The Power of Parenting

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Aggression in Young Children

Monday, October 05, 2020
Invest in Kids and The Canadian Council on Learning Create New Resource to Help Parents Understand and Cope

(Toronto, October 5, 2020) An infant thrashing and howling, a toddler snatching a playmate’s toy or a preschooler angrily taunting another child – these experiences can be confusing or upsetting for parents, but are often a normal part of the development process for children of a certain temperament. How a parent deals with aggressive behaviour in infants, toddlers and preschoolers, however, can greatly impact a child’s future development and behaviour.

Invest in Kids, a national charity dedicated to transforming the way Canadian parents are educated and supported, and The Canadian Council on Learning’s Early Childhood Learning Knowledge Centre have partnered to create a valuable new resource for parents dealing with aggressive behaviour in their young child. These three downloadable information cards use the latest research and the principles of Comfort, Play & Teach®, to provide parents with information to help them better understand and deal with aggression effectively.

Comfort, Play & Teach is Invest in Kids’ research-informed parenting approach to support healthy child development. These three parenting actions work together to generate responses from children that transform everyday interactions from the ordinary to the extraordinary.  Comfort, Play & Teach builds parenting confidence, strengthens the parent-child bond, enriches the moment for the child and parent, and, ultimately, opens a world of possibilities for them both.

“Aggression in young children is fairly common,” says Dr. Carol Crill Russell, who was a member of the team that created the aggression resource cards, “and parents often don’t know what to do, so they punish the child or laugh at the behaviour. Sometimes they even pretend it’s not happening and hope that it will just stop. These materials give parents concrete ways to deal with the situation that will help support their child appropriately.”

When babies are aggressive it can be due to pain or discomfort or because they have discovered that aggression is an effective way to get what they want – he does not know better and is trying to communicate. For toddlers, aggression is normal and driven by impulse. Learning to control their emotions is a challenge at this stage, when tantrums become common and toddlers can learn to use aggression to gain attention.

By preschool age aggressive behaviour tends to have slowed because the parts of a child’s brain that control aggression are better developed. However, because preschoolers are bigger and stronger, they are capable of more harm when they do get rough. Preschoolers test their growing independence with strong opinions and to get their way they negotiate with friends, parents and caregivers.

For each stage, there are ways to help manage these behaviours. Here are just a few of the tips for parents that can be found on the aggression cards.

For Babies:

Comfort - Your crying baby is telling you something and it is important for you to respond. When you do, your baby will learn to trust you and other adults and know that you will respond consistently and sensitively when he is uncomfortable or upset.

For Toddlers:

Play - Have play dates with other children on a consistent basis and be present so you can help your child deal more positively with any frustrating experiences that might lead to aggressive behaviour.

For Preschoolers:

Teach - If your child hurts someone, include her in treating the hurt child. This helps her to develop empathy for others and understand the pain her actions can cause.

For more information and to access all three Aggression resources visit

About Invest in Kids
At Invest in Kids our mission is to transform the way Canadian parents are educated and supported. Our vision is a country where all parents are the parents they dream of being, all children reach their full potential and parents and children are valued and supported in the communities in which they live and work.

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Media contact:  1-877-583-5437 or (416) 977-1222

Krista Lamb ext. 224            
Manager, Media Relations and Publicity
Invest in Kids
[email protected]