Do your children bite, hit you? Then I advise you to learn about reasons for anger in early childhood and anger management strategies.
1. A child imitates aggressive behavior in the family, even if his parents do not fight, do not ever beat him, do not yell at each other. But it turns out that it is not necessary to yell and beat for the child to perceive parental behavior as an aggressive and authoritarian one.
If everything in the family is based on the principle of the parents’ authoritarian dominating, if they decide what to do and how to behave, and even punish disobedience, the child then will have a permanent soreness, anger at both parents or at one of them. And so every prohibition will cause a storm of protest, and even a physical aggression attempts in children. After all children have only emotions from birth, and they learn how to manage them watching their parents’ behavior. If the parents are constantly dissatisfied with the child’s behavior, they admonish and correct him; if his actions and excessive noise cause constant irritation, parents suppress this “inconvenient” behavior with punishment and not always a physical one.
They can ask him to leave the room, blackmail emotionally (“if you do not stop, I will not love you any more“), intimidate him (“I will take you to the orphanage“), shout or disregard indifferently – all these are the same punishment. And then the child learns well that he needs to use power to get what he wants. “After all, parents get everything with their power and the authoritarian obtrusion of the” right “behavior, so I will do the same.” But the child doesn’t yet impact his parents so much. He acts the way he can: fights and bites.
What to do?
To eradicate the “authoritarian style of government” in the family. But it can be done provided that both parents clearly understand the results of such parenting and really want to change the situation.
2. Aggression as a kind of love manifestation.
Sometimes a child has a habit to bite and it is indirectly the parents’ fault. While playing with the baby and gently biting his fingers, heels, they show him that the bite is a tool to express love, and later on the child will bite parents and other children, even when experiencing positive emotions. Or parents pat on the child’s bottom easily, just for fun.
It turns out that our children often get an example of such behavior from us, parents!
What to do?
Show the child an alternative. Teach him about the words and gestures to express feelings. Help him learn how to express love but not to imprint teeth into your skin: “Do not bite … It hurts me!” Show your child an example of alternative communicative gestures: “Hug Daddy … Kiss Mom’s cheek! … Stroke your brother, look how good he is!”
3. Aggression as an expression of curiosity.
Bites and pats during a game are a kind of communication means. Most activities are centered around the child’s hands and mouth, and it is quite normal for him to use these parts of the body as communication tools. The child likes to experiment when biting and beating various surfaces in order to find out what feelings he will experience as well as to see the parents’ reaction.
What to do?
It is important to let the child feel that it hurts when he bites. Tell him about that. If he will not believe your words, here’s a technology successfully used by parents: press the child’s hand to his upper teeth as if he is biting himself, but do not do this aggressively. Comment the teeth marks on his own hand: “See, when you bite it hurts!” Teach him this lesson right after your child has bitten someone, for him to associate bite with pain.
And one more effective method: “Sit and calm down”
This simple punishment impacts most children greatly. It is not necessary to look strictly or angrily – you will thus only reduce the teaching value of this punishment. The child must understand that if he performs a prohibited action, his whole activity will be stopped then. Depending on the child’s age and character, a one or five minute’s break, during which he will sit on a chair, is everything needed. If the child can’t do this quietly, you can sit by his side to control him. In any case, sitting together for a while is probably exactly what you both need. Maybe you will even be able to make the child express his feelings with words, or you can do this instead of him.
4. Aggression as the way of attracting attention.
Children, who often bite and fight, become usually the center of attention: “Caution, he is biting!” I’ve seen many such examples: a mother screams, everyone around looks at the kid, many people are even touched: “oh, look, what a cute nipper!” Of course, the child will do this over and over again.
What to do?
If you find out that the child bites to draw your attention, show him more acceptable ways of doing this. Praise his good behavior and reduce the value of bites.
5. Aggression as a manifestation of fatigue.
Such behavior can be caused, for example, by lots of children in a small space, as well as by fatigue at the end of the day. Look at the situation through the eyes of your child to understand why he bites or fights. Maybe he’s tired, bored, hungry, or an atmosphere is the reason for irritation outburst.
What to do?
Soften the game. If you notice that your child becomes angry, set an example of soft actions and games such as “hug Teddy Bear, pat the kitty, and show the doll how much you love her“. While playing, the child is constantly knocking the toys, making car collisions and beating the dolls against each other – these are a sign of increasing anger in the child. Although it is a normal game, it is important to maintain a balance of aggressive play and soft play.
Another parent’s reaction algorithm to the child’s aggression
1. First you need to stop the tantrum. Hug your little one tight (hug but do not grab or twist him). There shouldn’t be reciprocal aggression in your actions.
2. Then you need eye contact. You should look right into the child’s eyes if possible. While keeping bodily contact, you should, depending on the child’s age, find the right words to soothe him. For a baby: “You feel bad! Calm down!” For older children you need to identify the feelings the child is experiencing and the reason of them: “You feel hurt that you need to collect toys, and you want to play more.” Or: “You’re very angry at me because I ‘m taking you to the kindergarten, and you do not want to go there at all.” If you are hurt when bitten or hit, you should say about your feelings this way: “It hurts! I am very angry when I bitten.”
3. You shouldn’t behave ordinarily and yell, punish, or command strictly: “Stop it now!” or “You must not do it!” even if you want it very much. You need to understand that the child is experiencing very strong anger this time. And more likely he isn’t able to realize the consequences of his actions. Moreover, when any person is ordered or punished at a time when he is angry, these actions will provoke more tantrums. Therefore, you will only exacerbate these tantrums but not liquidate them. It is possible to stop the tantrum, but the emotion will not disappear and will look for a way out.
4. When talking to the child, you need to necessarily speak affirmatively and define his emotional state. This is necessary to let him know that you understand his feelings because any tantrum is used to demonstrate a feeling. And if you have understood and defined it, the goal is thus achieved and it becomes meaningless to keep on being angry. And your intonation should be as neutral as possible.
5. If you child’s behavior has hurt you, then you should say about it using “I” statements. This is a sentence where only pronouns “I” and “me” are used, and there is no place for “you” and “your”. And it is better to comment the child’s action impersonally. That is, don’t say: “Do not bite, how many times to tell you!” but “I do not like when I am beaten.” Not: “I feel irritated when you bite, do not do that!” but “I am very unhappy when children bite.” There’s no blame in such a statement as in “You” statements. “I” statements do not make the child defend himself against attacks and help the child calm down. The child should be told how to behave afterwards, when emotions have subsided. The child then will be able to hear you.
6. Regular prevention of such tantrums. Since anger is a natural emotion that appears even in the quietest children, you should play the following games until the child learns to express their dissatisfaction calmly. The main goal of the games is to remove emotional intensity that could accumulate in your little one.
Examples of games
Games where movements coincide with the real attacks are the best for the little beaters.
1. Pillow or balloons fight.
2. Knock-out carpet cleaning with a tennis racket and ritual exiling microbes out of there and accompanied by Warriors shout.
3. Competition on paper tearing into pieces and then throw these pieces into each other.
4. Kicking or throwing a ball. A space safe for the others is needed where the kid could freely throw the ball.
Games where anger is manifested with teeth are for the nippers.
1. Playing zoo with grinning and snarling animals. It is necessary how tigers, lions, wolves, bears, etc. are angry but it is necessary to grin and roar.
2. Buy a long loaf of baguette and play who bites off more pieces of it.
3. Teethers can be used for very young kids.
Remember that you should take an active part playing all the games together with your child. The best time to play is when he doesn’t yet try to really show his anger.
And remember: if the child fights or bites too often and tries to make his every attack even more painful, and none of your efforts helps, you should visit a family psychologist. Professional help is needed very rarely, but if it is still needed, it is better than to solve the problem by yourself.