Understanding your tot's triggers can prevent a meltdown.
Watch out, Mom and Dad: now that Junior is a toddler, his feet, hands and teeth have become a means of communication. If bonding with your tot means getting bitten, slapped or kicked, it is time to curb his aggressive behavior. Leaving his aggression unchecked may mean that those hits and slaps continue throughout your tot's childhood. Take a long look in the mirror first, parents: showing physical aggression toward others in front of your toddler will encourage him to do the same to others.
1Watch for any events that frequently trigger your tot's aggression. Does Sally often fight her brother for toys before she has a meltdown? Does Junior stomp his feet, scream and slap others whenever Dad holds the new baby? Hitting, punching and kicking in toddlers is a means of communication: those slaps might actually mean, "I'm jealous of my brother."
2Provide solutions to your tot's triggers. If the kids are fighting over toys, put out their favorite toys or set a timer, letting each child know he must pass a particular toy onto his sibling after so long. If your toddler has been seeing green ever since you came home with a new bundle of joy, give her plenty of one-on-one time with Mom and Dad. Emphasizing how important her role is as a new big sister can give her aggression the knock-out punch.
3Respond calmly but firmly when your tot starts throwing punches or kicks. Say, "We do not hit. Hitting hurts Daddy." You can also redirect your tot's aggression into another gesture, like saying to him, "Why don't we shake hands?" A child's meltdown may also be swayed by a distraction, like pointing out something happening outside or something on TV.
4Encourage your tot's non-aggressive communication methods. If your toddler now shakes hands or high-fives instead of slapping or punching, provide some incentive to continue that behavior. Smile and say, "Great job! It is great that you shook hands with me when you were upset!" Showing consistency each time your tot has a blow-up could mean that there will be less aggression in everybody's future.
- Some children need quiet time to let off some steam. Take your tyke to a quiet room where he can play with his toys and calm down when he gets aggressive. After a few minutes, let him return to his normal activities. Remember, Mom: this is not a punishment, but a way to let Junior cool his heels before he sees everyone again.