And, so it begins…when your toddler hits around 18 months possibly earlier or a little later they’ll start to show their emotions and feelings through actions. These actions can be positive, like giving hugs, kisses, and snuggles; but these can also be negative, like biting, hitting, kicking, pushing, and throwing things.
This is such a hard thing to handle and get under control because they don’t know better and teaching a toddler right and wrong is a slow process.
Have you ever had anxiety over your toddler being around other toddlers for the fear of them hurting them? I know I have!
In my religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) when your child turns 18-months they’re able to go to nursery, so the parents can attend the rest of their meetings kid free. I remember countless moments of being so nervous leaving my child in there without me because of the fear of them hurting someone else and having a total meltdown. I am actually going through this right now with my twins (and I have two to worry about, so double the anxiety. AHHH!)
I feel so vulnerable when I need to let my kids go and have other people take over for a while. I always hope (worry more than hope) that my kids will make good decisions and be kind and respectful to others. This worry even comes with my toddlers and they’re just babies and don’t even know what’s right from wrong yet, but I still worry.
One thing I have noticed with having twins is that they’re more aggressive than my other kids were at their age. I think it’s because they have someone their exact same age wanting the exact same things they have, so they get more frustrated having things constantly taken from them and their attention constantly being shared.
My twin son is a biter, pusher, and kicker. My twin daughter is a biter (only if you put your fingers in her mouth, which her brother does all the time), hair puller, and hitter.
It’s so heartbreaking to hear that blood curdling cry when one of them bite each other or whatever else it may be. I get nervous leaving them in a room together.
The last couple months I have felt it’s been getting better though, and I think this is why.
HOW TO HANDLE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR IN A TODDLER
1. Never hit or spank your toddler when you’re correcting them- This goes for EVERYTHING! If your toddler is playing with an outlet, dumping food all over the floor, playing in the garbage can or toilet, biting someone, whatever naughty thing it may be, DO NOT hit their hand or spank their bum or show any form of aggression towards them when correcting them. This teaches them to do the same thing back when they are frustrated. Try getting down to their level and gently take both of their hands into yours and say, “Ouchie. Biting hurts” (or whatever it is they did.) Or “Uh oh you made a mess, let’s clean it up.” Or “Yucky, toilet water is yucky.” I know they don’t exactly understand the words coming out of your mouth, but they will.
2. Kids, even toddlers model our behavior- Not only do they model our behavior, but they model the behavior of other kids as well (like older siblings or kids at daycare.) I am kind of a freak out type of person (horrible flaw, I know!) I get frustrated easily and I am not shy of showing of it. I have noticed this has rubbed off on my children a lot and I feel terrible for creating this in my children, but I have noticed that when I keep my cool, they keep their cool a lot more. Be aware of your actions in certain situations and try to do better at handling them in front of your children. When you’re alone by all means do whatever you want, curse if you have to haha! 😊
3. Be consistent- Make sure you’re being consistent in your behavior on reacting to situations and correcting situations. If you’re calm a lot with certain happenings and then all-of-a-sudden freak out or vice versa, it’s confusing to a child. Of course, we all have our breaking points and that’s ok; we’re not perfect and deserve to have freak out moments occasionally, but make sure you’re more consistent in the positive reactions than the negative ones.
4. Distracting them can be a lifesaver- If your toddler is doing something they shouldn’t, try distracting them or playing with them. This can seriously work wonders.
5. Don’t make it a game- Sometimes when your toddler is doing something naughty and you give them attention for it they think you’re playing with them and they make it a game where they continue to do the same thing over and over again, if this happens take them away from whatever it is they’re doing and play with them in a positive way with toys or read a book. Don’t let them think that the negative things they’re doing is a game or fun.
6. Teach them empathy and to apologize young- If your toddler hurts someone in any way, get down to their level, hold their hands and say “Ouchie. That hurt her/him, look they’re sad.” Take them to the person and teach them to say sorry. I know this could be difficult with a toddler, but if you’re consistent they’ll catch on quickly that what they did hurt someone.
7. Remember that this is out of your control- Keep reminding yourself that this isn’t your fault. This is something a lot of kids go through and can’t be helped. Keep being a good example, keep teaching them, and keep being patient. They will outgrow it. I know saying this doesn’t make it easier. It can be very difficult and stressful to have a child with aggression, but over time it will get better.
I often wonder where this aggression comes from. I often blame myself and think I’ve done something wrong, but I really do believe that some kids just have it in them more than others and it’s just something we have to work through with them.
I like to think it’s because my kids are smarter mentally than verbally and so they can’t communicate their feelings properly haha. Seriously though could you imagine how frustrating it would be to know exactly what you want, but you can’t communicate it.
Hang in there and know you’re not alone.
If you have any ideas to help handle aggressive behavior, please share!
For tips on how to tame your toddler’s tantrums go HERE