How to Handle Kids When They Are Physically Aggressive Toward You

by Candice Coleman, Demand Media
    A toddler's aggressive behavior may be an attempt to get you to react strongly.

    A toddler's aggressive behavior may be an attempt to get you to react strongly.

    Being a toddler means experimenting and testing limits, even with Mom and Dad. Physical aggression may mean your child is angry, or your child may be hitting or biting to get a reaction from you. No need for a counterstrike, Mom -- biting or hitting your child back will likely increase your child's physically aggressive behavior. Consistency in correcting your child's physical aggression will reduce her tendency to resort to violence.

    Step 1

    Think about your child's environment. If Junior sees physical aggression between his parents, siblings or other family members, he is more likely to see hitting and biting as routine methods of problem-solving. Encourage family members to talk out problems instead of hitting. Toddlers may also learn physical aggression from interacting with other children at day care.

    Step 2

    Explain the effect a child's aggression has on you as it occurs, and redirect her behavior into a positive interaction. If your daughter bites you, you may frown and say, "It hurts when Lisa bites Mommy." You may then choose to hug your daughter and announce, "Why don't you hug Mommy? That feels great!" and smile. If she attempts to hit you, shake her hand or give her a high-five instead. Repeat this each time your child acts aggressively.

    Step 3

    Discipline your child appropriately for physical aggression. A time-out immediately after he's aggressive can help him make the connection between his behavior and its consequences. If your toddler can talk, encourage him to apologize for his behavior.

    Step 4

    Keep track of aggressive triggers and other reasons behind your child's behavior. Is she uncomfortable in a large group, afraid, sleepy or hungry? Addressing these underlying issues can resolve some of your child's physical aggression. It is important to provide constant supervision for your child, especially when she is in a situation that may trigger her aggressive behavior.

    Tip

    • Remodeling a child's behavior could take months. Demonstrate patience with your child: if you feel that you are losing your temper, walk away from the situation and return when you have calmed down. Punishing your child when you are angry may counteract the effort you have put into modeling non-aggressive behavior.

    About the Author

    Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images