Infants can show aggression as young as two months of age by making angry faces and screaming. It is quite normal for children to show aggression during their early years.
Biting and hitting are the most common behaviours displayed by toddlers. Your child’s temperament can also have an impact on how they react toward others and their environment.
Why does my child show aggressive behaviours?
Any time your child is aggressive, he/she is communicating. Infants and toddlers do not have the brain maturity to express their needs through language. They do not yet understand social behaviours such as sharing, waiting, and taking turns.
Remember: young children have short attention spans and are easily frustrated. They are still learning to control their emotions.
Some say I should smack my child to show them how it feels?
You may be tempted to yell or use physical punishment. However, when parents use physical force they are sending a message to their child that hitting is okay. Studies have proven that when children are exposed to physical punishment, they are at risk for violent behaviours later in life.
Your child needs you to teach him/her how to behave and to express his/her needs without using physical force.
What can I do if my child engages in aggressive behaviours?
Try the following:
- Respond quickly and calmly.
- Say “no” to your child, firmly but gently.
- If behaviour continues, it may be better to move away from the situation with your child until he/she has calmed down.
- When you read books to your child, label the emotions of the characters.
- Sing songs that include emotion words such as “When you’re happy and you know it”.
- Look for the positive behaviours and give loads of attention and praise, e.g. “Mommy is so happy you picked up your toys!”