At the age of 2-4 years, toddlers can suddenly become aggressive and hard to control. What to do? Try to reduce aggression by engaging your little one into games! This is the easiest way to get rid of stress and express negative emotions without hurting oneself.
Don’t suppress negative emotions – find a way to let them out.
Where children aggression comes from?
Every person has aggression hidden inside – it’s simply our nature, a specific defensive mechanism that’s triggered as the reaction to the sources of irritation. When a dangerous situation occurs – for instance, someone takes away kid’s toy or starts striking, he or she usually protects oneself. However, as they say, offence is the best defence…
Sometimes, the background behavior itself can become aggressive – a kid starts attacking the others, put the focus on bad things, says words that can hurt people around. No, that doesn’t mean the child has suddenly become bad. That means that there’s some factor that keeps provoking the aggression again and again.
First and foremost, parents need to find out what has caused aggression:
- The atmosphere in the family. If mom and dad argue and quarrel, a kid can take it personally. Pretty often, children think that it must be their fault.
- Physical and moral abuse, humiliation, psychological refusal from the kid. Every wrong action and word (as well as the absence of support and warm words) can leave deep moral wounds. Sometimes kids go wrong just to attract parents’ attention- that’s a typical reaction.
- Wrong methods of upbringing. Sometimes, to force a child to hurry up, a mom can say “Now I’m leaving, and you stay”. However, using such an approach all the time you make a toddler experience stress. Fear of separation from mother is the most dreadful one for kids.
- Hostile environment in school/kindergarten. As a rule, there are always some highly aggressive kinds in a class or group who keep bullying the peers and even teachers who can threat pupils to reach their own goals.
- Non-acceptance of kid’s feelings, prohibition of expression of sadness and insult. Most probably, as a kid yourself, you might have heard phrases like “Oh look at yourself – you’re so ugly when you’re crying” or “Don’t you cry! You’re a boy!” But who said that boys have no right to cry, and girls cannot be upset? If negative emotions are not burst and kept inside, they start accumulating and may cause aggressive behavior.
- Constant agitation. When a mom fears everything as the devil fears the holy water and tries to protect her toddler from every little thing, a kid starts thinking that the whole world around is dangerous. What does it lead to? Right. That triggers the protection mechanism: “Everything can hurt me, so I’m always ready to defend myself and strike back”.
Raul Silva from Child Ming Institute also outlines a few psychological and health disorders that cause aggression in kids.
How does children aggression look?
Aggression in kids can be expressed in different ways. As the rule, a child:
- fights with parents, siblings, and peers;
- says insulting or curse words;
- hurts himself – bites and scratches the skin, bumps the head, etc;
- does not come to compromise with friends, does not want to cut corners;
- loves villains in books and cartoons try to copy them and doesn’t notice the positive heroes.
10 games to reduce aggression and relieve stress
To harness kid’s energy and let it go, psychologists recommend playing games where the behavior can be controlled. Practice playing at home with parents or nanny, or in a kindergarten in groups. The more often you try it, the better – it takes time to reduce aggression and notice positive impact.
1. “Call me names”
A mom and a kid stand in front of each other and throw a ball in their hands. A kid may say “offensive” words that are not prohibited. For instance, “You’re a rabbit!” or “You are a potato!”
Take a pillow and offer the little one to dust it. Let your son/daughter punch it and even scream.
3. “Pillow fight”
Engage, too. Switch on some cheerful music, take pillows, and make a small fight. You should state the strict rules – not to bite with arms, not to pronounce bad words. If these rules are violated, the game stops.
Pretending to fight can greatly reduce aggression and let the negative feelings out. Crumple up pieces of paper and throw them into each other.
A kid can tear paper into small pieces and throw it above head full-force. Don’t forget to clean it up together.
6. “Run, ball, run!”
Put a tennis ball on a flat surface. Offer your child to blow it so that it would roll by some certain trajectory. Psychologists claim that games with breathing exercises are the most effective ones.
If your toddler loves bathing, offer him/her blowing on the water surface to make ripples. Kid’s efforts should be intense enough.
Sit in front of your baby and offer to blow you off. Let the kid inhale as strongly as he can and blow air on you. Pretend to be resisting the storm as much as you can.
A toddler can lie on the floor, straighten legs, and kick them on the floor. Every kick can be accompanied by a resounding “No!”
Play football with a pillow or a soft toy. It can be taken away, kicked, thrown – just make sure the kid follows the rules.
Playing these games, a kid can reduce aggression and let all the negative emotions out. Remember: suppressing angry thoughts and feelings is no good for both adults and kids, so you just need to figure out a harmless way to release the negative energy.
How do you help your children calm down and relieve stress?