What to Do with Toddler Aggression

Toddler aggression happens, so it’s crucial to learn how to stop it in its tracks.


Why is this important?

  • Stopping the unwanted behavior right away will teach your child that behavior like aggression is not acceptable.

If your child acts aggressively, follow these steps to change the situation and teach her different behavior:

  • Stop the behavior immediately by stepping in and holding your child if necessary. Remain calm, and act quickly and firmly.

  • Remove your child from the area.

  • Clearly tell your child that aggressive behavior is never okay. Be quick and direct with your child so that your attention doesn't encourage continued misbehavior.

  • Encourage (but don’t force) your child to comfort the victim with words, hugs, or pats. Help your child see the consequences and seriousness of the behavior. If she won't comfort the victim, show her how to give comfort by modeling empathy and concern. Focus your attention on helping the other child.

  • Assess what led to the aggression, and teach your child what she CAN do in the future.

  • Anticipate and avoid situations and surroundings that trigger your child's anger.

Encourage your child to describe how she was feeling and what made her lose control. Give specific examples of what she should do when she is feeling upset, angry, or frustrated. For example, You seem to be very angry that Matthew wanted to share the blocks. It was not okay for you to hit Matthew. Hitting hurts other people. You need to use your words to tell Matthew 'NO' or 'My turn!' Or you can get me if you are upset, and I can help.

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