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Children and Aggressive Outbursts

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 13 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Development aggressive Behaviour

Children tend to show natural aggression beginning around their second birthday. The “terrible twos” are brewing at this point and children have developed to the point where not only do they know that they are independent individuals but they can walk themselves and talk themselves to wherever they please. While they are thus exploring the world children come to realise that they can exert some control over their surroundings and often engage in aggressive outbursts if they are denied this control. Children then engage in aggressive outbursts when they feel out of control, frustrated or desire attention. In lieu of expressing their feelings verbally, children often turn to kicking, hitting, biting, screaming and throwing things to make their emotions known.

Variables Influencing Aggressive Outbursts
No two children will engage in aggressive outbursts in exactly the same way and there are several factors that influence these episodes. For example, boys tend to have more natural aggression and aggressive outbursts than girls. Age also influences aggressive outbursts in that during infancy these behaviours – crying, kicking out, etc. – are defensive and used in order to gain attention to fulfil a need, but during the toddler years these behaviours become overtly aggressive and are used to manipulate a situation or react to an unsatisfactory outcome. By school age, these behaviours tend to become reactionary and often result from a perceived slight or insult.

Avoiding Aggressive Outbursts
Most young children have aggressive outbursts when they are frustrated. These children have yet to develop the language skills or vocabulary that they need to talk through their emotions, but they also may lack the ability to see the world through other’s eyes. This means that children are necessarily “short sighted” and often unable to see the bigger picture surrounding certain actions or events which might better explain the situations that are frustrating them. Parents can try to avoid aggressive outbursts by lowering frustrations and making sure that their children always feel in control of something. Watching children to ensure that they don’t become overly hungry or tired, offering children limited choices in most matters and avoiding people or places that make children feel distinctly uncomfortable are all ways that parents can help their children avoiding having aggressive outbursts.

Coping with Aggressive Outbursts
Unfortunately, not all aggressive outbursts can be avoided but parents do have choices in how they react to and cope with these events. Many parents choose to:
  • Ignore aggressive behaviours that can be tolerated. Denying a child the attention that (s)he craves often helps defuse aggression.
  • Channel the child’s energy. A child with the energy to kick at others has the energy to kick a football instead.
  • Show affection. Many times a child acts aggressively if (s)he is feeling hurt and a hug can be very soothing.
  • Talk with the child. Often if a child understands a whole situation they are less likely to become frustrated and act aggressively.
  • Removing a child from the trigger. Particularly if a child is becoming a danger to him/herself or others, picking them up and taking them to another location may be best.
Children and aggressive outbursts tend to go hand-in-hand. Usually children engage in aggressive behaviours because they are frustrated, feeling out of control or want attention. There is much that parents can do to avoid these outbursts, and many options to choose from in how they cope with aggressive outbursts when they do occur. Though some aggressive outbursts are normal, if a child seems frequently and inappropriately angry parents should consider consulting a GP or child development expert for more information and advice specific to their child.

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My son is 5 hes aggressive is bad he hits hes sister who is 3 and when he is at school always lunch time he is lashing out he hits children he is so angry and he is such a lovely boy he is showing signs of adhd and I was told if he had that he would be like it all the time I was told that not a fact
kerrie - 13-Jun-17 @ 2:42 PM
Hi! Good day! I will ask a question. What kind of behavior the children and aggressive outburst?
timay - 31-May-17 @ 2:59 PM
worriedauntie - Your Question:
Hello, I have a nephew who has a heart of gold, is very loving and extremely clever in school. However, when he gets out of school with his parents its a different story. He constantly tells his mum, that he hates her and the house is a better place without her, he lashes out in aggression and always hits her. He has had sleeping issues for years now, constantly scared something will happen to him during the night, no matter how many times he has been reassured he is safe. He has huge issues about going to bed and trying to get him upstairs is a nightmare in itself. Somebody has to sit in his room for him to fall asleep for hours on end, but he always gets in bed with his mum and dad around 4am. He has big concerns about our family not loving him and people being disappointed in him. His father had childhood issues, and now because of that suffers with depression. But is a wonderful and very loving father. These issues with my nephew are breaking up the family and causing lots of hurt to everybody involved, as we all feel helpless. He has been tested by three different doctors for ADHD and he has been fine every time. Please does anybody have any advice on how we go about helping his behaviour issues?

Our Response:
It might be worth seeking help from a behaviour therapist or counsellor, they will be able to advise any therapies etc that might help.
KidsBehaviour - 4-May-17 @ 12:39 PM
Hello, I have a nephew who has a heart of gold, is very loving and extremely clever in school. However, when he gets out of school with his parents its a different story. He constantly tells his mum, that he hates her and the house is a better place without her, he lashes out in aggression and always hits her. He has had sleeping issues for years now, constantly scared something will happen to him during the night, no matter how many times he has been reassured he is safe. He has huge issues about going to bed and trying to get him upstairs is a nightmare in itself. Somebody has to sit in his room for him to fall asleep for hours on end, but he always gets in bed with his mum and dad around 4am. He has big concerns about our family not loving him and people being disappointed in him. His father had childhood issues, and now because of that suffers with depression. But is a wonderful and very loving father. These issues with my nephew are breaking up the family and causing lots of hurt to everybody involved, as we all feel helpless. He has been tested by three different doctors for ADHD and he has been fine every time. Please does anybody have any advice on how we go about helping his behaviour issues?
worriedauntie - 3-May-17 @ 3:35 PM
hi i really need advice/help please. my son has recently turned 8 he has been struggling with processing his emotions in the right manner for a while however the passed couple of weeks it has declined. hes been lashing out at school and punching and kicking chairs. one minute he is ok and saying i love you next minute he talking with attitude and speaking out of turn. me and his father split up just before his 4th birthday this has a massive impact. my son went along time without seeing his father and cried frequently a few weeks ago his father came back into his left but left again without any warning now my son seems angry most days which is effecting him at school. i have ordered a figit toy today and a stress ball to somewaytry and help when he is feeling like this not sure if it will work or not? any advice would be greatly appreciated
daf2712 - 15-Jan-17 @ 9:31 PM
My 7 year old son does not stop he's always hitting me throwing things at me and saying he hates me, it gets me so dwn because everything I do is to please him or make him happy. Hisdad has personality disorder and is a manic depressive and also his nan has bipolar he loves his dad way more than me and always wants to be wuth his dad. I worry he may have some behavior problems or other problems that are heredity but he us very clever at school and very forward in life, he's always tormenting his older brothers and sisters although they could have mire patience with him he is really naughty and violent toward them I dnt know what to do.
stressedmom - 25-Oct-16 @ 2:08 PM
Hi, I have an 8 year old grandson who is on the lowest point of the autism spectrum and obviously needs a little extra attention. He is extremely bright, loving and getting wonderful support from family and his school. My other grandson (at the same school) is 6 and has gradually started to have violent episodes at school. His outburst vary from saying horrible things to teachers and other pupils to hitting and even saying he wanted to kill someone. My son and his wife are apart and going through a divorce and d both he and his ex wife have other partners. We don't know what to do and any advice would be very welcome....
Tweetie - 22-Oct-16 @ 6:50 AM
Hi my 7yr old son has gotten to the point where I can't control him, everything I say or do is wrong. He's so affectionate and got a heart of gold but most of the time I'm actually scared to say or do anything because I know it's going to trigger a day and a half tantrum, apparently I'm not his boss, I can't tell him what to do, I'm going out my mind with frustration. I can't change plans or upset our usual routine, I can't say no to anything or its mayhem and the sleeping just feels like it never happens, I have to sit in his room from 8 o'clock at night to at least midnight or after waiting for him to settle, if I leave the room he just won't sleep. I feel as if I've failed somehow and I don't know what to do anymore ??
Natalie - 27-Sep-16 @ 12:42 PM
hello. I am a working mom and most of time I left my children ages 2 (boy) and 1 (girl) to my father and grandmother. When I got home, they kept complaining about my girl hitting and biting by his brother. What will I do with this kind of situation? I only have longer time with them during weekends.Please help. Thank you
yan - 3-Aug-16 @ 5:43 AM
Hi 7 yr old girl . Aggressive horrible mouth on her . She gets me so wound up that I shout at her . And can never get her to realize the truth . I am always wrong . I am always there to help but she hates me I never help her., she is soo wrong . I drive her to her clubs . Always nasty to me and never complains to her father .that doesn't drive doesn't help when tantrums start and he is a very quiet person.I am the worst mum ever. Really upsets me . What can I do to stop these outbursts. What can I say that will make her think o ye mum is right.
beth - 21-Jun-16 @ 11:38 PM
Leona - Your Question:
Hi my 4year old son keeps hitting me and his dad and his brother and sister his brother is nearly 2years old and his sister is 10years old every time he hits one of us I take him to his room and explain that what he is doing is not very kind and tell him he needs to stay in his room till I tell him to come down and say he is sorry for what he had done and then it's back to square one with his hitting I just don't know what to do

Our Response:
Have you tried an alternative consequence? If he has a bedroom full of toys, books and a comfy bed to lie on, maybe he doesn't view this as a bad thing? Have you examined the reason why he's hitting everyone? Has he seen this in films? In the home or at nursery? Is this something you can talk to him about as he's four? Perhaps if the person he's hit lets him see that they are distressed by this will make him realise that it has an impact on their feelings etc. You could also try an alternative set of consequences, such as "no you cannot go out to play with the others because you have been hitting person X" etc. Ask for help from a professional if it gets worse.
KidsBehaviour - 15-Jun-16 @ 11:59 AM
Hi my 4year old son keeps hitting me and his dad and his brother and sister his brother is nearly 2years old and his sister is 10years old every time he hits one of us I take him to his room and explain that what he is doing is not very kind and tell him he needs to stay in his room till I tell him to come down and say he is sorry for what he had done and then it's back to square one with his hitting I just don't know what to do
Leona - 13-Jun-16 @ 5:46 PM
My grandson is a little younger he just turned one year old. He doesn't kick or punch me, my daughter his mom or son in law his dad. He's paralysed waist down which I'm going to be honest about, it has its own problems. Spina bifida. His name is Noah. Noah Lee.
Fran - 4-Jun-16 @ 8:28 PM
Hi my 3 year old is the most loving and affectionate child but has severe anger issues he uses me as a punching bag his tantrums are triggered by anything if he asks for something g and I say yes and get it he kicks of if o say ok come and get it with me he kicks of no matter what the answer I've tried putting him to bed no telly and everything out hus room I've tried ignoring him and putting him in a time out it is really upsetting me as he is such a loving child at the same time but has the strength of a 15 year old
Laura.w - 11-May-16 @ 11:06 AM
I work with kids and one in particular has horrible anger problem and is under the age of 4.... Family going through separation and totally different from one another in discipline. I just want to understand better on how to handle the emotional and aggressiveness the child has.
Jj - 8-May-16 @ 1:03 AM
Nannybear - Your Question:
My granddaughter who has lived with me for the last twelve months,we get spells in school like every 4 to five weeks where she is either scratching biting or kicking another child,and I don't why it usually lasts for about a week,her behaviour changes at home as well,

Our Response:
How old is your granddaughter? If this behaviour is cyclical and she's over 9 it could be hormonal? This does sound more like the behaviour of a younger child though. It might be worth checking to see if something else is happening in her life during these times as her behaviour might be like this a lot more frequently if it was some kind of behaviour disorder.
KidsBehaviour - 29-Apr-16 @ 2:25 PM
Hi Our 4 year old son is under ADOS for assesment. He scored on the assesment but not enough to be diagnosed with ASD. All we was told is that he seems to have sensory issues but received no information on how to help him. He lashes out at his little brother all the time to the point where he actually hurts him, when we try to talk to him he just looks through us. Can anyone offer any help or advice for what we can do please? Thanks
Check89 - 29-Apr-16 @ 11:42 AM
My granddaughter who has lived with me for the last twelve months,we get spells in school like every 4 to five weeks where she is either scratching biting or kicking another child,and I don't why it usually lasts for about a week,her behaviour changes at home as well,
Nannybear - 28-Apr-16 @ 11:38 AM
i have 11 yrs old boy his so aggresive and sometimes violent he start like this since he was been bullied at school this year 7 and now he looklikeim his no.enemy he dnt wnt to be told to do this and always argument in the morning especially goin to school.i need help for this as im nearly ask the social service to take him maybe thats the only option he will changed.
shane - 21-Apr-16 @ 11:22 PM
jj - Your Question:
Hi I have a 3 year old boy who is the most loveliest wee man well he was until a few weeks ago he was so sweet had manners would be nice to everyone and now just in the last few weeks he has been hitting my friends kid's who are around the same age and who he has grown up with. And not just a push or little hit he will find something for example the other day my friend was over with her two kids the 4 yo girl was sitting on the step next thing my son walks up to her with a piece of wood and wacks it on the top of her head she was doing nothing to him and he just lashed out he has done this a few times I took him away for time out for a few minutes while I talked to the one who got hurt then he came out crying I told him that it wasn't nice and he said sorry but then he would just do it over and over. I give him loads of attention he has a younger brother 7 months old and my brother in law who we just recently took in who is 14 I thought this may have something to do with it but he is lovely to him. Its getting so embarrassing and I don't know why he is doing it and how to stop it. Just want my little angel back :( help

Our Response:
Has he been exposed to any violent films or games etc since the 14 year old moved in? That's one possibility. At 3 years old he's should be able to understand that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable. Does he go to nursery? Do they have any suggestions? We hope some of our readers can help with their own experiences here.
KidsBehaviour - 13-Apr-16 @ 2:36 PM
Hi I have a 3 year old boy who is the most loveliest wee man well he was until a few weeks ago he was so sweet had manners would be nice to everyone and now just in the last few weeks he has been hitting my friends kid's who are around the same age and who he has grown up with. And not just a push or little hit he will find something for example the other day my friend was over with her two kids the 4 yo girl was sitting on the step next thing my son walks up to her with a piece of wood and wacks it on the top of her head she was doing nothing to him and he just lashed out he has done this a few times I took him away for time out for a few minutes while I talked to the one who got hurt then he came out crying I told him that it wasn't nice and he said sorry but then he would just do it over and over . I give him loads of attention he has a younger brother 7 months old and my brother in law who we just recently took in who is 14 I thought this may have something to do with it but he is lovely to him. Its getting so embarrassing and I don't know why he is doing it and how to stop it . Just want my little angel back :( help
jj - 12-Apr-16 @ 12:18 PM
ganny jo - Your Question:
My grandson is 6, a couple of months ago school informed his mum my daughter, that he has been having a bad time in class and is demonstrating aggressive out bursts and wanting to contol situation when he is feeling angry he's hiding under tables, leaving the room, throwing things arround, hitting out and shouting. This apparently started last September after returning form school summer holiday moving into his new class this then has escalated to out of control. He can be calm, helpful, well mannered and cooperative, then just changes seemingly for no apparent reason. Other children have acted this way too in class and the teacher is at a loss how to deal with this behavior. I have sat in class for a morning and managed to get him doing some writing he also has a teaching assistant sat with him one to one though there has been some improvement he is still pushing the boundaries daily. How is the best way to turn this arround and get him settled and happy any idears welcome ?There are some other children he seem to seek out to be partners in crime and some whom lets say I caught one trying to stand on his feet while he was sat quite on the carpet, im just told they're all as bad as one another. I wonder is this what's bothering him.his education is now being effected,

Our Response:
Firstly if many of the other children are behaving in the same way, there may be an issue with the teaching and the school management team should step in to help. If it's just your grandson and a couple of others, you should ask the teacher what's changed in terms of the work and the approach to teaching. The difference from reception into year 1 and then year 2 can be quite a challenge for some children. If he's struggling with anything academically, ask the school if they can pinpoint it and suggest methods for helping him. It does sound from his behaviour that he is finding the environment and/or the work challenging and is reacting from frustration, rather than an inherent behaviour problem. If one to one work with a teaching assistant has improved things, then persisting with this and giving him lots of encouragement may also help eventually.
KidsBehaviour - 1-Apr-16 @ 12:26 PM
My grandson is 6,a couple of months ago school informed his mum my daughter,that he has been having a bad time in class and is demonstrating aggressive out bursts and wanting to contol situation when he is feeling angry he's hiding under tables,leaving the room,throwing things arround,hitting out and shouting. This apparentlystarted last September after returning form school summer holiday moving into his new class this then has escalated to out of control. He can be calm, helpful, well mannered and cooperative,then just changes seemingly for no apparent reason. Other children have acted this way too in class and the teacher is at a loss how to deal with this behavior. I have sat in class for a morning and managed to get him doing some writing he also has a teaching assistant sat with him one to onethough there has been some improvement he is still pushing the boundaries daily. How is the best way to turn this arround and get him settled and happy any idears welcome ? There are some other children he seem to seek out to be partners in crime and some whom lets say i caught one trying to stand on his feet while he was sat quite on the carpet, im just told they're all as bad as one another. i wonder is this what's bothering him.his education is now being effected,
ganny jo - 29-Mar-16 @ 11:11 PM
Hi my ten year old daughter is getting out of hand, she does not do one thing she is asked to do by me, and totally ignores and disrespects me she calls me names tell's me to shut up, then punches me, and says i dont love her. I dont know what to do?
katyt - 28-Mar-16 @ 11:02 PM
My son is 9. He is very aggressive and abusive towards me and his sister(throws punches and kicks out) when he is angry. I'm at my wits end with it all. He has an older brother and younger sister both with ASD and learning disabilities. He has few friends and would rather watch TV than go out. Very rarely is he invited to a party or for tea, and is ignored outside school by his classmates. Not sure what to do please advice.
Mo - 15-Mar-16 @ 5:07 PM
My great niece is 6..But since she was 1 she's had these aggressive outbursts..We can be talking normally then she will just say dont look at me..Or go to scratch her skin on her hand..Her father has similer outbursts..She might not be able to put her shoes on straight away so she throws them & then go in a right grump then starts kicking doors or walls..l have a tiny dog she loves but i have to continuously watch her because she gets really angry with my dog if she dont sit on her lap when she asks her to. Please any advise or help would be fantastic .We have had this for 5 years..She never do it at school..
Donna - 7-Mar-16 @ 2:37 PM
My 5 year old Grandaughter hits out at her Mum when she has to do something she doesn't want to like getting ready for bed or going to bed, she doesn't do it to anyone else ? She is very aggressive she kicks, pinches and bites often leaving marks on her mum. I'm really concerned and don't know what to do to help. In my day a smack would have been given but parents are not allowed these days. The usual things have been tried like, avoiding a situation, keeping calm, time out, talking, etc etc but doesn't help, she gets lots of attention so I really don't understand, what can I do ?
Jeanie - 5-Mar-16 @ 5:52 PM
Mumof3 Thank you for the advice really helped it's mostly cuddles he wants a couple of days after I write that post he became ill with a viral infection and rashes all over poor baby I think that was his way of telling me he's not feeling right. Thank you for reading my post and getting in touch appreciate it a lot he's back to his normal self now but still got the dirty looks dace bit I make it into a joke or a game to wear him off them looks. Thank you for your time Lauren x
LaurenChannelle - 1-Mar-16 @ 7:53 PM
This is for Lauren. Often times children go through stages where they are trying out new behaviours. Your son is still quite young and I imagine that his language development is in its early stages. It sounds like he is frustrated about something and perhaps does not know how to communicate this with you. I would pay careful attention to when the outbursts occur. Is it when he is tired? Hungry? Needing a cuddle? I would not read too much into his behaviour, children at this age are not giving their parents dirty looks. Try to give him the words he needs or ask him to show you what he wants. Above all spend time with your child modelling the kind of behaviour that you would like him to develop. Setting limits in a firm, but loving way is important. Please let me know how it goes.
Mumof3 - 26-Feb-16 @ 2:14 AM
Hello my names Lauren, 21, I got a little boy whom will be 2 at the end of march. He's started to get really stressed recently and aggressive towards me. He gives me dirty looks, hits me, pinches me and bites and kicks me. At this stage I walk away and leave him to cry and scream; sometimes a hug helps him. I've got to the point where I cry a lot now thinking it's my fault. He's only like this with me I spend 24/7 with him doing my best and it's almost as if he hates me. I'm struggling to sleep just not knowing what the next day consists of. He used to be such a happy playful little boy always smiling and giving me kisses. If anyone has got any advice I would be greatful.
LaurenChannelle - 18-Feb-16 @ 9:17 PM
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