Is your toddler suddenly displaying aggressive, unreasonable behavior? Do you constantly get embarrassed by your toddler’s sudden outbursts of anger and violence? Are you worried that despite your best efforts, your toddler is showing no signs of slowing down? Do you feel your toddler’s aggression may end up hurting her, or worse someone else too?
If you are losing your cool over such behavior from your toddler, it is time to read on and know what you can do to handle aggressive behavior in toddlers.
Why Does Your Toddler Show Aggressive Behavior?
Your toddler may suddenly be punching, hitting, pushing, biting or even slapping. But why is she doing what she is? The simplest answer to why your toddler shows aggressive behavior is because your toddler can do it. Here are a few reasons why your toddler may behave in an aggressive way:
- Your toddler often will not understand the difference between good and bad and what is permissible and not permissible. It could mean that your toddler would like to test for herself what all she can do, before she gets a reprimand from you. Your toddler could be experimenting with all that she can really do by herself, including slapping or pushing someone. To your dismay and even shock, your toddler may actually feel good about it, looking at it as an accomplishment!
- Your toddler could also turn aggressive in an effort to vent out her own anger and frustration, without realizing so. Your toddler may want to do something a certain way, or want a certain thing that she does not get. Unable to express what she wants in a proper verbal way, she may resort to violence, shouting, pushing and similar aggressive behavior.
- If your toddler has been engaged in too much physical activity, she may be overly exhausted or tired. She could also be sleepy and hungry, all of which will make her cranky and more uncomfortable. Your toddler at this age cannot properly express what is making her so uncomfortable, so the easiest way to express her discomfort is by becoming aggressive.
How To Stop Aggressive Behavior In Toddlers:
As your toddler grows, she will be in a position to better channelize her emotions and energies. For now, you can deal with your toddler aggressive behavior in the following ways to ensure her aggression does not get the better of her:
1. Stop It Immediately:
In order to prevent your toddler from getting too aggressive and becoming out of control, make sure you pay attention to the situation right at the start. Do not wait for the situation to become bigger and difficult. Instead, draw boundaries right from the start. Be clear from the start that the kind of behavior your toddler displayed is not acceptable. You do not have to shout at your toddler, but just saying a firm no should do the trick. If required, you should try and talk to your toddler in a language she will be able to understand that what she did was not right.
2. Take Her Away From The Situation:
If you are in a public place or somewhere where you feel your toddler can aggravate the situation, distract her immediately by taking her away. Interfere on behalf of your toddler, even if you think it can make others more aware of your toddler’s aggression. Gently lead your toddler away. If she resists, tell her about what other things she can try out by moving away from where she is and going along with you.
3. Talk And Explain:
Once your toddler is a little calm and you feel she will understand what you are saying, speak to her about what just happened. You can get down at your toddler’s level and look her in the eye. Tell her that what she did was very wrong and that you know she will only do the good things and not the bad ones. Tell her how it makes you feel happy when she does the good things. You can explain by giving examples of some aggressive behavior she may have recently done that she too can recall. Tell her an alternate way of behaving in that very same situation. ‘Remember the time you pushed the little girl out of the swing? That is bad behavior. Let her finish her turn and wait. Once she is done, you can swing again.’
4. Introduce Time Outs:
If your toddler is displaying aggressive behavior and has no signs of slowing down, give her a time out, even if for a minute. Ask her to stop whatever it is that she is doing and come with you. You do not have to ask her to stand in a corner. Just ask her to stop doing it and wait for the given time. Tell her what she has done wrong and that mummy is not letting her play for this time because she did something bad. Tell her that next time she does it mummy will not let her play for a longer time.
5. Stay Calm:
It is understandable that as a parent, you can lose your cool when your toddler turns aggressive. Make sure that you stay calm and keep your voice low, yet firm, while you are dealing with your aggressive toddler. If you get angry and yell at your toddler, it will make an already worse situation even worse. Your toddler will pick up your anger and get even more aggressive. Take a few quick deep breaths just before you speak to your toddler. If you feel you are not in the right frame of mind to handle your toddler’s aggression, ask your partner to step in and take the lead.
What To Do If Your Toddler’s Aggression Gets Worse?
You may have tried everything but despite your best efforts, your toddler is still aggressive. In that case, it is advisable to make an appointment with your toddler’s doctor and explain the situation. Tell your toddler’s doctor about any violent and aggressive behavior she is involved in. Depending on the severity of the situation, the doctor may refer a child psychologist who will speak to your toddler and try to reach the root of the aggression.
Hope now you know how to handle aggressive toddler behavior. Aggression in toddlers is something that can naturally affect you as a parent. It is a normal part of growing up that can be handled with some love and timely guidance. Have you handled your toddler aggression successfully? Do share your tips here.