The last thing all parents want to hear is a complain from your little one’s teacher that he bit and pulled someone’s hair in childcare. Why does it happen and how can you handle it?
It’s an exciting time for kids between 18 months to 3 years old. They are becoming aware that they are separate individuals from their parents and people around them. This means that they are starting to assert themselves, communicate their likes and dislikes, and show independency. As much as they are eager to do this, they lack self-control and the ability to express themselves in a ‘civil’ way.
Why do they lose their cool?
It’s true, aggressive behaviour is a normal part of your child’s development. Some degree of hitting and biting is completely normal but biting multiple times during the week would be more of a concern.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore it completely! Make sure your child knows that aggressive behaviour is unacceptable and show him other ways to express his feelings.
How should you respond to aggression?
Observe and learn
Find out what is the underlying reason for your child’s behaviour. Is it during playtime when he is put in the situation where he has to share his toys? Does it happen right before nap time when he is tired? Has there been any changes in his world that is making him feel upset or insecure? It could be a change of child care or a new baby at home.
Find out the stressors that triggers the aggressive behaviour can help you to address and deal with the problem together.
This is pretty important here! Take deep breaths and keep your own cool. Staying in control makes it more likely your child will calm down more quickly. When you get agitated and frustrated, it increases his distress. You need to be his rock!
Use words and actions to communicate your message
Words alone may not be enough to get your child to stop his behaviour. Use an authoritative, firm voice – not scream or yell. At the same time, use hand actions like ‘stop’ or ‘no-no’ along with your words. It takes many repetitions, hearing the words together with the actions before it gets through to them.
Give logical consequences
If your child gets rough at playtime, take him away immediately. Sit down and explain that he can go back in when he’s ready to join the fun without hurting anyone.
Avoid lecturing or reasoning with your child. He is probably still too young and don’t have the capability to empathise and reflect on his actions. But he will be able to understand consequences.
Keep him active!
Some parents find that when their child doesn’t get the chance to burn off their energy, they are terrors at home. If your child is high-spirited, give him plenty of unstructured time, outdoors if possible, to let off some steam.