It is such a joy for parents to see their once helpless baby learning new skills as they grow to be toddlers. Milestones such as a baby’s first word or first step are things that parents look forward to.
However, often accompanying that joy are worry, confusion, and frustration especially when toddlers enter into what many terms as the “terrible twos” and display signs of aggression.
Here are some common concerns faced by parents with aggressive toddlers:
1. I am afraid to let my child socialize with other children. I am afraid he will hit or bite the other child when he doesn’t get what he wants.
2. I’ve tried reasoning with my child, explaining why hitting is bad. I’ve even tried scolding and timeout. But nothing seems to work. I don’t know what else to do.
3. Every time my child hurts another child, I feel so bad. I just know that the other parents must think I am a bad parent.
4. I hope that this is just a phase my child is going through and it will soon end.
To help an aggressive toddler, a parent must first understand the reason for the aggression. This is important because then the parent doesn’t just label a child as “bad” or “naughty” and react to them in that manner.
One of the main reasons why a toddler shows aggression is because they are still lacking in their language skills.
They have yet to learn the proper way to
express their needs and emotions. Another factor to consider is if the child is
tired. Even in adults, tiredness leads to crankiness.
There are several things a parent can do to combat a child’s aggression. Read through the points below to get full ideas.
Ways to help the condition
- Replace bad habits with better ones
Teach the child proper behavior. Don’t just tell them what not to do, teach them what they should do instead.
For example, don’t just tell your child not to hit. Teach him how to ask for the toy politely, rather than just saying “don’t hit when asking for the toy”. Teach him to act in a calm manner to live’s frustration.
With calm actions and words, teach your aggressive child right from wrong. Help him or she understand the difference between right and wrong behaviors.
2. Give attention to the child that is hurt
Step in first to keep kids safe by comforting the child that’s hurt. This way you do not reward your child’s behavior with your attention.
You, as the parent or caregiver of the aggressive toddler, should comfort the victim initially. After which you talk to the aggressive toddler in a way that he/she will understand best.
Toddlers are too young to understand talking about difficult situations. Therefore, it’s mostly advisable to intervene physically without hurting either the victim or the aggressor.
Identify situations that may trigger aggressive behavior. Act them out together or use dolls or puppets. Give attention to observe the causes of his/her big emotions.
You can act out both good behavior and aggressive behavior and ask your child which is right. Or you could just stop in the middle of the story and ask your child what the puppet should do.
Reinforce the lesson by listing down on a piece of paper what is the right way. You don’t have to use words; you could do an illustration and put it up on the refrigerator.
Watch the pattern your toddler’s aggression takes. Check if transitions are a nightmare for your child, also if there’re struggles at a specific time of the day that seems difficult for him/her.
4. Avoid yelling
Do not yell or spank when you reprimand your child. Instead, talk in a serious tone. Be a good model on how you handle your displeasure.
Screaming is the wrong way to discipline a child. The effects of yell or spank can be harsh and frightening. It can be as harmful as hitting a child, avoid such disciplinary action.
Yelling is a sad cycle! If you always yell at your toddlers, they are more likely to exhibit behavioral dilemmas, thus, evoking more yelling.
Avoid punishing your child’s aggressive behavior in an aggressive way. Don’t show him what being aggressive feels like, instead try putting yourself in the child’s shoes.
5. Be persistent and consistent
Children learn through repetition. Learning how to handle aggression does not happen in one lesson. If you have to say it a 100 times, do it.
Persistency and consistency form the basis of learning and skill development, especially in early childhood. Practice, they say makes perfect, remember.
Don’t give up and say, “I hope he grows out of it.” It may be a phase they are going through, but it is also where teaching and learning have to take place.
Avoid getting angry when the effects aren’t showing quickly. Keep teaching and trying until you achieve what you desire in your child.
6. Take care of the terrible twos
Terrible twos is a period in a child’s development, typically around the age of 2 which is associated with very defiant or rowdy behavior.
There’s usually a rapid shift in the mood and behavior of a child around 2 years old, which is difficult to deal with most times.
A temper tantrum is a major emotional outburst in toddlers, especially during the terrible twos, which gets them frustrated that caregivers or parents can’t read their minds.
Know what it is, what to expect, and how to how to handle it. A toddler doesn’t really have the language skill to express what he or she is experiencing, it’s you who need to understand it all.
7. Recognize the aggressive child’s feeling
Help your aggressive toddler by recognizing his feelings. Observe their behaviors when playing with peers, and tune into their feelings when something goes wrong.
Figure into what your child feels whenever he acts aggressively. Possibly, your aggressive toddler may calm down noticing that you’ve recognized his feelings.
A statement such as “I understand it doesn’t feel good when your fellow bites you” The child might not get the grammar, but your action will explain it all.
8. Understand the Erikson’s stage of psychosocial development
There are certain developmental stages in a child’s growth. Eric Erikson’s stages involve eight series of psychosocial development, which every healthy individual passes through starting from childhood to adulthood.
Infants under the age of 2 experience the stage of trust vs. mistrust, accompanied by a physiological crisis of socio-cultural and biological forces, which are applicable in all the eight stages.
At this stage, a toddler has more trust than mistrust towards the parent. They also exhibit frequent aggressive tantrum behavior due to difficulty in expressing themselves.
If all these fail, maybe parents need to dig deeper into the child’s aggressive problem. A child’s aggression may also have their roots in the following:
1. Low self-esteem.
2. Stress. Yes, children do have stress too.
3. Influence of television or friends.
4. Physical or learning disabilities.
5. Relationship between parent and child.
6. Poor parenting skills.
In other words, take a step back and take a good look at your child, his or her environment, and also yourself. Then be strong enough to make the necessary changes.
A child’s aggression is nothing big to worry about. It’s common in toddlers and preschoolers due to their inability to their wants and needs.
The Last Word
Remember, handling emotions is tough even for adults. What more toddlers who are just learning the ways of the world.
So, to help your aggressive toddler, be someone who understands; someone who will not react to them but rather someone who will guide and teach them. If the problem is tough, get tougher and dig deeper. And remember, never ever give up.