How to Handle Aggression


Aggressiveness is a normal reaction in children. They let out angry emotions when they feel they need to protect their safety or happiness. Aggressiveness can be defined as hostile behavior that can cause injury to another. Babies display their tempers whenever conditions are less than perfect. Two year olds try to settle disputes by hitting or slapping. They may be imitating behavior they have seen in adults or may be trying to get attention. Slapping is also a reflex that all children have. They slap out of aggression or excitement. By the time children reach the age of eight or nine, aggression is usually well controlled. Infants are unable to control their feelings. Parents should not react with anger or great sympathy to the first violent outbursts of their child. The baby does need comforting, but you should remain calm and undisturbed. 

Handling Aggressive Behavior 

In the toddler stage, a child has not yet brought aggressiveness under control. Toddlers will still openly show anger at situations that frustrate them. Most young children will have problems with fighting, biting, and hitting. If your child is behaving violently in daily relationships and constantly hurting you or other children, he or she may need special help. However, this is usually a passing phase and can be handled effectively by the parent.

Teach your child that people do not like being hurt. Do not let your child feel only loved if he or she behaves well. Teach that some actions are acceptable, while others are not. You need to be firm in dealing with the problem, but do not punish your child severely. What you need to do is to help your child redirect aggression. Don’t crush a child’s ability to be self-assertive. Just help channel the aggression into activities which are not harmful to others. Many psychologists have found that children who are most aggressive have parents who are highly permissive or punish severely. The least aggressive children have parents who are not permissive and who punish mildly.

Be Consistent in Your Parenting

Dr. Charles E. Schaefer in How to Help Children with Common Problems said, “A combination of lax discipline and hostile attitudes by parents can produce very aggressive and poorly controlled children.” If you indulge or neglect your child and then punish excessively, your parenting will cause your child to be aggressive, rebellious, and irresponsible.

Limit Exposure to Violence in TV and Movies

Studies have shown that the more violent the programs preferred by children, the more aggressive their behavior. 

Minimize Marital Strife

Your child learns a lot by imitating you. Don’t expose your child to arguing, conflict, and aggressiveness between you and your spouse.

 Provide Physical Activity as an Outlet

Your child needs plenty of opportunities for strenuous outdoor play and exercise. This will help him get rid of tension and extra energy.

Reward Good Behavior

If your child has a problem with hitting her brother, praise her for giving him a hug or pat. Every time she plays with her friends or siblings without fighting, praise her for playing cooperatively. You might even give rewards, like a star on a star chart, or a treat or privilege. Keep in mind that you, the parent, are in control. Set clear and consistent limits while showing your unconditional love.