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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Preventing or Reducing a Child's Aggressive Behavior

The child who frequently hits, slaps, and bites other children or destroys their toys is not going through a stage. He is exhibiting an aggressive behavior that is upsetting to parents and other children. Aggressive behavior includes intentionally breaking things; pushing, kicking, or hitting other children; and verbally abusing playmates with threats of violence, excessive name calling, and age-inappropriate swearing.

The following suggestions will help you prevent or reduce aggressive behavior in your child.

  1. Keep your child away from people or playmates who act aggressive.

  2. Do not roughhouse with an aggressive child. To do so only serves to encourage aggressive behavior.

  3. Begin by helping an aggressive child to behave well in situations where he normally does not act aggressively. Later, you can work more directly on the aggressive behavior itself.

  4. Steer clear of all forms of physical punishment. Spanking and hitting can teach a child to spank and hit others.

  5. Refrain from all forms of verbal abuse.

  6. Make sure that each day you give your child at least 50 brief physical touches.

A child's aggressive behavior is much easier to prevent than it is to eliminate. The less aggressive behavior a child is exposed to, the less likely he is to act aggressively toward others.

Written by E. Christophersen, Ph.D., author of "Little People: Guidelines for Commonsense Child Rearing."
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems