Monday, July 30, 2012

Aggression, Toddlers and great resources to help

Is your toddler aggressive? Are you stressed out and don't know what else to do? Try taking a step back and start observing before reacting. Ask yourself "What is happening and why?" Ask, "Is there something I could have done to prevent this?" Try to write a log of when the aggression happened...
1. What happened
2. What time of day
3. How often
4. What was is reaction and what was your response, was it effective?
Write as much as you can and keep a 2 or 3 week log.

Observe.... what they say, do and how they play. If they are swearing, grunting or angry, this may tell you a lot about how they feel. If they are throwing or stomping or playing roughly with their toys, this is a window into their the world. Take a look at your log and see if the aggression happened at the same time each day and see what you could do to prevent this. Or was it at a play date with too many kids? The log may show you info you didn't realize before. Maybe they were melting down just before bed every night and you could stop this by making bedtime a bit earlier.

Observe their surroundings and yourself...Your little children are adults mirrors, they copy everything. If you are angry, frustrated or upset, take a look at how you handle that. What you say, do and how you interact with your world is teaching your child how to react to theirs. What who your children are watching or what they see on TV. Do they have older teen in the house who may be swearing or using aggression. Is there aggression at the daycare or a relatives or friend's house? You can possible help decrease aggression in your little one if you work on the older children or yourself first.

Self reflection... is the best way to stave off any bad habits. Many time we don't even know we are behaving badly. A long day with bills piling up and little sleep can make us less than perfect parents. Take care of yourself, make sure you sleep well, eat well and get out into the sunshine each day. 1 hour of walking in the daylight can decrease your own stress and help your little ones have good naps. Write in a journal all the things you are thankful for and try to stay positive throughout your day. Even when your little one is melting down. The more calm and positive you are, they quicker the tantrum will be over and done with.

Many children throw tantrums... in the mall, at daycares, community centers or grocery store when they can't have what they want, it's too much stimulation or sometimes for no reason at all. Iv'e seen at a local park kids melting down and fighting with other children. You may have your toddler melting down at a relatives house or when your family is going through a transition like dinner time, or getting ready to leave the house etc. I have even had parents tell me about their toddlers aggression happening when nothing in particular is going on. Sometimes we just don't know what is in their little minds. By observing and asking them questions, it may help resolve some of these issue. Even little babies can learn to sign and tell you what's going on in their minds. Ask them, "How do you feel? Are you hungry? Are you tired? Did you need a hug? Is it too noisy? Are you scared? Did you want to be picked up? Do you want to play?

Give them things they can say to help cope. Today my 2 year old gently headbutted another boy at the park who was ignoring him. I asked, "Did you want to play with that boy?" He said, "yes." I said, "Ok, go over and ask him if he wants to slide down the slide with you." He did and they played. Too funny. I could have been upset and said NO HEADBUTTING! What are you doing? Stop it! and caused a ruckus at the park. Instead I tried to imagine why on earth he would go over and head but this boy who had been ignoring him. So I just asked and it paid off. It doesn't always work this easy, but maybe it will give you an idea of how to observe. Try to think what would I want if I was 2.

I want you to think about where is the aggression COULD be coming from. Observe, observe, observe. Study what is happening and when. Try to step inside your child's shoes and envision what they may be feeling.

Here is a great article on one parents particular problem with their 17 month old and some wonderful insight and solutions:

Here's another great article with similar problems:

It's always wonderful to search out answers and be observing your child. Look for possible issue that could be causing aggression.

Possible reasons for aggression:

1. They don't have the signs or words yet.
2. They are too young to reason out a problem they are having.
3. Overstimulated
4. HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired)
5. Scared
6. Unsure or nervous about a situation.
7. New environment or people
8. Learning from mistakes or trying to figure things out.
9. To see what happens when I do this...
10. Needs a sense of belonging or importance.
11. Trying to display independence.
12. Frustrated.
13. Attention  (an easy try is go and pick them up and hug them when they are showing aggression)
14.They just may need a break, maybe the younger baby is bugging them and they need some alone time.

I am sure the list is longer, but this may get you started. Good luck on observing and loving your little one.

It will pass, they do grow up eventually! In the meantime a wonderful resource and excellent author is this set of books:

0 - 3 year old:


Elementary Age:


Special Needs:

Single Parents:

Teacher's guide:

1001 TIPS!

Happy Reading!

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