angry girl with crossed arms EQtainment
Also, kicking, biting and throwing. Sigh.

Hey, it’s not easy being little. When kids are toddlers, it’s normal for them to test boundaries — including “What will happen if I bite his arm?” It’s more curious than vindictive. As kids enter the preschool and elementary school years, aggressive behavior can become a way to express frustration. Sure, you can (and should) take steps to minimize negative behavior, but chances are good that your kid is still going to act out sometimes. Here’s what to do when it happens (and how to help keep it from happening again):

  1. Keep your cool. When your child loses it, you want to stay calm, not escalate the situation with your own anger. Remember, your child is looking to you to learn how to handle difficult emotions, so don’t let yours get the best of you.
  2. Console the other child. Give your attention to the kid who got hit: Ask if they’re okay and if they need anything. Say, “I’m sorry Morgan hurt you” to model the behavior you want your child to show. P.S. Don’t force your kid to say sorry while they’re still upset or you’re likely to get an insincere, yelled apology — which does nothing to teach your kid to put themselves in the other child’s shoes or make the other child feel better.
  3. Remove your child from the situation. Get down on your child’s level and say something like “I know it was tough for you to stay calm when Charlie took your toy, but hitting hurts! Let’s take a break until we’re feeling calm again.” Don’t lecture or actually say much at all — your child can’t really hear you when they’re in the middle of a meltdown anyway. And if your child is crying, don’t tell them to stop. Remember, your job isn’t to get them to stop feeling upset; it’s to help them figure out how to deal with those intense emotions.
  4. Talk about what you do when you’re mad. Once your child has cooled off, remind them that everyone gets mad sometimes, and the important thing is to figure out how to handle it. Share what you do to deal with anger — maybe walking away and counting to 10 slowly, for example. Then ask your kid for ideas on what they think could help them calm down next time — before they hit, kick, bite or throw. If they can’t come up with anything, try a few suggestions, like taking deep breaths (practicing with the Q-Time Buddy every night helps!), punching their pillow or stamping their feet.
  5. Give fair warning. Let your child know that if the behavior happens again, you’ll have to end the play date and try playing again another day. Then follow through if necessary.
  6. Address the other kid’s feelings. Before your child returns to playing, ask “How do you think Charlie felt when you hit him? What could you do now to make it better?” These questions open the door for empathy and a true apology. 

 

Help your little buddy practice slowing down with deep, calming breaths with the Q-Time Buddy.