Toddler anger, aggression & tantrums

Kat - posted on 05/21/2011 ( 10 moms have responded )




My Daughter 2.5yr seems to me to be out of control with her anger. As per most all 2 years olds she has tantrums, but she is so very angry. Grits her teeth & growls. It is very upsetting. I also have a 11 month old. My 2.5yr is a bully toward her little sister. She is constantly physically picking on her & making her cry. I have tried time out, I have tried ignoring the bad behaviour & rewarding the good behaviour. I have even tried a smack on the bottom or her hand. Nothing works. I have tried hugging her & telling her how much I love her when she seems enraged. I am a very affectionate Mother. She is hugged & kissed every day, all the time. As is her sister. I am careful to make it even. I include #1 in all of #2's achievements etc. She sleeps very well, always has done. Her eating isn't the best at the moment. She has been cutting her big 2yr molars, but up until these 4 molars she has been a sensational teether. No problems with her at all. I get complimented all the time on her manners when we are out. She has an exceptional vocabulary for her age. She is often complimented on her sentences & her manners. But even out she will slyly bully her sister. Pretending to kiss her hand then biting it. Patting her head then smacking it. Sitting on her. Standing on her and bouncing. She really is a handful at times. She gives me a look that says "I laugh at you & I will not do anything you say". She says no to me all the time. I am very consistent. I don't let things slide. I am having difficulty now keeping positive with my parenting. I'm finding I am getting cranky with her & I don't like it. My Husband is extremely intelligent & says that he probably would have been diagnosed with ADHD if it were around when he was a kid. I'm not saying my daughter has this. I just need some tips & direction in dealing with my daughter. She doesn't listen, she completely ignores me. Oh I could go on & on about how infuriating she is. Some of it is naughty, but some of it I'm sure is a problem that I'm missing. Too close to see or something.
And she also has very recently started having bad dreams. Today I walked in on a dream & she was tossing Woody out of the bed yelling out "no no no" in an angry tone. She was deep asleep. I feel for her being so angry at such a young age.


Katherine - posted on 05/21/2011




Aggression in children is part of their normal pattern of development.

Two year olds lack social skills, are totally egocentric and have few communication skills.

Therefore they act aggressively when things don't go their way - they lash out, bite, kick, hit and punch - all highly embarrassing to their parents.

Often, a lot of this behaviour is purely experimental too.

Aggressive feelings are very powerful.
Parents need to be consistent in the way they handle behavior that hurts others.

consistent parenting advice Say, "No! Hitting hurts!" and remove the child so the behavior cannot continue.

Help them to understand their behavior by naming it for them, especially if their feelings are very strong.

"You are angry and very upset because you wanted the toy and couldn't have it."

Aggression is a normal human response, and aggression in children is a normal developmental step. However, learning how to control our aggression is a sign of growing maturity.

We need to help our children to understand how to handle their aggressive feelings.

Let's look at what aggressive feelings do for us:
When playing sport, aggression is admired. We praise sportsmen for their aggressive batting stance in cricket; a tennis player is commended for aggressive racket and ball skills.

However, we decry nations for their aggressive stance toward each other in times of war. We abhor fighting in teenage boys, fearing it will lead them to a criminal life if not quickly stopped.

Aggressive feelings can also give us courage and determination.

They make us alert, insistent and aware, and bring a sense that obstacles can be overcome. This is in direct contrast to apathy, which leads to lethargy, non involvement and failure.

In order to conquer difficulties, we need a surge of planned aggression to make that last hurdle. Even a surge of anger, fed into our aggressive feelings can provide the impetus for success.

Aggression in children puts them in touch with their feelings of power. This can be in a positive way, but often appears to parents only in a negative way.

As parents we need to understand our own feelings of aggression and anger.

Often when two years olds suddenly become rough and aggressive, (girls and boys!) parents despair that their babies are growing into uncontrollable monsters. Instead, parents need to see this newly acquired aggression in their children's personality as a positive and good attribute.

Without aggressive feelings children become easily manipulated and timid.
Accept your child's aggressive feelings
It is very childish and silly behaviour to be angry with a young child who is learning to handle, understand and accept his aggressive feelings, yet this is exactly how many parents respond.

When you really think about it, would you become angry with your child when he is learning how to walk and keeps falling over, or learning how to talk and uses the wrong word?

Of course not!!

And yet, anger is most often the response toward a two year old when he hits out, bites, or shows his aggressive feelings.

When you accept that aggressive feelings are valuable, and that aggression in children can be very positive, to be developed for the benefit of everyone, then you handle them differently.

Try thinking about aggression in children in this way, and therefore treating your aggressive toddler differently.
When your toddler lashes out in defence or response, tell him/her,

It's good to see you are so determined. I'm glad you know what you want. It's good to grow up big and strong and to things for yourself.

It is also good for your toddler to see your aggression too when you explain, I understand that you are feeling really cross, but right now the problem is I need you to do this and so you are going to do it.

You are helping your child channel his aggressive feelings into making the acceptable decision at that moment.

Newly acquired aggressive feelings are big and powerful to small children, and very exciting too. Aggression in children need s to be kept within the range of others' tolerance.

Teaching and showing this is all part of accepting our aggressive feelings and building trust.

More than anything, our children need our approval, and helping them to accept and channel their aggressive feelings provides for growth and impetus for future change and is very important for them.

Consistent parenting sees aggression in children as a positive source of determination.
Aggression in Children - Training Your Toddler
Training your toddler to handle his aggression requires aggression on your part too. aggression in children When situations escalate out of control and your toddler has refused to co-operate with eating lunch, or taking his nap and now won't get into his car seat, aggression on your part is required to bring things together.

Tell him, I really admire your strong feelings and I can see you see really determined to be powerful, but right now, we need to be somewhere in ten minutes.

If you choose not to co-operate, then I will put you in the car by force.

It won't be pleasant, it could have been so much easier, but in this situation I will win.

So how about it?

Coming peacefully, or will I have to force you?

I will give you a few minutes to think about it.

In acting this way, you have accepted his aggressive feelings and told him you recognise them as good, but you have also demonstrated that he needs to recognise and accept yours too.

Because you are not acting from anger, his choice is easier to make. He would rather have your approval.

Don't take out your frustrations on your children

aggression in children When you are feeling frazzled, or ill, upset or very tired, tell your children.

I am already feeling very upset because (tell them the details), so I need you to co-operate. I'm not feeling angry with you.

This also helps your children to learn to express their emotions too, and gives them names to enable them to do this. It is surprising how even very young children can act accordingly when they understand what the situation is and what is expected from them.

When you are holding your stroppy two year old and he lashes out, pulling your hair, or hitting you, holding him firmly and telling him that you are glad he is so determined but that hitting is a big NO, is a much better way of handling aggression then being angry, yelling or exploding at him.

Seeing his aggression as a newly acquired expression that needs training from you rather than being angry as a first response, means that you deal with aggression in children quite differently.

More Help:
Toddler Anger -
Many parents are greatly surprised by their child's behavior when he/she displays anger. A little one's anger can seem so powerful and at times so personally directed, that it is hard not to react powerfully back. Parents can then be taken by surprise at the intensity behind their own emotions and experience considerable shame in the way they are confronted by their tot's aggression, tantrums and out right rage.

Toddler Tantrums -
Dealing with toddler temper tantrums, rage and sudden displays of anger, will be much easier for us if we disabuse ourselves of the whole idea that expressing anger is wrong.

Biting can also be a problem.
When your child bites, he is telling you in the only way he knows, that something is bothering him. It may be that he's over excited or tired, bored or frustrated, confused or hungry.
Parenting Resources - Here is a selection of parenting resources and activities for families available on the Internet. Enjoy!

Parenting Magic! - Here's a list of ingredients for creating parenting magic, for injecting fun into the constant responsibility of parenting. Great advice for parents!


Hope this helps :)

Tina - posted on 05/24/2011




I understand the struggle you are going through. I have dealt with this a few times. With my first I was so emotionally tense and was so concerned about doing the right thing that I was afraid to do anything!! I let her get away with a lot of things. I didnt want to spank ... I wanted to be all loving ... no yelling... always in a good temper to deal with anything in a sweet, gentle voice... etc.
Now on my third I have come to realize I am not perfect and never will be until i reach heaven. But in the mean time my mission God has given me is to raise these children to follow hard after God. So in saying that what does that look like. .....
If your child will not listen to you .... they will not listen to God. You are training them up to live a life in obedience to God!!!!!
We must train them that these temper tantrums are not ok. Sure yes.. they didnt sleep well, teeth coming in... I have my grumpy days and they will too. these are all legitimate things where I believe a little lenience is allowed. For God is also love and grace!! But to allow the flesh to have free reign is not ok. Just because they "feel" like doing something does not mean its ok to hurt someone else. They need to be taught to unleash their feelings in a healthy way. Crying, being sad over not getting something... I feel is ok... as its ok to have feelings. But screaming at mommy because she will not give me what I want.. is not ok... that is disrespect.
The earlier you start to "train up" the better. Its harder to reign in as they get older. while struggling with this with my first I was told that the harder I am on her now the less hard I will need to be later.
I have discovered that this is very true. I would rather be a little tougher now and be able to have a better relationship later... one filled with respect and understanding of the way things are ( and I dont mean suppressing, but healthy boundaries in which children can flourish in a safe loving environment)
We need to be consistent!!! Your girl is probably a little confused as to what you want from her. One min she is getting a time out the next who knows what. She needs to know what to expect when she does something wrong.. consistency is the key!!!
I have since changed my opinion on spanking. you can not reason with a two year old. they do not care for very long if you take something away. Spanking will become less and less the older they get. It is beginning to be replaced with consequences for actions. Already I am able to have conversation..... You did this .. you get this consequence.
My youngest is two now as well. He has started the testing too. Throwing himself on the floor, screams at me or hits. I spank when that temper flares. Always followed by a hug. He usually stops very soon after and gives me more love by hugs and kisses. Kids feel loved when you discipline. They will fight (what feels like to death) to have control. But they really dont want it. They push their boundaries with these tempers and disobedience's to see if you love them. It sounds backwards truly! But I have proven it time and time again. I even remember being a kid myself and just Having to push that boundary with my mom. but secretly inside I wanted her to stick to what she had said because I knew I was going to get myself into trouble.
I get a lot of compliments that my children are well behaved. They have a compassion for people .... sure they are still kids and test me to the max sometimes... but I believe that what I am doing is right.
In your reading of Gods word, look up obedience. You will see just how important it is to God and the amazing promises of blessing that follow after those who hear and obey God. You are already preparing them for their own relationship with God.
Just to give you an idea of what I do, do with it as you choose...
my son bites.... I bite back. How is he to know what it is like unless he experiences it.
I do put them somewhere safe (room, couch etc) if they are just really upset. its ok to be upset and to have feelings and sometimes they just need to get it out. But if they dont want to be consoled or anything and i can see they are just getting angry because I keep on trying. I will calmly put them in their room where they can just safely get it out. They are welcome to come out when they are done (because it is a safe place not a punishment). Other times I will go to them when they are sounding as though they may be done, always is it followed by loving on them.
As others have said... if they hurt someone they must say sorry. My 23 month old will rub their back as he is not very vocal yet. I even get them to hug sometimes... they are always glad to!
Dont forget God has equipped you with every thing you need to raise these children!! You will find he will even work on you in the process! Parenting is very hands on. And continuous.. you can not let anything slide just once or you will loose ground in the progress you have made. I never realized just how involved parenting was... so different from babysitting!! But Praise God He gives me wisdom and strength to handle every situation that is put before me!!
All the best!! Blessings!

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Mini - posted on 07/26/2012




thnx carla actually its true we all wanted the things to be done superfast as is our lifestyle but with children we need to be calm &have patience i'll try as you suggested &i hope it will work

Carla - posted on 07/26/2012




Hi, Mini--most people have their toddlers up, playing, watching stimulating TV shows/videos, whatever, then want them to go to sleep as soon as they put them to bed. There HAS to be a calming-down period before bedtime. When we have our grandchildren, we put Christian music on, turn TV off, turn the lights down, and just chill for a while. You can read to her, but make sure the book is something like 'The Sleep Book' or 'Goodnight Moon'. Put her in bed and sing softly to her. I know if I have a super hectic day it takes me at least an hour, if not longer, to unwind and get myself ready for sleep.

Kids need ROUTINE! Do it the same way, every night, (a) so they will know what to expect and (b) their sleep times can become adjusted.

God bless, sweetheart, consistency in every aspect of a child's life is vital!

Mini - posted on 07/25/2012




my 2.5 years old daughter sleeps late at nite.she a nap one and half hr during can i make her sleep earlier at nite(9 pm)

Rebekah - posted on 05/24/2011




Let's see you said up until she started cutting these molars she's been doing really good -- I think you found the reason on your own! :) Molars are hard to cut in. My son did VERY well teething, but when he got his molars he acted out as well, but because he was in pain. Try some popsicles and some teething soothers - see if that helps with some of the bullying. Kids usually turn to aggression when they can't express what they are feeling and pain is not always something they know how to express... maybe ask her "do your teeth hurt?" - most 2 year olds can respond to that. Try yes or no questions until you can get an answer from her about what is upsetting her.... that's usually the easiest way to teach your toddler to express how they feel.

As for the anger issue, personally, pray about it. Seriously, start speaking into her the fruits of peace and patience and love and joy... look for the verses that speak of these things and begin to pray these into your child's life.

Kids usually act out what they see too -- think about what she might be exposed to or maybe what she has seen somewhere like a park or daycare (if she's in one) or at the mall or at a friend's house, etc.

Melanie - posted on 05/23/2011




could she be bored/needs to be challenged? maybe she needs some time at a mothers morning out with others her age? maybe a mommy or daddy solo time once a day...or maybe a big girl job? so's difficult figuring these little people out!! i have 3 ages 4 1/2, 2 1/2 &'s tough. but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. be encouraged and stay're a wonderful mommy!!!

Carla - posted on 05/21/2011




#1 I remember getting my wisdom teeth. I was cranky!

#2 We went through this with our grandbabies that are 12 mos apart. Kids are terribly self-centered at this age, and any attention that they're not getting is not good attention. We had to go into hyper-vigilant mode and watch Grant like a hawk. ANYTIME he hit Faith or threw something at her he was disciplined. As he grew older, the ante upped for discipline so it wasn't real nice for him if he was mean. We also made him apologize nicely and kiss her. We would tell him his sissy loved him so much and he needed to show her love like she did him. We used every incident as a learning experience--why did you hit her? How do you think you should have handled her taking your toy (for example).

You say her vocabulary is good. Maybe sit down and ask her about her dreams. Something may be bothering her.

You have to protect the baby, but that being said, consistency is key. Back up every bad action with an immediate consequence. When Grant started lying, I had a long talk with him about lying and told him next time he lied, he'd go in time out for 4 minutes, the next time, it would be double, 8 minutes, the next time 12 minutes. He pushed me to 12, but after that, he figured it wasn't worth the sit ;) They can be very willful, but I always told the kids I could out-stubborn them.

God bless, sweetheart, parenting isn't for the faint-of-heart!

Heather - posted on 05/21/2011




I will be interested in the responses you get to this. One of my twin daughters does some of the exact same things. But just one, and none of my other children act that way.

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