Ughhhh....toddler's Aggression

Updated on July 31, 2007
M.S. asks from Columbus, OH
5 answers

OK, I know all children go through their terrible 2's, but mine is 16 months and is going through 'something.' I would just like some advice on how to handle these new issues we seem to be having.
My daughter has always been a wonderful infant/baby, until....the last month or so. Now that she is walking/running, she is into everything, which I know is normal, the problem is when I try to correct her, take something from her, or redirect her. She, obviously, gets very frustrated when I take something from her she can't have. As soon as I say, 'no,' or take something from her hand, she will take out her aggression on whatever is close by, sometimes this includes throwing objects close by, wacking my hand, or smacking the dog. I don't want her to think she can do this and get away with it, but I am at a loss on how to correct this. I am getting very frustrated and have tried to redirect her when she is about to blow up, but nothing is working and she is getting worse. What bothers me is not the crying or yelling, but the force she uses when she gets angry, esp. with our pets. She has literally grabbed my mom's golden retriever's face and pulled at her face, her fur, and, the latest, started smacking her in the back/head if she is close by. Thank God the dog is mellow and sweet, but this is not OK by me and I am worried the dog will eventually react. Unfortutaly, the dog isn't that bright and she loves my daughter, so she is always right near her. I just do not know what to do with this agression in her. I know she is still very young, but is this normal, is there anything else I can try, or should I just keep being consistant with the redirecting, saying no, and doing timeouts?? Thanks!

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answers from Cleveland on

Hi M.!

As sad as it is to hear it, it's very normal behavior. Still-emerging language skills, a fierce desire to become independent, and undeveloped impulse control make children this age prime candidates for getting physical. Of course that doesn't mean ignoring it. Let your toddler know that aggressive behavior is unacceptable and show her other ways to express her feelings.

I always gave my son logical consequences. For example, if he gets in the sand box and starts throwing sand, I immediately take him out and sit with him while we watch the other kids play and explain he can play again when he's ready to play nicely like the other kids. I never try to reason with him, like saying "How would you like it if someone threw sand at you?". Toddlers don't possess the cognitive ability to imagine themselves in someone elses shoes. They do understand consequences. Just be consistent and diligent.

I always have to remember to keep my cool, which is very hard sometimes! Yelling or telling my son he's being bad never works. When I reacted calmly and controlled my temper, he got his under control better. Afterall, we are setting the example as parents.

I make sure I always, always, always to respond immediately when my son is aggressive. He should know instantly when he's done something wrong. I always remove him from the situation for a brief time-out (but only for just a minute, after that he won't remeber what he did and won't make the connection that his behavior put him there). I found this was the best way to let him cool down. After awhile he connected his behavior (for example, hair pulling) with the consequence (the time-out) and figured out that if he pulls hair, he ends up out of the action.

I always make sure I respond to each episode the way I did the last time. That way, he will came to expect my response, and set up a pattern. Eventually, in sank in that if he misbehaved, he got a time-out. I responded the same way even in public. There were times I was mortifies, but I didn't let my embarrassment causeme to lash out at him. If people stared I just brushed it off with a comment like, "The wonderful stafe of terrible twos", and disciplined him in the usual fashion.

Sixteen months is a little young to be teaching alternatives, but I started my son in the habit of it. Afterwords, I always talk to him. Because he can't communicate to me what set him off, I usually try to communicate to him, like "Yes, Christopher, I know you wanted to play with the telephone, but it's not a toy. It's not Christopher's phone. Maybe you could have played with Christopher's phone (hand him his play phone). It's not nice to hit. It ouchies Mommy. You need to use your words." He can't say sorry yet, so I always make him give a hug to the person he hurts. That way it will become a habit to eventually say sorry when he's hurt someone.

I always reward my son's good behavior, even sometimes over exaggerated praise. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be about behavior. Everytime my son usues the words he knows to express himself, I always say "Good words Christopers. Great job!" And I give him a hug. That way he can realize how powerful words are.

I always let my son have physical outlets. He gets stir crazy. So I always make sure we get outside to play. We go to parks, take lots of walks, and explore the neighborhood. He's a much happier kid when he's played otuside 2-3 times a day.

This is what has worked for me thus far. Just remember it's a stage! You'll get through it! Good luck!!



answers from Cleveland on

M., I had the same problems with my daughter when she was that age. She is now 5, and let me tell she can still be a booger at times , but is much better. Her behaviour started the same way. She always seemed angry, and did not play well with other kids at all. I was at a loss so I decided to put her in pre school when she was 3. That only lasted a few weeks until she bit the other children, and I was asked not to bring her back. It was a long road for my husband, and I to straighten her out, but we did it with consistent punishments. We did the corner, time outs, and even started biting her back. All of those things worked. It took time, and was stressful, and at times I felt like giving up, but we stuck with it, and she is much easier now. She will be starting kindergarten in a month, and I am happy to say that she is more than ready. She treats other kids alot better, and she respects authority now. In fact I have even noticed other kids pushing her around, and she does not retaliate in any way. I am not sure if that's always a good thing either. We never want our kids to be the aggressor, but we would always like for them to be able to defend themselves in the proper setting. I know it's hard, but she is not too young to put in a time out, or even placed in her bed in her room until the fit stops. Good luck, and I have been there so I know how you feel. With proper judgement on your part this shall soon pass.



answers from Cincinnati on

Hi - Yes, as others have said, keep being consistent with the redirecting, time-outs, etc. My son started this at about 16 months as well and here are a few things that have helped so far: I take his hand and show him how to 'pet gently' (have done this 100 times it seems). I fortunatley have a mellow dog too, but I put him outside when my son is in rare form to lessen the temptation. I have also taught him ways to positively interact with our dog - he feeds him (I have to help) and he plays fetch with him outside - He LOVES this! I have taught my daughter to say "no" and walk away when he gets aggressive towards her - he does not like to be away from her, so this works. I have practice times, (when he is not acting out)where I show him how to pat my face, pat his sister on the back, pet the dog, pat a baby on the back. He has responded well to this. Another one that works very well is after correcting, I immediately give him something to do - like find his shoes or his football. I sometimes take him outside to run around, play ball - anything to burn off some energy!
Hope it helps



answers from Cleveland on

keep consistant in letting her know that hitting not an exceptable way to vent yor anger yelling and screaming or ok children need to vent to i would start using a time out for hitting not for getting angry just the hitting she will get the message if you stay consistant but you have to make sure that this isnt something she sees happening around her she might be copying someone elses actions not to say you are doing it but anyone around her could use hitting to vent anger even if it is just hitting a wall all she sees is the hitting well best of luck to you went thru this stage myself but now mine are teenagers so over that now im into dating UGH!!!!!



answers from Toledo on

I know exactly what you are going through.My 2 1/2 y.o did it and still does it. She is getting better and I have to confess that I am not constant in anything. That girl wears me down to where I just don't care anymore sometimes. All I can say is try to be as constant as you can in timeouts and letting her know what she is feeling.
Luckily the dog is friendly and doesn't care what happens to her. Mine has been nipped at and she deserved it. She doesn't mess with them like that anymore just uses them as a step stool now. LOL
Let me know of the responses. I forget alot and probably will forget to come back to read them.
Thanks and Good luck!

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