Parenting Connection: Helping young children channel their aggression

Parenting Connection

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: Helping Young Children Channel Their Aggression

Most developmental experts say a child finding a healthy balance of aggressive behavior is probably one of the most difficult tasks of growing up. You don’t want your kids to start a fight, but you also don’t want them to not stand up for themselves either.

Experts say, aggression starts at infancy — when babies begin to push, pull, or exert force against another person or object to get what they want. During the second year, experts say a child develops a better awareness of the separateness as a person and can begin to understand that he or she is angry at someone and behave with intentional force. It’s at this point, according to child development expert Kendra Moyses, a parent can help channel these aggresive behaviors.

“They may take a toy away from a child or push them down, or we see biting in children, and these are all outward aggressions for a purpose. They are trying to communicate a need that they have. One of the things we want to remind parents is that these behaviors are absolutely normal, but what we need to do is start to understand how we can support our children through these times they are frustrated, especially for non-verbal kids, and how they may be able to express that communication in a different way.”

Suggestions, according to the parental resource “Zero to Three” to help parents manage aggression in very young children include:

*Understanding limits are part of loving. Experts say children who feel loved want to please their parents, and putting reasonable restrictions on your child’s behavior is part of loving them.

*Be clear. Tell your child what you want him or her to do or not do in specific situations.

*Use redirection. When your child is being aggressive in ways you don’t like, stop the behavior, quickly talk about why, and give him or her something else to do.

*Be a role model. Kids learn from our actions.

*Be patient; learning takes time.

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