Raising a toddler is challenging at the best of times. From picky dietary choices to sibling rivalry, toddlers demand a certain amount of patience and level-headedness. One issue faced by many parents raising toddlers, for example, is the issue of aggression. Although different toddlers will react to various situations in different ways, some parents will find themselves attempting to deal with violent outbursts and aggressive behaviour. Whether it’s lashing out with the occasional slap, or biting and kicking other kids, this kind of behaviour can be considerably troubling for parents. So what are you supposed to do as a parent?
In this week’s article, we’re going to explore the best approaches to take with your aggressive toddler. From trying to understand the source of your toddler’s frustration, to encouraging greater communication and setting clear boundaries, these simple techniques can be a great help to parents struggling with quarrelsome toddlers. Take a look.
Try Understand the Cause
Although it won’t always be possible to unearth the source of your toddler’s frustration, it’s always a good idea to try and find out what’s troubling them. Because your toddler has limited language skills, however, this will require some patience and observation on your part. Take note of the times and places when your toddler gets aggressive. Is there a pattern? What situations appear to cause your toddler to lash out? And, if there is a pattern, is this a situation you can help fix?
Some of the most common causes of toddler aggression are relatively straightforward, in fact. At this stage in their development, toddler still can’t communicate their wants and desires adequately, and this inability to communicate can cause frustration. They might be getting angry as a result of something simply, like sibling rivalry or someone taking something they want. If this is the case, you can explore ways to help avoid these situations and to help your toddler handle these situations more maturely.
Demonstrate the Consequences of Aggressive Behaviour
If your toddler acts aggressively in a particular situation, make sure there are clear consequences. If your toddler aggressively tries to take another child’s toys while playing, take him and her for a time-out and let them know they can’t return until they learn to play well. Don’t get visibly angry with them yourself - or punish them with shouts or slaps. Removing them from the situation and other mild punishments will be more effective. Trying to reason with your toddler, in any serious ways, won’t necessarily work either. Toddlers haven’t necessarily developed the ability to properly empathise with other children and think rationally about their behaviour. And so, these gentle but clear consequences are the best approach.
Praise Good Behaviour
Whenever your toddler acts considerately or exhibits particularly good behaviour, praise him or her for it. The idea here is that you want to positively reinforce particular actions and behaviours. When she manages to communicate her frustration, or stops herself from acting aggressively and seeks your help first, reward her for her behaviour with positive words and encouragement. This will create positive associations with this kind of behaviour and influence her to act like this in the future.
Encourage your Toddler to Communicate His Feelings
Although you won’t necessarily be able to reason with your toddler about the negative effects her behaviour has on other children, you should encourage your little one to explain why she’s frustrated. After she’s acted out aggressively - or is on the cusp of doing so - sit her down and talk to her. Encourage her to try and explain what she’s feeling, emotionally, and why she’s upset. Let her know that in the future, when she feels like this, she should try explain it and communicate it rather than acting aggressively.
Don’t Get Upset Yourself
It’s important - when dealing with toddlers bad behaviour - to keep your cool. Not only will your toddler see that aggressive behaviour gets a rise out of you, but they might also learn from your example. Setting a good example yourself - by responding calmly and considerately to her actions - is very important. Toddlers learn a good deal by imitating those around them, after all.
Establish Clear Boundaries & Be Consistent
It’s important that your toddler knows certain behaviour has specific consequences. If your toddler hits a sibling or playmate, remove them immediately. Don’t wait for the second or third time. Your toddler needs to know that there are certain behavioural boundaries that she can’t cross and that if she does, there will be immediate consequences.
Related to this, also, is consistency. Aim to respond the same way each time your toddler acts out. Although it can sometimes be difficult to keep your cool - particularly if you’re stressed or frustrated yourself - but losing your temper is counter-productive. Aim to remain calm and consistent. It will pay off in the long run.
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