No matter how mild-mannered your toddler can seem at home, he or she could show aggression to others, whether it be at daycare, school, or on playdates. If you have noticed this behavior or if daycare staff has brought it to your attention, it is important to have the right response so the situation doesn't escalate and to teach your child the correct way to interact with others. If your toddler is going through an aggressive stage, here are some tips for handling it.
When you notice your toddler being aggressive to others, it might be challenging to keep your cool. However, it is important to stay calm. If your response to your child hitting, kicking, or biting someone is to yell or show other dramatic behavior, you could inadvertently encourage him or her to do it again.
Young children can find dramatic behavior amusing and exciting. If hitting another child brings out the dramatics in you, your child will start to act out to spark a reaction.
Although you need to act quickly to discourage your child's behavior, take a second or two to calm down and think through your response before interacting with your child. If your child's behavior is not going to allow a moment a reflection, physically remove your child from the situation and place him or her in a space away from the other child.
Identify the Trigger
Aggressive behavior from toddlers is usually triggered by some event. If you can identify the trigger, you can find ways to change the situation that leads to the aggressive behavior.
For instance, if your child is more likely to be aggressive when he or she is sleepy or hungry, putting your child down for a nap or feeding him or her might avoid conflict.
It is important to note that attempting to avoid the trigger is not always going to work. If your child does lash out at another person, you still need to hold him or her accountable for the actions. Tiredness, hunger, or any other emotion your child might be experiencing is not a reason to hurt others.
Disciplining your child is part of the process when dealing with aggressive behaviors. Unfortunately, when you are not consistent in your response to your child, he or she can become confused about what is expected of him or her. Therefore, you need to develop a plan for handling the behaviors and stick with it.
Being consistent also extends to the time your child spends in daycare. Share your plan with your child's teacher so that he or she can enforce it while your child is in his or her care. The daycare teacher might also have other suggestions for helping to curb aggressive behavior.