Parenting an Aggressive Toddler

Every now and again moms come across an aggressive toddler - the one who bites, hits and has more tantrums than most. If this is your child, I hope this toddler parenting article will help you understand how better to work with your little one.

If you have an angel of a toddler, but have seen another little one who struggles with their emotions like this, then I hope this ezine will encourage you to empathize with the mother.

Parenting tip

When you see a mom struggling with her toddler in a shopping center, at the library or in a park, what is the first thought that goes through your head? I bet it is one of two options:

“Thank goodness that isn’t my child” or “Shame, I know how she feels!”

While the mom battling to help her toddler get their emotions under control is probably thinking a host of other things like “Why is my child doing this now when all these people are watching” or “Where is the nearest exit?”

I think we all know that toddler temper tantrums are normal and accepted as part of the toddler experience, but for each child, they will manifest in different velocities. My one child had very few tantrums, maybe what I could count on one hand, yet another of my children had lots…and lots.

Contradicting this ezine title, I need to say – you cannot parent an aggressive toddler in the height of tantrum, but you can parent your toddler when you have non conflict times.

Toddlers who kick, bite or hit have problems associated with anger, jealousy and impatience. There is always some trigger that will set them off – whether it is that mom is busy with a newborn and they have not learnt the skill of patience, or whether it is a toy they want from a sibling or friend because they are inherently selfish…if a mom can identify the trigger, she is one step ahead of her volatile tot.

Identifying the root of the problem can help mom to find ways to train her toddler in patience, kindness or sharing. Using non-conflict times to do this is invaluable, remember I said earlier, you cannot parent them in the height of the bad behaviour.

You and your toddler

So what is a mom to do? The moment the toddler bites, kicks or hits, little one should be removed from the play or situation and placed alone in a place where they cannot hurt themselves. Do not tell your toddler to “go to their room” they will not obey, do not slap them or act in anger yourself. Simply pick the child up and deposit them in the safe place.

After a short while (when you are calm and your toddler has had a minute or so) go to them and pick them up and cuddle and affirm them. Teach them a key phrase like “We don’t kick/bit/hit when we want something, we ask”. Let them know that there will be a consequence each time they hurt another.

You can then return to the place they were and allow them to engage again with their siblings or friends. If they repeat the process you repeat the removal and punishment.

Mom, if you are consistent and calm with your aggressive toddler, I can honestly say that you will help your toddler, after a time, to learn how to deal with their emotions. Not an overnight fix, but it will work.

NOTE: Always give your aggressive toddler a point of recall if they have asked for something and not gotten it straight away when playing with a friend or sibling – teach them to come to you to intercede on their behalf.

Character building

Character is not learnt overnight and learning to deal with emotions is a life long task. Many adults are often as immature in their emotions as toddlers are and also show signs of aggression. Road rage is one way that adults show they have never been taught patience.

So be gentle on your toddler, they have a lifetime to learn, but do not give up and consistently help them to learn the characteristics of patience, kindness, sharing and gentleness.

With regards to parenting your aggressive toddler, you will have a longer journey than a mom with a more placid happy-go-lucky child. I have had both types and can only tell you that when you see your emotive child bring an area under control the reward is huge for you and your child because you know how hard they have worked at this facet of their personality.

Bible link for moms

Isn’t it hard work being the mom of a toddler? I can almost here some thoughts of new moms after reading this article. Perhaps you wonder where will you find the time to train in non conflict moments, or perhaps you are wondering whether I realize how much time it would take to be consistent with removal and punishment as described above.

Remember, I have been where you are (4 times over!) and truly hear your hearts cry. But here’s the thing – if you don’t deal with these issues now, they will mature in your children’s hearts and by the time they are out of the toddler years your problems will be much bigger.

For the first 7 years of your children’s lives, you will spend most of your time correcting and training them in how to respond correctly to your authority, circumstances in their lives and relationships within and without the home.

In Zeccariah 4:10 the Lord speaks about the day of small beginnings when his temple is being built. I have always felt encouraged by this scripture as a mom so that I do not despair if each day I have had to correct, train and discipline [with a good dose of loving thrown in!] because when our children are young, these are the days of small beginnings – we need to make them count!

Character building crafts

Consider doing this puppet craft with your toddler to help them role play acceptable responses to frustrations.

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