that aggression in children can be very positive, to be developed for the benefit of everyone, then you handle them differently.
Try thinking about aggression in children in this way, and therefore treating your aggressive toddler differently.
Aggression in Children - Teach Your Child to Accept His/Her Aggressive Feelings
When your toddler lashes out in defence or response, tell him/her,
It's good to see you are so determined. I'm glad you know what you want. It's good to grow up big and strong and to things for yourself.
It is also good for your toddler to see your aggression too when you explain,
I understand that you are feeling really cross, but right now the problem is I need you to do this and so you are going to do it.
You are helping your child channel his aggressive feelings into making the acceptable decision at that moment.
Newly acquired aggressive feelings are big and powerful to small children, and very exciting too. Aggression in children need s to be kept within the range of others' tolerance.
Teaching and showing this is all part of accepting our aggressive feelings and building trust.
More than anything, our children need our approval, and helping them to accept and channel their aggressive feelings provides for growth and impetus for future change and is very important for them.
Consistent parenting sees aggression in children as a positive source of determination.
Aggression in Children - Training Your Toddler
Training your toddler to handle his aggression requires aggression on your part too.
When situations escalate out of control and your toddler has refused to co-operate with eating lunch, or taking his nap and now won't get into his car seat, aggression on your part is required to bring things together.
I really admire your strong feelings and I can see you see really determined to be powerful, but right now, we need to be somewhere in ten minutes.
If you choose not to co-operate, then I will put you in the car by force.
It won't be pleasant, it could have been so much easier, but in this situation I will win.
So how about it?
Coming peacefully, or will I have to force you?
I will give you a few minutes to think about it.
In acting this way, you have accepted his aggressive feelings and told him you recognise them as good, but you have also demonstrated that he needs to recognise and accept yours too.
Because you are not acting from anger, his choice is easier to make. He would rather have your approval.
Don't take out your frustrations on your children
When you are feeling frazzled, or ill, upset or very tired, tell your children.
I am already feeling very upset because
(tell them the details), so I need you to co-operate. I'm not feeling angry with you.
This also helps your children to learn to express their emotions too, and gives them names to enable them to do this. It is surprising how even very young children can act accordingly when they understand what the situation is and what is expected from them.
When you are holding your stroppy two year old and he lashes out, pulling your hair, or hitting you, holding him firmly and telling him that you are glad he is so determined but that hitting is a big NO, is a much better way of handling aggression then being angry, yelling or exploding at him.
Seeing his aggression as a newly acquired expression that needs training from you rather than being angry as a first response
, means that you deal with aggression in children quite differently.
Toddler Anger -
Many parents are greatly surprised by their child's behavior when he/she displays anger. A little one's anger can seem so powerful and at times so personally directed, that it is hard not to react powerfully back. Parents can then be taken by surprise at the intensity behind their own emotions and experience considerable shame in the way they are confronted by their tot's aggression, tantrums and out right rage.
Toddler Tantrums -
Dealing with toddler temper tantrums, rage and sudden displays of anger, will be much easier for us if we disabuse ourselves of the whole idea that expressing anger is wrong.
can also be a problem.
When your child bites, he is telling you in the only way he knows, that something is bothering him. It may be that he's over excited or tired, bored or frustrated, confused or hungry.
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