Young children, especially preschoolers can often show aggressive behaviour. This includes grabbing toys, kicking, yelling, and even playing very roughly with friends or siblings. This can be very concerning to parents as we witness this or if we hear about it. Here is what you can do about it.
Its part of development
As parents, we first need to understand that this type of behaviour is part of the natural development of young children. Anywhere between the ages of 5 to 7, children are growing well and are discovering that they have new found physical strengths that can be put to use. This maybe for harmless purposes, like tumbling around or for personal benefit like grabbing a toy. But thankfully it is something they will outgrow with your help.
How should you react?
- When you see bad behaviour, get involved and stop it immediately. Do this by taking your child out of the situation, rather than by yelling or shouting at them.The latter point is important. If you shout or strike them, it will only reinforce their aggressive behaviour
- Make them undo the effects of their bad behaviour. If they grabbed a toy, make them return it and apologize. If they hit someone, make them apologize. Speak to them in a firm tone to get this done.
- Sit them down for a minute and calm them down by talking to them in soothing tones. This will also help you remain calm
- Discuss the issue with them and tell them how it is more effective to use words. Give them examples of how you resolve differences
- You will have to follow this procedure repeatedly - move them out fo the scene, make them apologize, calm them down and explain the desirable behaviour. Over time, they will slowly understand how to change their behaviour.
- You can remember the acronym MACE - Move, Apologize, Calm and Explain.
What could be causing it?
While aggressive behaviour can be part of development, do look out for some of the following influences that can trigger it.
- Television - check what your child is watching on TV. Programs like wrestling and violent movies are a definite no-no. Even innocent cartoons like Tom and Jerry send a message to your child that aggression is OK.
- Your behaviour - Check your own behaviour. Do you solve problems they cause by being very aggressive with them and striking them?
- Major changes - Has there been a big change in your child's life? Did a close relative die? Did you move to a new city? All of these require you to bond closely with your child in case they have been affected by these changes.
If you consistenly use the intervention method described above (MACE - move, apologize, calm, and explain), you will see good results as your child grows and learns to use words and language to get things accomplished.