Dealing with aggressive behavior in toddlers

Donna Holloran, MSW Parent Educator, shares advice for parents on the best methods for dealing with aggressive behavior in toddlers and redirecting that behavior towards something positive
How to Deal with Aggressive Behavior in Toddlers
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Dealing with aggressive behavior in toddlers

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One of parents' biggest fears is that aggressive phase that almost all toddlers go through, and some go through it very big. They push, they bite, they hit, they pull hair, and I tell parents, I say, "Stop focusing on what you don't want him to do," because I'll constantly hear, "Stop hitting. No hitting." Before parents arrive at a play date you'll hear them, "Now remember, don't hit your friend." I tell parents you've now just inserted that idea into your child's head. The better way to try and do this is to insert the pictures of what you want them to do. We're going on a play date. Hands are for waving. Hands are for saying hello. Hands are for throwing kisses. Hands are for holding. Hands are for gentle touches. When you see your friend Kelly, say hi Kelly and wave with your hand. When I see a little child starting to push or hit another child, I'll come running over, and I'll put my hand on the child's hand then I'll say, "Did you want to say hi to your friend Kelly? Say hi Kelly. Hi Kelly. Can you throw Kelly a kiss," and then I'll have the child throw them a kiss. And that usually redirects them right away, but it is important to know that toddlers do go through this phase and sometimes they're hitting and biting because they're tired or they're hungry or they're overstimulated so it's important to know your child. And if you think it's around having something to eat, "It seems like you're hungry. Say I'm hungry." Go get them something to eat. If you just walked into a play date and your child starts to hit or bite everybody or push, you know what, it might be better to say, "I don't think this is going to be a good day for a play date for us. We'll come back another time." Don't make your child feel bad about leaving. Again, remember, they're still trying to get ahold of these feelings and understand what they're all about. Set them up to be successful. That's the goal.

Donna Holloran, MSW Parent Educator, shares advice for parents on the best methods for dealing with aggressive behavior in toddlers and redirecting that behavior towards something positive

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Donna Holloran, MSW

Parent Educator

Donna Holloran moved to Los Angeles from Indianapolis in 1984 to pursue her graduate education and to continue building on her passion---working with young children and their families.  After attaining her MSW from UCLA, Donna also received a Certification in Infant Mental Health.  She practices as a parent educator and child development specialist. In 1996, Donna founded Babygroup in Santa Monica, California.

Babygroup provides guidance and insight to parents of infants and young children in small, intimate parent-child groups, inspiring parents to recognize and respond appropriately to their child’s developmental needs. Babygroup is also about developing strong friendships for parents and children, resulting in a true community of support.

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