Taming Aggression In Your Preschool-Aged Child

The first five years of life are marked with change. Starting preschool adds a new social environment that brings some added challenges for some children. If your child has been showing signs of aggression and anger at preschool, you'll need to do some positive intervention to help get to the bottom of the emotions that are driving these behaviors. Helping a child to redirect anger toward healthy expression can be difficult, but it will help them to learn and succeed with their peers at preschool.

1. Built a greater connection with your child.

Some children experience feelings of anger because they are not experiencing the security that comes from a connected, loving parent relationship. Quality time and emotional expression at home can help to build this connection so that you child feels more at peace with his or her life. Consider:

  • spending one-on-one time with your child each day. Read a story together before bed, and have a meaningful conversation that is directed by the child. Parents should ask questions that explore emotions in a peaceful setting, such as "Why do you like this book more than your other books?" or "What is the best part about going outside?" These explorations into your child's world will help them to feel closer to you, especially if you give them undivided attention. 
  • trying to be with your child when he or she struggles with angry, sad, or jealous feelings. Remaining close to your child to offer support during painful situations helps them to feel loved and trusted, and will teach them that these emotions are not something to be afraid or ashamed of. Refrain from punishing a child for feeling angry or sad. 
  • laughing with your child. Laughter helps to break down barriers and fosters feelings of closeness. Be silly with your child, and encourage them to laugh and play when they are feeling frustrated. They will learn that being positive can often help bad feelings to go away.

2. Prepare them for preschool.

Aggression in children can often be a sign that they feel threatened or uncomfortable. If children are not used to structure or intense social interaction, preschool could be overwhelming for them. To deal with the feelings, kids may lash out at others by hitting or yelling. If your child has an increase in aggression during class time, you can assume that part of the reason is because they don't feel comfortable there or that there is another emotional need that is not being met. Help prepare your child for the preschool environment by:

  • taking him or her to the classroom before the start of the class. Tour the room with your child and have him or her meet the teachers and talk with them.
  • volunteer at the preschool so that your familiar presence can be part of your child's experience.
  • reviewing social rules, like sharing and taking turns. These are hard for a child, and he or she will become frustrated at consistent failure. Use positive reinforcement to encourage sharing, especially when your child does it voluntarily.

3. Teach your child good outlets.

Helping your child to recognize anger and how to deal with it is key to improvement. When your child is showing signs of angry feelings, label them by saying, "I can see that you are feeling angry." This validates the emotion, and helps your child to become emotionally intelligent about his or her feelings. Then, teach your child outlets for aggression that will work during preschool hours, like:

  • throwing a ball
  • counting out loud
  • breathing deeply
  • coloring or painting a picture
  • talking to somebody
  • knocking down block towers
  • organizing beads

Let your child pick out anger alternatives, and encourage them to use the strategy at home. Tell the preschool teacher what your child has chosen, so that they can also help with the solution.

Aggression is normal for some children during periods of emotional and physical change. Choosing the right school (places like Miniapple International Montessori School), as well as improving your child's emotional intelligence, will help to reduce incidences of anger in your child.