9 Ways to Reduce Aggression in Your Child

2 year(s) ago
9 Ways to Reduce Aggression in Your Child

Children's parks are the best place to observe child behavior and psychology! Some children push their way ahead, get what they want, some always stay behind and need their parents for everything while some don't even look for their parents! Recently, I was at a park and I saw a child pushing and hitting others, oblivious to the fact that another child was getting hurt. My friend asked me, ‘how can a four year old be so aggressive?'

To answer her question, we need to understand the meaning of aggression. Aggression is a feeling of anger resulting in hostile or violent behavior with an intention of inflicting damage. And yes, children can very well be aggressive. But what separates aggression from playful fighting is the ‘intention to cause harm.' Some children are very boisterous and over active. They perpetually land themselves or others in trouble but they may not intend harm. This behavior should not be confused with aggression.

Biting, hitting, pushing, are all expressions of aggression. But aggression is not only physical, it could also be verbal in the form of name calling, ridiculing or criticizing. A few studies have shown that there are gender differences in the expression of aggression, with boys being more physically aggressive and girls being verbally aggressive. Both can be equally harmful.

Aggression does not have one single cause and it could be a result of the interplay between two or more factors.

Prenatal factors

Like maternal stress, alcoholism and smoking by mother could be one factor.  A low frustration tolerance level, disturbed family, parental conflict, faulty disciplining techniques, aggressive parents, over exposure to violence through media and disturbed neighbourhood are other factors which could lead to an aggressive personality.

The causes are endless and at times some could be out of our control. But what are the steps that I can take as a parent to stop my child from being an ‘aggressive child'?

Start early

It is a very common practice to soothe a crying child by mock hitting a chair or any other object that caused it to fall. Very early, children learn that if things do not go their way, they can hit or kick their way out. Do not do that. Help the child to understand that he alone is responsible for his actions. You do not need to lecture an infant or toddler about being responsible, but you do not need to hit the chair too! There are other ways of pacifying him.

Discipline right

Research has shown that heavy use of corporal punishment by care givers, non responsive parenting, using shame and humiliation to discipline, inability to control are all factors that could lead to aggression in the child. Similarly, do not give in to all demands immediately. Be rational. This will help in increasing the frustration tolerance level of the child, which is extremely important especially in today's indulgent nuclear family structure.

Television cannot be a baby sitter-

Even if your child is watching ‘safe cartoons' sit with your child. Always discuss advertisements or cartoon shows with them. Talk about what is shown; ask them if it is right and what they think about it. Tone down the aggressive content through your conversation.

Develop empathy

So next time a character gets hurt on television, you could say, ‘Ouch that must have hurt!' The child is gradually learning to be more sensitive towards others.

Be good role models

Don't Scream!' Don't we all do this some time? We scream out our lungs to tell our child to stop screaming!! If we as parents stop hitting, slapping, shouting, ridiculing, we will surely have fewer aggressive children in society. Arguments between partners and other adult family members should not take place in the presence of children.

Talk about alternatives

There is always more than one way of doing anything. Talk about other options. ‘Ok, he irritated you, you hit him. Now can you think of some other way of dealing with this situation, which does not land either of you in trouble?' A word of caution here- such a conversation can and should take place only when the child has reasonably calmed down.

Understand the cause

Children are not very apt at expressing their emotions. Sometimes, aggressive behavior could be a manifestation of sadness, boredom, guilt or envy. Talk to your child and help him verbalize his emotions. Be extra affectionate. Be unconditional. Distinguish between person and behavior. Try not to be judgmental!

Trust your child

Is your child aggressive only in specific situations or with specific people? There lies your answer. There is a specific trigger here. Some children love to tease, others slyly and innocently get away with it. But the provoked child's aggressive reactions are visible to all. If such is the case, you need to take a proactive role here. Depending on the age of the child, this is also a good time to talk about essential life skills about dealing with difficult people.

Be firm

Tell your child in clear terms that any kind of aggressive behavior is simply not acceptable and he or she needs to look for options towards problem solving. Assure them that you are there with them but the wrong behavior should not be condoned.

In spite of our best efforts, there could be instances when we have to deal with aggressive children. If the frequency, intensity and duration of such instances is high and none of the above factors help, it is probably time to take professional help.

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Rashmi Tarang
July 18, 2016 @ 06:27 AM

Good read but many things dont help in reality being in nuclear family. Schools, teachers also play important role. I am in the same phase right now with a 4yr old daughter and things have worsened with my 5month son coming into picture. Some more practical tips would hekp

Prachi Chitre
November 30, 2016 @ 11:07 AM

Hi Rashmi, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I agree with you that the environment plays an important role and school and teachers are part of that environment. I can understand your stress but am not very clear with 'the same phase' that you have mentioned. Each child is unique and what is written in general may not apply to each child. If you could write a mail to appy store about your specific query (that is if time hasn't answered it by now:)), I would be glad to help.

swati gupta
August 27, 2015 @ 07:34 AM

Very well said. Liked it...

Prachi Chitre
December 13, 2015 @ 09:39 PM

Thank u Swati!

Priyanka Chaturvedi
August 04, 2015 @ 12:20 AM

Parenting has became a difficult task now a days socially when u r in nuclear family....need to know more abt good parenting.......

Prachi Chitre
October 12, 2015 @ 01:52 PM

Very true Priyanka. If you could suggest some issues that you would like to read about, please let us know.

July 16, 2015 @ 01:09 PM

Hii. My daughter is of 7 now. She was very good and decent child who always followed her parents and elders. But 2 yrs back I delivered a baby and something goes wrong to me and I am still on bed and my daughter is totally changed. She misbehaves to everyone not even listen to me. I am really worried.please suggest what should I do as I always treat her politely and motivate her but no strong results.

July 24, 2015 @ 12:25 PM

Below is our expert, Prachi Chitre's, response: Hello Annu, sorry to hear about your physical condition. Your daughter's behaviour appears to be a direct consequence of the change in the family dynamics. The birth of a younger sibling by itself is a very stressful event for the elder sibling. In your case this has been aggravated by your physical condition. Children too get stressed with the environment, they have a different way of reacting. There seems to be a lot of negativity bottled in her due to the changed family structure. This needs to come out. If you can non judgmentally talk to her calmly, please do it. I am sure you have done it before but try again. Talk to her about your condition, give her facts. Tell her how her behaviour makes you feel. Clearly state your expectations from her. Keep assuring her that no matter what, you love her and she will always be your special first baby. Differentiate between her behaviour and her as a person. Please consider the option of going to a counsellor if you see no change in her. All the best!

July 16, 2015 @ 02:33 AM


Prachi Chitre
July 16, 2015 @ 02:08 PM

Thank u Vanita

July 12, 2015 @ 11:44 PM

Hi prachi....my daughter is turning two next mnth...she has started a weird behaviour.while playing with other kids,she wants all the toys or other stuff like cycles.She will run towards a toy or cycle which another kid wants to have ,even if each one had his own.I fear no kid will play with her.really worried....Plz suggest wat to do.thanks

Prachi Chitre
July 16, 2015 @ 02:24 PM

Hello Deepika, I understand your concern, but let me assure you that if handled well this will just be a phase. Do not fret too much about the future. Be clear and specific in your instructions. Prepare her in advance when she is going to be with other kids. Assure her that she will get her share, but so will the others. If she is at her place, give her a choice first before the other kids arrive about the toy that she wants to play with. She cannot change her mind after the kids arrive. Be very firm that she cannot have everything. Be ready for tantrums but do not give in. Distract her, take her out of the room, but do not give in. Inculcate the habit of sharing by making her distribute everything like chocolates and candies among all members of the family even if they are adults. They might not eat it, but she has to learn to share with others. Help her to understand the concept of taking turns. Reward her with lots of smileys, stars and kisses when she listens. Praise her. Hope this helps you.

pooja Dutt Chhibber
July 07, 2015 @ 09:14 PM

This article is very useful thanks.

Prachi Chitre
July 16, 2015 @ 02:07 PM

Thank u Pooja

jaya jaiswal
July 01, 2015 @ 07:44 AM

My child is hyperactive.He always tends to irritate people while they are studying or watching tv or if they are just sitting n having a chat.But he never tends to do that things with me.But i need to handle him when everyone calls me to handle .So could you suggest what can i do for such situation. Your blogs has helped me a lot.

Prachi Chitre
July 06, 2015 @ 01:01 PM

I am glad to know Jaya that my blogs have helped you. I think your child is just being naughty! Hyperactivity is a clinical condition not to be confused with naughty and boisterous behaviour. The fact that he listens to you indicates that he is aware of his limits. You will have to talk to others in the family so that there is a uniform way of handling him. Have discussion with him, explain how his behaviour makes you feel..use positive reinforcements to strengthen desired behaviour. I wish you all the best. For more queries, please email us.

June 26, 2015 @ 04:24 PM


Prachi Chitre
July 06, 2015 @ 12:56 PM

Thank u Shikha

June 10, 2015 @ 07:56 AM

Well said..great!

Prachi Chitre
June 12, 2015 @ 02:59 PM

Thank u Puja

Prachi Chitre
Prachi has more than 15 years experience in the field of Mental Health. During this time, she has helped parents manage a variety of issues ranging from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD), Autism, giftedness, cognitive impairment, emotional and behavioural difficulties to daily child development/ parental concerns. She holds a Masters in Human Development and Bachelors in Psychology. Her 11 year old son and gang of nieces and nephews offer her multiple opportunities to practice the concepts of Child Development, lest she forgets to view things from a child’s point of view.

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