Parent tips toddler discipline : Controlling Tantrums and Hostile Aggression
Aggression is a behavior that results in physical or mental injury to people or animals, or in the destruction of property. It is different from assertion.
Assertion is an act of self-defense. It protects someone from becoming a victim of other people’s aggressive behavior.
Assertiveness is an important indication of developmental progress, as it reflects a child’s capabilities and sense of independence.
Aggression is often learned at an early age through “social reinforcing” or role modeling. Babies study the expressions of others to learn how to act.
From birth, babies already feel pleasure, distress, and even fear. By the age of 3 months, they are capable of recognizing expressions of joy and sadness. Babies 6 to 12 months old can slowly show signs of hostile aggression by biting, wailing, and even slapping.
From 12 to 18 months old, children are continuously experimenting and picking up emotional cues from their parents, caregivers, and peers. Their emotional-internal response goes through tests and fine-tuning, as they determine which response or action fits a situation.
By age 2, kids can express emotions like empathy and shame. Hostile aggression appears as tantrums, and happen when they fail to communicate their emotions.
Pre-schoolers, on the other hand, manifest aggression through hitting or saying threatening words. According to experts, when children turn to aggression, it doesn’t mean they’re bad.
It’s just an indication that there is something they can’t express. Something is causing them internal pain. Parents should try to understand what is going on in their child’s life.
There is a huge responsibility to understand the developmental stage of childhood.
To deal with kids’ aggressive behavior, parents can try to:
– Soothe them. Most children calm down and feel better when they are held. Sometimes a loving touch is all they need.
– Amuse or surprise them. Provide kids with diversions that are sure to keep their mind away from unruly behavior.
Using non-sarcastic humor or doing the unexpected can defuse an explosive situation. Giving kids something to occupy their minds turns negative attention into something positive.
Discuss with them the consequences of hurting others: what happens if they use aggression, and what ways there are other than violence.
– Ignore. Don’t enforce aggressive behavior on kids by giving a child more attention. Underplay bad behavior as much as possible. Stick by your decision and don’t easily give in to their plea for attention.
As parents, therefore, we should keep the following in mind at all times.
– Be a model of good behavior.
– Giving in to your children’s demands tells them that tantrums bring desired results.
– Don’t allow your embarrassment to weaken your better judgment.
– Reassess all factors that may stir up a tantrum. See if you can do something to help them settle down before they totally blow up.
– Take time out. You can employ this as a way to remove your child from the situation and cool him or her down.
And this applies to you, too. Don’t forget to explain the reason for the time-out, but do this in a tone that is firm but mild.
– Intervene and teach empathy. Empathy is taught when you put them in a situation that makes them feel what others are feeling.
Every human being needs to learn how to deal with frustration. Tantrums are the first step in accommodating frustration.
If your child does not throw any fit at all, that is not necessarily something to be proud of. It is a parent’s job to help children learn more productive ways of dealing with obstructions.
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