My child is aggressive
May 23, 2014  |  Written by Carlota Nelson

Like adults, there are many reasons why children can become aggressive. Sometimes it´s due to exhaustion or over-stimulation. Other times it´s due to frustration or anger. There are cases of children who are aggressive simply because it works to get what they want. They can also react aggressively because they see this sort of behavior at home. But if we delve a little deeper, we discover that aggressive behavior is mainly due to the fact that children have not yet developed their language skills and they do not know how to control their emotions as they strive to become independent. That’s why, if a friend takes their toy, your child can end up hitting him or biting. This might surprise you and you might even feel ashamed but to a certain degree, this behavior is quite normal. What is important is not only to remind him that this behavior is unacceptable but to educate and teach your child other ways to express himself and find a solution to future conflicts.

Consequences. You must put an end to this behavior immediately and make sure your child knows that he has done wrong. Once you have removed him from the conflict, try understanding what made him react this way. Stay calm and speak to your child, making him understand that there are consequences to his bad behavior on behalf of his playmates (his friends will probably not want to play with him, he can really hurt someone…) and yourself (he might not be able to play in the park anymore until he learns to behave). Choose a logical consequence for his age and be an example to follow. If you control your temperament, your son will learn to control his. Bear in mind that consequences should be accompanied by discipline not punishment. Shaming your son or daughter, for example, could unleash further aggressive behavior.

Saying I´m Sorry. Each time your son acts aggressively, he needs to say he´s sorry. At the beginning, it´ll probably be you, leading him by the hand, and encouraging him to be forgiven. But little by little, he will learn to do it on his own. Encourage him to identify the problem and to think of the person involved. “What do you think your friend feels now?”  “What would you feel if he did the same thing to you?” By putting him in the other person´s “shoes”, your child will show empathy, an important skill to learn. The more empathy he feels towards others, the better his behavior will be.


Other ways to express anger. As with adults, it´s totally normal for your son or daughter to get angry with others, whether he or she is right or not. What is important is to learn to express that anger without hitting, screaming or biting.  Think of ways he can vent off that anger such as talking about it before it´s too late, asking an adult for help, giving the ball a good kick or removing himself from the situation. Explain how you also get mad and tell him what you do when it happens.

Think about the good times. It´s crucial to let your child know that aggressive behavior is unacceptable but it´s also very important to praise him when he is good. Every time he does something nice, let him know. Being good also has it´s consequences.

Although its easy to react to your child´s aggression by raising your voice or getting angry, remember that your child is searching for clues on how to control his impulses and learn to behave correctly. You are the mirror in which he looks.

How do you deal with your child´s aggressive behavior? If it´s worked for you, others will be able to benefit from your experience. Don´t forget to share it with us.

Photo Credits: Rob de Vries

Photo Credits: Ibai Grotuk


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