When my daughter was born a few months ago, I was anticipating lots of hands-on management of aggressive behavior in toddlers. It’s no secret around here that my toddler struggled with biting for over a year. He is energetic, curious, and often unaware of his own powerful strength.
One afternoon, I laid my daughter down on the baby gymini and I went to cook dinner, while my toddler watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Our living room and kitchen is all one big open area, and this allows me to keep an eye on everyone. I’m endlessly aware of all things going on around me–it’s the curse and blessing of the mom ears.
I heard a few faint patters on the floor, and I instantly knew he went over to the baby. My eyes followed around the corner, and in two seconds time, he laid on top of her giving her the biggest hug ever.
I tried not to yell or scream, but clearly, a toddler on top of a baby is not-so-good.
Aggressive behavior in toddlers.
Hitting, kicking, biting, rude behavior, whining, giving the biggest hug ever–all are examples of aggressive behavior in toddlers. But how do you manage it without losing your cool? And how to do effectively get toddlers to learn these behaviors are not okay?
I compiled a list of posts addressing all these issues and hope this will serve as a resource for parents and caregivers struggling with aggressive behavior in toddlers.
Best Tips for Toddler Biting
What to do when your toddler hits or bites — Best Toys 4 Toddlers
Stop toddler biting for good with the biting bear — Beauty Through Imperfection
How to get your toddler to stop biting, when nothing works — The Military Wife and Mom
How to stop your child from biting without biting them back — Crafts on Sea
Best Tips for Toddler Hitting
How to stop a toddler from hitting — Lemon Lime Adventures
Helping a toddler that hits — Toddler Approved
How to stop your toddler from hitting — Kori at Home
Best Tips for Whining Behavior
Two words never to say to your whining kid — Lemon Lime Adventures
7 surefire ways to get your kid to stop whining — Idealist Mom
Sometimes my toddlers cry in public — Beauty Through Imperfection
Teaching kids to learn self-control — Smart Mommy Solutions
How to help toddlers cope with big emotions — The Military Wife and Mom
Best Tips for Aggressive Behavior
13 tips for taming toddler aggression — B-Inspired Mama
How do I handle my child’s defiant behaviors? — Every Star is Different
The surprising benefit of teaching kids high five — The Military Wife and Mom
How to deal with aggressive behavior in toddlers — My Life and Kids
10 positive parenting tips to help aggressive kids — One Time Through
Bonus Section: 3 Tips for Better Listening
If you are struggling with aggressive behavior, you may also struggle with listening. These two things tend to go hand-in-hand! Listening is something we are always working on in our home. We try out new and fresh ideas to keep things running smoother. What can I say? Life with a toddler keeps us busier than Carrie Bradshaw on her wedding day.
Remember how my toddler was giving his baby sister the biggest hug ever? (Also known as…smushing her like a pancake). I pulled him off her and took the following steps:
1. Speak low and slow.
This is a super awesome technique I learned from another mom. Speaking in a low tone of voice and sloowwwwly, I said, “You are giving sister an owie. Show me how to be kind.”
2. Infuse humor this way.
Sometimes when I redirect behavior using “low and slow,” a power struggle starts. After all, he doesn’t think he was hurting her. He believes he was hugging her. So we turn it into a song and dance, using humor. We made up the following song together:
“I love my sister. I give gentle hugs. I love my sister. I give gentle hugs.”
We repeat this song for a good 5 minutes until he is laughing his way all the way to gentle.
Another example is when I tell my toddler he can’t watch any more T.V. He gets completely hysterical. That’s when we sing the T.V. song.
“I love TV. I’ll watch it all day. I love TV. I’ll watch it all day.”
The point: Infusing humor validates what your child is thinking (TV) OR redirects the behavior to the desired behavior (gentle hugs).
3. Whisper so quietly, they cannot hear you.
This is especially useful with an energetic child, who will not sit still long enough to listen. Sometimes whispering is not enough to grab their attention. Instead, whisper so softly they cannot actually hear you. Try to keep eye contact as much as possible while you are doing this. This causes kids to stop and try extra hard to hear what you are saying.
This at least gets kids to pause and usually stops aggressive behavior by default.