It can be challenging to respond calmly when children act aggressively, but it’s important to remember that young children who are acting out are often expressing themselves in the only way they know how.
The ten tips below can help you to respond calmly and consistently to aggressive behaviour. By being loving, calm and patient, you can help your child to feel safe and secure as you guide their behaviour and set boundaries. In time, you may even be able to prevent aggressive behaviour from happening in the first place.
- Have realistic expectations for what your child can and cannot do. Realize that children need to gradually learn self-control.
- Have a clear plan for how you will deal with their aggression.
- Make sure your child knows that they have done something harmful. (e.g., Hitting hurts.)
- Show your child how else they could act to get what they want or need. Praise their efforts.
- Model the behaviour you want. Show your child the way you want them to behave.
- Spend time with your child. Include your child when you are doing things. Turn off the TV and cell phone so you can enjoy being together.
- Slow down physical activity when your child is overexcited or tired.
- Be consistent with what behaviour you expect, but be a bit flexible when your child is tired, hungry or anxious.
- Find times every day for positive physical activities (e.g., running, jumping, climbing, dancing, rolling).
- Be calm, gentle, positive and loving with your child no matter how they behave.