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Tips for Responding To Aggressive Behavior

Courtesy Of
May 31, 2017


Observe Learn Respond
  • What happened right before the aggressive act?
  • What are common triggers?
  • Is there a pattern to this behavior?
  • What's causing a loss of control?
  • Is your child hungry, overtired or overstimulated?
  • Is she unable to express her needs and feelings using words?
  • Set age-appropriate limits
  • Validate your child's feelings
  • Praise your child for calming down

Aggressive Behavior

Babies sometimes do things that appear and feel aggressive, but they do not yet have the thinking skills to act hurtfully on purpose. So if your little one bites you on the arm or takes a whack at you, it is not because she is trying to "get you."

The fact is, young children are not yet able to control their feelings or use words to communicate their thoughts, which is why many kids exhibit aggressive behavior. They have not yet learned to wait, share, and take turns.

And while they are learning more words every day, they still rely heavily on their actions to communicate. When they are angry, frustrated, tired or overwhelmed, they may hit, push, slap, grab, kick, or bite to tell you, "I'm mad!" or, "I'm exhausted!" or, "I'm over my limit and need a break." Over time, they learn right from wrong when you and any other childcare professional are clear and consistent with rules.

Learn more

Coping with Aggression and Teaching Self-Control In the Early Years. And check out ZERO TO THREE's resources

Explore other child behaviors:

Biting Crying Defiance Sleep Challenges


ZERO TO THREE is a national, nonprofit organization that informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.

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