You saw your two year old hitting her friend while playing and now she started to kick you at home. Your son, three years old, bit his friend in kindergarten. Your child yells and screams aggressively while playing with his sibling. Do these scenarios sound familiar? 

It might be disturbing for a lot of parents however, aggressive feelings and attitudes are typical during a child’s development. Starting from 18 months, aggressive behaviors in children might continue to be present at times up to 4 years old and even until school years. 

 

How it happens? 

Time to time children may scream, hit, kick, push, bite, slap, or break things. He may show these behaviors even if there was nobody to copy from. Also, even it’s a “children” show, a movie, a game, or a YouTube channel, parents should always monitor these before/with their children because they may include aggressive/harmful/violent content. 
and control.
 

When it happens? 

There should be incidents prior to the outbursts or tantrums. Children feel uneasy when they don’t want to share belongings, don’t want to do what is requested, or their parents doesn’t meet their wants and desires. They may just be hungry, tired, sleepy, or sick as well. 

* If your child frequently exhibits aggressive behavior without any reason, it is recommended to seek help from a specialist.

 

Why it happens? 

There can be multiple reasons for aggressive behavior.

Developmental period: 1.5-2 years old children begin to see themselves as separate from others, say "I", "mine" and try to prove their independence. They want to show this strong sense of independence, but it is difficult for them to use language effectively, so they sometimes show it with aggressive attitudes.

Temperament: Some children are easy-going, some are difficult. Children with a difficult temperament experience negative emotional states more intensely than others, and have difficulty getting used to a new situation.

Social development: Due to their age related skills, children do not yet know how to handle those complicated emotions they feel at times. For example, the development of empathy in children occurs at the age of 4 and beyond.

Family environment: If one of the parents or adults in the extended family has a more aggressive, high-toned, vicious nature, this will also be effective in the child's attitudes and attitudes (children learn by socializing and taking role models).

A dramatic event: Children are no different than adults when it comes to difficult and dramatic life events. They also get affected by the stressful times when families experience bereavement, divorce, moving, or financial difficulties. 

 

How do they feel?

Feelings are important. Children get afraid, angry, jealous or upset all the time. Behind their combative attitude is not only anger, but also other challenging emotions.

 

What and how should be done? 

Feelings are important. Children get afraid, angry, jealous or upset all the time. Behind their combative attitude is not only anger, but also other challenging emotions.

 

What and how should be done? 

The child slowly will have appropriate, harmless, non-aggressive attitude to his social surroundings. He will not harm others nor the environment, will learn to express his feelings and be able to calm himself.

Children may be in an aggressive attitude both as a part of their development and for one of the reasons mentioned above. Parents should guide their children until they develop self-control and behavioral regulation skills. So how this guiding should be?

Stop before it happens: Minimize situations/behaviors/objects that will generate aggressive or inappropriate behaviors in your child. 

React immediately: Act right after the behavior, don't try to engage in a conversation with your little one about his aggression after a day or even after a few hours.

Show you understand his emotions: Stay calm, try to understand your child. “You got very angry when your toy was taken, and you just wanted it to be yours, but hitting it is not right. Hitting hurts."

Offer better options: Children find it difficult to handle their intense emotions and find another goal. Suggest different activities to distract him. “Would you like to shoot some hoops?” 

Praise desired behavior: We should identify and appreciate positive behavior like we react to undesirable behavior. “I was very happy that you played and shared toys with your brother.”
 

Words turn into habits with frequent repetition and persistent exercise. It is very important for the parents to remain calm and be patient during this process. Actions speak louder than words. Parents should remember that they are their child’s first role models. 

 

Sources: 
https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/16-aggressive-behavior-in-toddlers#chapter-10 
https://www.babycenter.com/child/behavior/aggression-in-children-why-it-happens-and-what-to-do-about-i_66637
https://www.mentalhelp.net/infancy/emotional-social-development-temperament/
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/ages-stages-empathy/