For Families

How To Manage Aggressive Behaviors

February 17, 2020

There are two things to take note for you to successfully manage the aggressive behaviors of your child. The first important thing is to understand this very behavior. The second thing would be your ability to manage your emotions. If your child is having a disruptive and aggressive episode or behavior, you should be able to control your own emotional response to the situation. You wouldn’t want your emotional response to increase the challenging or aggressive behaviors that your child is showing.

What are Aggressive Behaviors? Aggressive behavior of your child is an emotional response to their environment and the posed threats, frustration or anger. These are the usual trigger points. You must understand that as a toddler or preschooler, they might still lack self-control and proper language skills. Their response to trigger points is due their potential inability to express themselves appropriately and effectively. They resort to lashing out and displaying aggressive behaviors. Some pediatric psychologists say that such aggression is generally expected to young children or toddlers. Even with this, it is still better to seek help if your toddler does have aggressive behaviors.

True aggression is seen if your child at around the age of 7 still behaves aggressively. By this age, children are already expected to have the skills to communicate and express his or her feelings. This should lessen the likelihood of aggressive behaviors. If not, you might seek out support from a professional, because your child may regularly put himself or herself in danger (or people around him or her).

When children exhibit aggression, it naturally poses a danger to themselves and to anyone around him or her. Their behavior could cause physical and emotional harm to you and to them. That is why the priority should always be to minimize danger to yourself and to your child and maximize positive response and outcome. Here are some pointers to consider in dealing with their aggressive behaviors.

1. Identify the problem.

You must establish what elicited their aggressive behaviors. It could be the attitude of the people around him or her or extreme discomfort to their current environment. There are other factors that could have escalated your child’s behavior.

2. Make your child feel comfortable.

Since their display of this behavior is an emotional response to their environment in general, making your child feel comfortable and safe from the threats he or she sees or feels is important. Remove the trigger points from the situation if possible. It is easier for you to calm your child if they feel that you are not a threat to them. You must also stay calm and in control of the situation, if possible.

3. Respect your child’s personal space.

Use appropriate body language. If you need to take a few steps back, you may do so. Respecting their personal space can give them ample opportunities to express themselves.

4. Keep others from being involved.

The last thing you want is for your child to harm others while you are in the process of calming him or her down. These behaviors can pose a great threat to you and your child. Having more people around your child during these situations is not a successful way of managing aggressive behaviors.

If other people are offering their help, assess the situation first. If it is something that you can still handle, respectfully turn them down to not endanger them, too. If it has come to a point where you need other people’s help, you can ask them.

5. Make sure that your communication is effective.

When your child is showing aggressive behaviors, their communication process is not as functional as it usually is. Simply talking it out would not necessarily achieve the quickest and best outcome of calming them down. You must be very conscious with how you are communicating with your child. Make requests short, simple and straight to the point. Your child may not be able to pick up your long explanations during these situations.

Your way of speaking must be calm and respectful not imposing and lecturing. It is highly recommended that your questions be open ended. Repeat important information or questions if necessary. Too much communicating may also worsen the situation. Know when to stop asking or talking and know when to resume. You are the true expert here as you know your child best. Your intuitive skills will help you out greatly during these situations.

6. Catch their attention.

Change their focus into a healthy distraction. Present them with new information to grab their attention. This can shift their interest to the new idea presented to them. Determine healthy attention-grabbers to produce a better system that could come in handy if needed again in the future. This can buy time and may also help in decreasing the heightened emotions of your child.