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It is typical, but not altogether inevitable, that children will display aggressive behavior. Actions such as biting, punching, or hitting are usual behaviors for toddlers age two to four. This is affectionately known as the "terrible twos" and many children outgrow this stage. Parents are encouraged to understand how to manage their children while they are in this delicate period.
The most important skill parents need is patience. It is a paradox yet children will display aggressive behavior while wanting to please their parents as well. They will hit and bite but become very sullen if they are treated unkindly. Parents should not mimic their children’s behavior and start shouting back. This only leads to more aggressive behavior and has the potential to damage the child further emotionally in the future. Child psychologists recommend adopting a stern and firm stance on non-negotiables. Children have to recognize that they cannot get their way all the time. Often, it is not what is said but how it is communicated that gets a child’s attention. Parents do not have to shout, but they can adjust their tone to signify that certain behaviors are not acceptable. Punishments in the form of timeouts and taking away of certain privileges are also effective means of enforcing proper behavior.
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As mentioned, children outgrow these aggressive behaviors by the time they are five. This is the age where they are better able to communicate with their parents. If a child displays aggressive behavior past the age of six, and particularly if the behavior becomes increasingly violent, parents should consider taking him or her to a child psychologist.
Dr. Jonathan Lauter is a recognized child and adolescent psychologist. His compassionate attention to detail has helped hundreds of children and teenagers live better, healthier lives. For more guides such as this, follow this Twitter account.