Aggression is fairly common in young toddlers and preschoolers. Some children are aggressive because they have not been taught non-aggressive ways to get their own way. Others do it because they want to be independent or because they have not learned to share. Young children may bite, hit, push or fight in some other way.
Although aggressive behaviour is disturbing for parents, it usually starts to decrease by the age of three. At this age, children have better control over their feelings, and have learned to put what they're wanting into words.
Here are some other reasons why children may show frequent aggressive behaviour:
- A child who is regularly exposed to family arguments may come to think aggression is an appropriate way to respond.
- Frequent or severe punishment is likely to increase a child's aggression.
- If aggression is rewarded by giving the child her own way, she can learn that aggressive behaviour works to her advantage.
- A child who isn't receiving enough attention or whose emotional needs are not looked after is less likely to care about the feelings of others, and be more prone to aggressive behaviour.
If your child is three years old and still hasn't learned to control his aggression, or doesn't seem to care about the feelings of others, it is time to seek additional help. It is also time to seek help if the quality of your family life is really suffering. Consult your child's doctor for an appropriate referral. If you are in Canada, and you wish to speak to a counsellor about this, contact Parent Help Line, 1-888-603-9100.