What to do:
Self-talk. Say to yourself, "This aggressive behavior is frustrating and upsetting me because of what I think about it. I need to change my negative self-talk from "It's terrible!", to positive self-talk of "I can deal with this." I don't want my child to hurt someone, but I can handle this if I keep my cool."
Empathy. Ask yourself, "How would I feel if I was upset and mad but didn't know how to show it without hurting someone?" I understand how my child feels. I get mad, too."
Teach. Tell yourself, "I can help my child learn how to have self-control when he's upset; express his anger and frustration; and get what he wants without hurting someone.
Take to Calm Time. It's important to stop the aggression immediately by taking your child out of the situation for a period of time to calm down, so she can think. She can return to play when calm. If you see or hear of your child biting or hitting, take her to Calm Time for a few minutes (1 minute for each year of age is recommended). Calmly tell her to think about ways to get what she wants without hurting someone that will make the other person want to cooperate with her. Then, when Calm Time is over, talk about what she could do to tell someone she's angry without hurting him. Be sure to give hugs to let her know that it was the hitting or biting that you didn't like-you always love her
How to Compromise. Help your older child learn to resolve wars peacefully. When you hear him threatening to hit his friend for taking his basketball, say, "Let's think about what else you could do when your friend takes your ball and you want it back. You could ask me to use my phone timer, so you and your friend can time how long each of you plays with the ball. Let the phone timer tell you when it's time to take turns. That way, both of you get to play with it and have fun."
Use Reprimand and Grandma's Rule to Teach How to Apologize. Say, "Hitting hurts. We don't hit people. When you're mad, tell someone you're angry and walk away, or ask an adult to help solve the problem between you and someone else." Learning to apologize reduces the need for aggression and encourages getting along with others. Tell your child, "When you have told your friend that you are sorry you hit him, then you may go back to play."
Praise Getting Along. Saying, "Thank you for playing so nicely together," from time to time while children are playing reminds them that getting along is important.
Teach Empathy. Make understanding the feelings of others part of your everyday conversations with your child. When your child bites, hits or is aggressive toward another child, calmly and lovingly ask how he would you feel if someone bit him. Then talk about his feelings. Tell him, "We don't want to hurt another person, so we don't bite them, even if we are mad. When we are mad, it's important to say how we feel and figure out how to get what we want by being patient. Suggest counting to 5 before reacting when someone makes him mad. If your child has trouble stopping himself from hurting others when he's mad, tell his healthcare provider. He may need special help to stop this behavior before it gets more upsetting for him and for those around him.
Teach Your Child Positive Self-Talk. When your child is upset, help him see that it is the messages that we say to ourselves that create feelings of anger and frustration. Say, "When you are mad at your friend, Shawna, think about what you are saying to yourself about Shawna. Are you mad because she has a friend at lunch that is not your friend?" When we say that a situation is "terrible" or "awful" or that "we cannot stand it", that makes us feel upset and out of control. Instead, say, "It's not big deal. I know that Shawna has other friends besides me. I am glad that she is my friend, too." That change in self-talk changes the way your child will feel and behave! Make it a habit to talk about self-talk-negative and positive-as a regular part of your relationship with your child.
What not to do:
Don't Hit, Spank or Bite. No matter how tempting it is to spank a child or bite him back to "smack some sense into him" or "teach him a lesson," resist the urge. Although you may be angry and scared when your child hits, spits, scratches, pinches, slaps, pushes or bites someone, doing that to him sends him a mixed message: It's okay for me to be a bully and hit you, but not for you to hit me or anyone else. Studies have also shown that 3 year olds who are spanked twice a month will be almost 50 percent more aggressive than non-spanked children by age 5.
Don't Threaten. Threatening to hit, spank, slap or bite your child only teaches him to fear your presence but doesn't teach him what you want him to learn-how to get along with others, even when he's mad.