Little Ones Have Big Feelings

Help! My 5 year old seems to be out of control these days. He throws toys, he’s very physical with me and our nanny,  hitting us (and friends) as hard as can.
He’ll be sweet one minute, but when when asked to do something he doesn’t like, he’ll begin a hitting tantrum. I’m worried he will hurt his 23 month old younger sister. I feel like I’ve tried everything. What can I do?
-Tired of Tantrums

Dear Tired,

Aggressive behavior in children can be very upsetting for the adults in their lives. I’m sure this is a tough situation for all involved and this little guy clearly could use some help with big feelings.

First, it’s important to understand that children don’t want to attack other people. I’m sure your son would much rather have fun and feel safe and loved. Kids get along well with others when they are able to feel a loving connection to the caregivers in their lives.

Unfortunately, a child’s sense of the connection that they need can be very fragile. Children may not always be able to tell that they are loved, respected and safe. When their sense of safe connection breaks, kids  feel tense, frightened, or isolated. Not feeling connected to an adult who has ‘got your back’ is very upsetting to a child. It causes them to lose touch with their good thinking. In this “emotional emergency,” they may lash out at other children or adults. But it’s very important to understand that children don’t intend to be harmful. In fact, acts of aggression like this are beyond the child’s ability to control themselves. They need an adult to help them.

This “Helping Children with Aggression” article will give you some practical steps to take to stop the hurtful behavior and listen to the feelings behind the aggression so you can both move on to having a better, closer, day.

You might also be interesting in a second article called “Handling Children’s Feelings in Public Places” that talks more about using this connecting approach with children to get ahead of feelings that may cause aggression later. We have a full set of booklets that go in depth about your child’s feelings and how to use tools like Special Time and Staylistening to help you and your son turn the tantrums into moments of connection. We also invite you to sign up for our free teleseminar this month  “No More Hitting!”

We’ll be thinking of you and your little guy. Let us know how it goes,

Julianne Idleman

One thought on “Little Ones Have Big Feelings

  1. Top Parenting Posts of 2011 | Super-protective Factor

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