Most young children occasionally bite, hit or push another child. Toddlers are curious and may not understand that biting or pulling hair hurts.
This doesn’t mean your child will grow up to be aggressive. Here are ways to teach your child that this behaviour is unacceptable:
Don’t hit, bite or kick back. This could make your child think it’s acceptable to do this. Instead, make it clear that what they’re doing hurts and that you won’t allow it.
Take them out of the situation. If you’re with other children, say you’ll leave or ask the other children to leave unless your child’s behaviour improves. You must be prepared to carry this out if you want it to work.
Put your child in another room. If you’re at home, try this for a short period. Check that they’re safe before you leave them.
Talk to them. Children often go through phases of being upset or insecure, and express their feelings by being aggressive. Finding out what’s worrying them is the first step to being able to help.
Show them you love them, but not their behaviour. Children may be behaving badly because they need more love. Show you love them by praising good behaviour and giving them plenty of cuddles when they’re not behaving badly.
Help them let their feelings out in another way. Find a big space, such as a park, and encourage your child to run and shout. Letting your child know that you recognise their feelings will make it easier for them to express themselves without hurting anyone else. You could try saying things like, “I know you’re feeling angry about…”. As well as showing you recognise their frustration, it will help them be able to name their own feelings and think about them.
Ask an expert. If you’re seriously concerned about your child’s behaviour, talk to your health visitor or doctor.