The period between 18 months and 4 years is both an exciting and challenging phase for many parents. During this stage, toddlers and preschoolers are beginning to comprehend that they are separate individuals from their parents and family. This is when they learn how to express themselves, communicate their preferences and act independently. Because expressing themselves doesn’t come easy, especially when they try to do it with words, they rely on their actions to tell you what they want. Thus, the occasional aggression. Young kids don’t find it easy to control their emotions, which is why they need your help. Read on and learn some helpful tips on how to prevent aggressive preschooler behavior.

Observe them

Before applying a solution to their aggression, try to observe and take notice of what’s causing the behavior. Does it happen when they are stressed, sad, or frustrated? What are the things that trigger big emotions? Is it particular to a certain time of the day? By being able to take note of the triggers, it’ll be easier to prepare for situations that stir the aggression. 

Redirect the behavior

Now that you’ve prepared for potential scenarios that might trigger your child’s aggression, think of ways you can redirect the behavior. For example, if you catch them about to hit a playmate, help them make a better choice by gently calling their attention and intervening in the situation. Invite them in for some snacks or a walk in the park. Avoid making punitive or harsh responses.

Set limits

While you don’t want to yell at your child for their aggressive behavior, it’s still important for them to understand that everything has limits. Make sure they understand which behaviors are not encouraged or tolerated. When they hit, kick or hurt someone, don’t delay talking to them and correcting the behavior. Talk to them in private and let them know why their behavior is unacceptable.

Help them look for new ways to manage their anger

Instead of using their body to express their anger, help your child find new ways to manage their emotions. Ask them what caused their anger and talk them through it. Instead of fighting with their body, help them express using words or even breathing techniques. The more they get better at communicating their feelings, the less likely they’ll become aggressive.

Praise them for their positive behavior

Positive behaviors are best reinforced by making sure they are recognized. Instead of punishing your little one, you can prevent aggressive behavior by complimenting them each time they choose not to act aggressively. Rewards may also work, but don’t overdo it. 

Instill self-control

The ability to control emotions isn’t something that’s innate in toddlers and preschoolers. It’s your role to teach them what’s good and bad. They need to be taught not to hit, kick or hurt anyone when they feel upset. Your guidance is what they need to keep their actions under control.

Don’t discipline them by hurting them

More often than not, children who hurt others are the ones who also get hit by their parents as punishment. This is strongly discouraged because it gives young kids the impression that this is a good way to treat people when they do something wrong or when they misbehave. Never impose discipline by spanking your child as any form of physical punishment causes a child to be more aggressive towards others. 

Control your own temper

Toddlers and preschoolers look up to their parents. They follow whatever you say or do. Be a good role model to your child by showing them how you take control of your own temper. There will always be bad days and situations that will really test your patience. However, these things are perfect opportunities to model the right ways to respond to unlikely circumstances. Show them how you calm down and handle the situation with positive coping skills. They are more likely to follow suit.

Taming a child’s aggressive behavior is never easy but there are peaceful ways for them to manage and express their anger. Use these helpful tips and you’ll eventually see a decrease in their aggressive behavior over time. 

Here at Cornerstone Learning Center, it is our priority to make sure that children are exposed to an environment where positive behaviors are reinforced and fostered. Please feel free to give us a call for more information.