Addressing Aggressive Toddler Behavior

Salt Lake City, UT — (ReleaseWire) — 01/04/2022 — Toddlers and tantrums go hand in hand. But as children grow, some tantrums teeter into aggressive behavior.

“Parents often wonder how they can address a toddler’s biting or hitting, or help calm severe emotional outbursts,” said Dr. Peter Lindgren, a pediatrician with Intermountain Medical Group. “A good starting point is to address the specific behavior, help children calm themselves, and when they’re behaving, praise them.”

Dr. Lindgren gives four tips to parents to address aggressive behaviors:

Teach children to say how they feel. Parents can say things, like, “Mommy is feeling really frustrated right now.” They also can observe their child may be feeling, such as, “It looks like you’re feeling sad.”

Model positive ways to calm down. The American Association of Pediatrics suggests a parent frustrated about being stuck in traffic could say something like this: “Daddy is really frustrated right now. Please help me calm down by taking 10 deep breaths with me.”

Pay attention to what you pay attention to. If you direct your attention only to misbehavior, you’ll get more misbehavior, Dr. Lindgren said. Pay attention to the behaving child, and point out specific positive behaviors, such as “Good job on using your inside voice.”

Take a time-out in a safe place without toys. “It’s important that time out doesn’t become a punishment, or something you do when angry. Take a few deep breaths, remain calm, and tell the child, ‘time out โ€“ hitting,'” Dr. Lindgren said. “Once the child is calm, even for a moment, praise him and invite him to come out.”

Here are some additional ways to help children improve behavior, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics:

– Build structure and routines in your children’s day, and make sure they’re getting enough sleep
– Use discipline strategies to guide and teach instead of punish.
– Be calm and consistent when disciplining your children.
– Understand a child’s negative behaviors have benefited them in some way in the past.
– Reinforce good behavior with praise and repetition.
– Anticipate and plan for situations and your children’s behavior.

If things aren’t getting better, make sure you and your child are getting enough sleep. Recognize family changes, a new house, a violent event in the community or other extraneous event may create stress in the child’s body that makes him unable to focus or control his emotions. In such cases, respond in a nurturing way instead of with discipline, and return to a routine to help him find a sense of safety and control.

“Talk to your pediatrician if behaviors continue to escalate or you have additional concerns,” Dr. Lindgren said. “We will work with children and help connect families to additional resources they may need.”

About Intermountain Healthcare
Located in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, the Intermountain Medical Group with some 2,700 employed physicians and advanced care practitioners, a health plans division called SelectHealth, Homecare, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information, see Intermountain Healthcare or the Intermountain Healthcare Blog.

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