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How to Handle Aggressive Kids Positively

Tips for parents on managing aggressive children in a positive way

- | 16 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Family & Parenting

How to handle aggressive kids positively
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My 4-year-old daughter does not think twice before hurling a toy or book or anything else within her reach when she is annoyed.

The first incidence was just before her 3rd birthday, and it got me worried. Over a period, her behavior deteriorated. I agonized over it long and hard but had no idea what to do.

I tried fellow moms, my pediatrician, even my own mother. But their replies were almost the same – wait for the problem to resolve with age and keep counseling her till then.

Well, there is a limit to how much you can counsel a kid on the same thing. Finally, I took to the Internet, a boon for all knowledge seekers, and I was relieved to note that I was not alone in this predicament.

I was surprised to find that studies done on second-grade kids suggest that aggressive behavior is not bad always. In fact, up to a certain level, aggressive behavior relates positively to creativity in a child.

Aggression is not a problem in itself. It is a symptom of an underlying problem. The problem may or may not be behavioral.

Your child could be unwell but not able to express it. In a household with many kids, the child might be feeling uncared for, and hence adopted aggressive behavior to attract attention.

Whatever the reason, aggressive behavior is hard to handle and embarrassing at times. Over time, I have developed my own strategy to counter it, and today I am going to share that with you.

Do read10 Reasons Your Kids Don’t Listen To You

“Children close their ears to advice but open their eyes to example.” ~ Anil Sinha

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Keep Calm Amidst the Brewing Storm

A child mimics your conduct. Period. You must behave accordingly, at all times.

Be composed during a crisis and show the child how to deal with difficult situations. If you think your child is too small to comprehend your actions, think again.

Next time you are into a serious discussion with someone, just observe discreetly how your child is intent on every syllable you utter, every movement you make.

Children have an uncanny knack of understanding even the undercurrents. So keep calm, especially when the kid is around.

If your child is violent, take deep breaths before you say or do anything. And speak in the most even tone you can manage. If you also get agitated, you will only add fuel to fire.

You should not show either approval or disapproval.

Let the storm pass and then there will be all the time in the world to discuss if what happened was acceptable or not.

“There are only two things a child will share willingly, communicable diseases and his mother’s age.” ~ Benjamin Spock

Keep the Kid Busy at All Times

My mother says kids are like ghosts – if you don’t keep them busy, they will cling to you and suffocate.

Ten years and two kids later, I agree with her.

Aggressive behavior is a warning sign that your kid has some unresolved issue. And most of the time it is due to lack of occupation. Keep the child busy and you will not have to spend countless hours in conflict and behavior management.

Related read: 65 Age Appropriate Chores For Kids

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Create a Daily Routine

Start with chalking out a daily routine for your child and stick to it.

Add meal times, bed times, story times, indoor play times, outdoor activity times, creativity times, lazing around times and even free times. Your child, and more importantly you, should know what your child is supposed to be doing at all times.

The emphasis here is on the word “doing” because whatever a child’s age, he or she believes in active exploration of its surroundings.

Till five years of age, they explore everything and anything with equal curiosity. As the child starts going to school, her or his specific interests develop and then explorations are confined to that.

Develop a Creative Interest

Creativity enhances critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and imagination in a child. On the day-to-day front, it keeps boredom and feelings associated with lack of occupation in abeyance.

If your child shows creative interests like drawing, coloring, music, craft, origami, or something else, you are salvaged. You can easily keep your child occupied in the activity of her choice.

Of course, you might have to get actively involved too, and as a reward you will bond greatly with your child during those shared times.

Must readTop 5 Behavior Management Strategies For Parents

“Childhood aggression is one of the best-known social predictors of future maladjustment.” ~ Dorothy Lynn Espelage & Susan M. Swearer

Know Triggers of Aggressive Behavior

A child’s normal disposition is happy-go-lucky. Children are also curious, innovative, and playful, but innately sensitive too. If they sense an undesirable activity in their surroundings, their first reaction is to be aggressive. They try to counter the unknown and unwanted with belligerence.

Identify the Triggers

As a parent, you need to ascertain the changes to the playful environment that induce aggressive behavior.

Observe your child closely for a week. 24X7.

Identify what sets off aggression in the child. Is it a specific time of the day, a particular game or toy, a particular situation, friend or sibling, even a food item?

Try to Eliminate the Triggers

Once you know the triggers, try to eliminate what you can. Okay, at least minimize them.

And it is easier than it sounds, I assure you. For example, my daughter is most irritable when she is hungry. So I have created detailed meal times in her routine, including snack times to ensure she doesn’t go without food for more than 2 hours.

You can find your own triggers and work on the daily routine to cut them down.

Study Your Child’s Mood to Predict Onset of Aggressive Behavior

You must always be aware of what your child is busy at.

If she is reading a book, then which book.

If she is coloring, then what artwork she is trying to create.

The moment you see a change in her mood towards worse, intervene.

Remember, prevention is better than cure. Remove her from the undesirable scene, remove the trigger, or engage her in something else.

Have One Guaranteed Way of Controlling Her Behavior

Sounds difficult?

It is not.

Despite everything you take care of, things are bound to go out of control. For those times, you must have at least one trick up your sleeve that works. 100% of the time.

Record How You Control Difficult Situations

You have already enlisted behavior triggers. Start noting down what you did to successfully control the child’s tantrum. You will be surprised to see a pattern.

You will be able to cull a couple of ways to change her mood immediately, even when she is at her worst.

Do the One Thing She Loves

My daughter loves listening to stories. Whenever I feel she is getting angry, I ask her if she wants to hear a story. Nine times out of 10 the bait is successful. For the one time, it is not, I offer the irresistible line – I have a new story to tell.

And I ensure that I have a new story to tell.

If you renege on a promise made to the child, you will lose her faith, which is far more important than one or two instances of aggressive behavior.

For your child it could be playing with her favorite toy or puzzle, going out to the park or dancing to her favorite number.

"Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it." ~ Harold Hulbert

Conclusion

Aggressive or timid, active or dull, friendly or hostile, all kids are equally lovable. And, equally adept at giving their parents a tough time too.

Just because your child is aggressive does not mean she deserves more than her share of punishment. And less than her share of love. In fact, she needs more of it.

It’s you and you alone who can decide the course of corrective action to be taken. There are many ways how you can handle aggressive kids.

You need to teach her how to behave with peers, elders and younger ones. You also must tell her how she needs to conduct herself around strangers. Unless you explain to her what is expected of her, she will be confused and display worse behavior.

Teach, preach, counsel, do what you feel is right but always support your child. If she feels abandoned, her aggressiveness will increase.

And affirm her good behavior freely. If she controlled her reaction in a difficult situation, praise her.

She will try harder the next time.

Do readHow To Get Kids To Listen To You

Over to You –

Have you dealt with aggressive children, or are you dealing with one currently? How do you manage the bouts of aggression?

Do share your nuggets of wisdom for me and everyone else to learn from.

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16 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Gina Badalaty

    September 15, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    This is an excellent article! I have an autistic daughter and while we have used many therapies and diets that have calmed her behavior, changes (like puberty, for example) can bring back aggressive reactions. It’s a bit defeating when you’re dealing with a behavior that you thought was gone, but one of the most important things to do is the first tip: remaining calm. If I even get a little frustrated, she picks right up on that and the situation can escalate. It’s certainly one of the most challenging aspects of parenting, but on the other hand, the growth in my own personal patience is amazing. Very good tips and all have worked for me over the years.

    • Shweta

      September 16, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Hi Gina,
      You must be having amazing amount of courage and patience in dealing with your autistic daughter.
      I feel that keeping calm resolves so many of life’s problems, not just kids who are having tantrums!!
      Good Luck and God Bless,
      Shweta.

      • Gina Badalaty

        September 16, 2016 at 11:16 pm

        Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s taken a lot of support, family/friends and a ton of faith in God to learn this patience. I don’t know about courage though – just love for my kiddo, that’s all 🙂

  2. Catherine Anderson

    May 31, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    What a great article. Really love how insightful information you put in. Actually, I have been reading a lot of articles regarding tantrum kids recently. Yours is one of the best one. Thank for sharing.

    • Shweta

      June 1, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Catherine,

      I am glad you found my experiences and information useful.

      Cheers!!
      Shweta.

  3. Ikechi Awazie

    May 25, 2016 at 3:29 am

    Hi Shweta

    This is a very good resource for parents dealing with Aggressive children. I don’t have a child yet but I am sure going to keep this guide to heart. Prevention is really better than cure which is why this post is just golden.

    Thank you for sharing and have an awesome week. Take Care

  4. Larry Frank

    May 23, 2016 at 6:18 am

    Hello Shweta,
    It’s good to see you here at Aha-Now. I think I learnt something I never knew, it’s where you said “aggressive behavior relates positively to creativity in a child.
    I’m not experienced in raising a child, but I think you know your onion here.
    Thanks for sharing and do have a wonderful day ahead.

    • Shweta

      May 24, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      Hi Larry,

      Glad I could share something useful. Thanks.

      Shweta.

  5. lh. louis

    May 21, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I believe this article could definitely apply to anyone either kid or adult. Leading by example will make everything easier, but advice it’s just something we’re saying and might have been never taken actions before and trying to give advice to somebody else.

  6. Balroop Singh

    May 18, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Hi Shweta,

    Nice to see you here and what a wonderful post you have written! Young mothers have no idea how to handle their kids when they get aggressive…I hope they would benefit from this post.

    I absolutely agree with you – ‘keep them busy.’ There lies the secret of raising creative and responsible children and when we say busy, it means planning their activities through out the day. outdoor activities are as important as indoor and they have to keep changing every 10 to 20 minutes as that is the attention span of curious and active kids. Also say – let’s play, let’s read. When we make ourselves a part of play, they respond immediately.

    Raising happy and healthy children is a 24/7 job, the moment we realise this, we stop reacting to aggressive behavior and find it quite normal. 🙂

    • Shweta

      May 18, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      Hello Balroop,

      You are absolutely right when you say we need to involve ourselves. Most of the times it feels we are too busy to play or do an activity together, but you need to prioritise in terms of – is this more important than being with my child.

      Thanks and Cheers!!
      Shweta.

  7. Donna Merrill

    May 16, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Shweta,

    Great to meet you here on AHA Now. You sure took be back because my child is grown now. But I can remember this with crystal clear memories. Your advice is spot on. One must be aware of what “triggers” the behavior. And yes, watch them 24/7. After a while, we can find those triggers.

    It reminded me of my daughter when she was young. She would bounce off the walls sometimes and have this surge of crazy energy. I did all I could think of. I asked her doctor, and he said it was normal. Then I did some research and realized she was allergic to red food dye. Yes… I experimented. Every time I gave her something that contained it, she went crazy….even two m&m candies would set her off. I discussed it with her chiropractor and he agreed.

    She is an adult now, and still feels anxious if there is red food dye in anything she eats. She tells me she got an anxiety attack…What was the last thing you ate? AHA

    -Donna

    • Shweta

      May 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

      Hi Donna,
      It was delightful to know my post rang a bell. And amusing that you experimented to find triggers for your daughter. Amusing because God know what all we moms have to do just so we don’t go crazy….

      Thanks and Cheers!!
      Shweta.

  8. Abhishek Mishra

    May 16, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Nice and insightful article. Loved the flow of it. Seems practical too. I am definitely going to try it on my 4 year old daughter. She is very aggressive, hope it works.

    • Shweta

      May 17, 2016 at 11:02 am

      Hi Abhishek,

      Thanks for your kind comments. And be sure to share your experiences when you apply the tips we have discussed in the post.

      Cheers!!
      Shweta.

  9. Shweta

    May 16, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Hi Vinay and Harleena,

    Thanks for giving me this opportunity to write for your blog. It was an interesting journey, where I discovered the writer in me in so many different ways.

    The audience of Aha-Now are really keen and intelligent, as I have understood them. I look forward to their valuable insights on parenting and handling kids through this post.

    Cheers!!
    Shweta.




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How to Handle Aggressive Kids Positively

by Shweta time to read: 6 min