Young children, including toddlers, may exhibit seemingly aggressive behaviors. Around 12-18 months of age, children are learning how to separate from their caregiver(s). This can be a stressful time! Additionally, it is a critical point in child development as their language skills expand. While toddlers and young preschool students become increasingly verbal, they may continue to rely on body language—such as hitting or biting—to express stress, anger, sadness, etc.
When working with young children, it is important to remember the specific child’s age when assessing aggressive behavior. For infants—from 0-12 months—it is helpful to redirect unwanted behavior after acknowledging how the infant may feel. For example, if a baby pulls your hair, you can say, “Ouch, that hurts my body.” Then, direct the infant towards something positive they can do with their hands.
This process of redirecting is relevant for toddlers, too. However, you can also provide the child with language surrounding the behavior. A few other tips include: staying calm, recognizing the child’s feelings, offering alternatives, and encouraging the child to take a break. These tips are practiced by PFM staff and can be emulated in the home environment.
For additional information and support, we invite you to read this article. Throughout the month of April, we will host parent-teacher conferences. This is an opportune time to discuss your child’s behavior and how best to support their physical and emotional development.