Excessive aggression in young children can lead to problems later on in life. While it is healthy for kids to exhibit some level of aggression in order to defend themselves, high levels can be detrimental, particularly when kids act out physically.
There are three primary causes of aggression – frustration, seeking attention, and the need to be territorial. All of which have varying triggers.
The following tips will help you tame aggression in children:
Watch for cues and triggers.
Make an extra effort to play close attention to the times when your child acts out aggressively. It can be anything from arguing over what video game to play to breaking out into a physical fight with a sibling over a heated discussion. Note if the aggression is directed at specific people and how the aggression is displayed (i.e. yelling, kicking, biting, etc). It is also important to consider the potential triggers in each situation.
Assess your reaction.
When kids act out, it can be easy to respond with harsh words and actions. As a parent, you have to take a step back, even when the aggression is directed at you. Resist the urge to shout or hit. If you need to step away from a situation for a minute before confronting your child, take that step. Otherwise you can create a vicious cycle of aggressive behavior in your household.
Wait until a child has calmed down to have a discussion about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Focus on both the positives and the negatives, and talk about the outcomes of different actions. For example, when a child kicks a classmate, other kids at school are not likely to want to play with him in the future.