Dealing with Child Aggression: Understanding and Managing Aggressive Behavior | Butterfly Learnings

Date of Publishing:   

22 May, 2023


Behavioral Challenges



Understanding and Managing Child Aggression: A Guide for Parents

Children show aggressive behaviors by hitting & yelling at others or start hitting themselves when they get angry or something really troubles them. A very common problem parents face.

It becomes more difficult for them to manage behaviors when the child is outside yelling in a public place. It is embarrassing when they get a barrage of complaints from other parents if he beats or lashes out at his peers.

They try various things to deal with the child's aggression and lastly parents find themselves in thoughts like 'What's wrong with my child?' or 'Am I a negligent parent?'

Dear parents, please do not worry, there is nothing wrong with your child, neither you are a negligent parent. Realistically speaking, you are a human dealing with another tiny human who is experiencing some tough emotions.

What causes aggression?

We need to understand children don't show challenging behaviors for no reason because for them; it is the only language through which they can communicate their unmet needs.

Children get emotionally overwhelmed. They lack the ability to express themselves verbally. They act aggressively because the behavior has been reinforced previously: the child gained access to something, escaped a difficult situation, or attracted your attention.

How to find what is troubling your child?

There are two things you need to figure out by asking yourself these questions:

  • What is triggering the behavior?
  • What child is trying to communicate?

i) What is triggering the behavior?

Find out what took place before the child responded to it aggressively. To get a better insight, take notes once the child has regained his calm.

After 1 or 2 weeks, if you go through the notes, you will understand what makes him feel angry or frustrated.

For example, the child started head-banging after the parent took him to study.

ii) What child is trying to communicate?

Try to observe if there is something that the child is trying to communicate by showing behaviors? It can help you figure out the reason behind aggressive behavior.

Ways to Deal with Your Toddler's Aggressive Behavior

  1. Stay Calm.
  2. Speak very limited words.
  3. Take your child to a safer place.
  4. Come to the child's pace.
  5. Focus on building a positive relationship.

1) Stay Calm

Staying calm is the most important thing that a parent should do when the child is aggressive. Do not yell or shout because there is a strong possibility that he will try to match your volume by screaming more. Adding your own emotions will only complicate the situation.

So, stay calm & quiet. Have a neutral face expression.

2) Speak very limited words

When the child gets super angry, he enters a zone where his brain cannot process what mom & dad are saying.

Talk little in short phrases or a few words which the child can understand at that moment. For example, 'drink water' instead of 'kiddo drink water and you will feel good.'

3) Take your child to a safer place

Take your child to a safe place that is free of hazards (for e.g., glass objects, shelves, etc). Take him to his room or any other comfortable environment which helps him to cool his mind.

Do not leave him alone. Stay with him. Try to console and let him know you are there.

These three situations will help you diffuse that situation. Now What steps must be taken to reduce aggression completely?

4) Come to the child's pace

When you are giving instructions, try to see it from a child's perspective because they process things slowly and transitioning from one activity to another is difficult. They need our support to give simple instructions and allow extra time to make the transition as smooth as possible.

5) Focus on building a positive relationship

We need to understand that children, like adults, do have bad moods. Instead of negating them, we have to teach them how to regulate emotions and put their feelings into words.

Kids are more likely to show good behavior when they are reinforced for doing good things. Give them positive feedback if they have done something correctly.


When children don't have skills to convey their needs, they show aggressive behaviors to communicate those needs. If you are a parent trying to figure out a solution to calm down your aggressive child, then follow our advice. First, you need to figure out what is triggering the behavior. Second, try to understand what your child is trying to communicate. Understanding your child's problem is the first part of solving the problem.

There are 5 ways to deal with your toddler's aggressive behavior: stay calm, speak very limited words, take your child to a safer place, come to the child's pace, and focus on building a positive relationship.

Children with developmental delays show aggression

There is a problem that the parents are unaware of. Children with developmental delays may have difficulty in expressing their needs and frustrations through words or other ways of communication. This results in the child showing aggression to communicate those unmet needs and tough feelings. Also, this behavior is their way to draw the parent's attention towards their needs and express their fears, frustration or anxiety.

It is important for us parents and caregivers to understand that these aggressive behavior in children with developmental delays may not be intentional or malicious. Rather, it is an indication that the child is struggling to communicate effectively.

To support these children, it is crucial to provide them with alternative methods of communication, such as using pictures or gestures, and to address their underlying needs and emotions in a compassionate and understanding manner.

Developmental delays in children are often undiagnosed because of two reasons: due to lack of awareness among parents and limited access to developmental & behavioral healthcare. Early intervention can improve outcomes for children with developmental delays, making it important for parents and caregivers to notice their child's developmental milestones closely.

Want us to help?

Butterfly Learnings offers evidenced-based behavior therapy for children who engage in aggressive behaviors. Our care team comprises Board Certified Behavior Analyst & Pediatric Neurologist providing you guidance & consultation and well trained Behavior Therapists who can understand your child and help him learn daily living skills.

Aggressive behavior definition aba: We provide ABA therapy that is effective in reducing aggressive behaviors like hitting, kicking, biting, pulling hair, pinching and spitting.

You can contact us to book an appointment.

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