Calming Aggressive Toddler Behavior
Caring for a toddler can be a mix of two different worlds. On one hand, watching your toddler grow can be one of the most awe-inspiring things. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, or other caregiver, you can capture some of life’s greatest memories with your toddler. It is truly incredible.
But on the other hand, caring for a toddler can be extremely demanding. As your toddler grows, he or she will likely start to act out. Tears and outbursts can become more common. All of this can be stressful—especially if your toddler’s aggressive behavior occurs in public.
All toddlers can be aggressive at some point. It is part of growing up. But left unchecked, aggressive toddler behavior can create bad long-term habits. It can cause your toddler to become less resilient. He or she may be more aggressive toward teachers or classmates. He or she may even develop long-term anxiety if they constantly act out if they don’t get their way.
Because of this, it is critical to curb your toddler’s aggressive behavior right now. As a multi-decades long educator, I have seen it all. Through my experience, I have developed some tips and tricks that can help calm your toddler’s behavior. By being patient and sticking with it, you will see some long-term, substantive changes in your toddler.
Training Your Toddler to Be Less Aggressive
While every toddler is different, there are several key principles that you can follow to curb their aggressive behavior. These principles capitalize on the way that your toddlers think and react. Because of this, they are extremely effective.
One of the first things that you can do to control your toddler’s aggressive behavior is to come down to their level. By this, I mean physically appearing on the same level. If your toddler is acting out or being aggressive, get down to their level. Look them in the eye and make sure that they are doing the same. Getting this right is absolutely critical. You can learn the latest and greatest strategies to get your child to be less aggressive. But if your child doesn’t give you his or her undivided attention, your latest and greatest strategy won’t work.
Therefore, before you get started, make sure that your toddler has your undivided attention. Turn off the television and remove any distractions. Focusing on these preliminary steps is vital, so don’t forget them.
After coming down to your toddler’s level, you will want to capitalize on the way that children learn. It can be summed up in three words: consistency, repetition, and imitation. These three words are going to transform your toddler into a more behaved, less aggressive child. Once again, we are capitalizing on the natural way that children learn to shift their behavior.
First, let’s talk about consistency. When making your toddler less aggressive, you will put in consistent work. There’s no way around it. He or she isn’t going to magically become calmer or less aggressive after several minutes of work. It is going to take some time, and it is up to you to find the time in your family’s schedule. Moreover, resist the temptation to declare victory after the first signs of your toddler being less aggressive. Even though you may think that your toddler is fully transformed, you’ll need to keep putting in the work.
Repetition is another key asset when teaching your toddler to become less aggressive. When we want our toddlers to remember things, we need to repeat them. Through repetition, the underlying message is ingrained in your child’s brain. He or she starts to intuitively understand that they should be behaving in a certain way.
An example is helpful here. Let’s say that your toddler isn’t being gentle with other children at school. He is being overly aggressive, invading other children’s personal space and even pushing or shoving them. This is obviously unacceptable behavior and requires you to correct this behavior as soon as possible. Therefore, when you are with your toddler, look him in the eye and explain what gentle means. Be clear that he needs to be gentle when interacting with his classmates at school. As I’ll discuss in more detail below, show him what being gentle really means.
You can spend as much time as necessary repeating the concept of gentle. It can be once per day or several times per day. The bottom line, however, is that you need to repeat it. Repeating this important concept (and other concepts) will go a long way in helping your toddler become less aggressive.
Finally, a key element of learning is imitation. We can talk about concepts like gentle all we want, but if your toddler does not understand what that actually means, he will not change his behavior. Therefore, the best way to contextualize these concepts is through imitation. Children naturally imitate their parents and other adults, so imitation is a fantastic way to change behavior.
Returning to the gentle example, one great way that you can explain the concept is to show your child what gentle feels like. Show him in real terms and repeat it as necessary. By doing this, you are implicitly telling your child that he should model your behavior. Along with positive reinforcement (like kind words or even a reward), he will start to understand that he should be gentle among his peers. Ultimately, imitation is your secret weapon. Make sure that you use it (and continue to use it) when training your toddler to be less aggressive.
Creating Huge Transformations
By getting on your child’s level and relying on consistency, repetition, and imitation, you will start to see substantial changes in your child’s behavior. The bad news is that this change likely won’t be instant. You and your child are going to have to put in the time. There will probably be some tears.
In the end, however, it’s all worth it. Curbing your child’s aggressive behavior will lead to less stress and more happiness. All of the hard work will certainly pay off when the transformation is complete.