Home > Behavioural Problems > Children and Aggressive Outbursts

Children and Aggressive Outbursts

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 4 Jun 2019 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I have a 6 year old son who has been so naughty since the age of 18 month old. Initially I thought it was the terrible twos kicking in but hes now 6 and is getting worse. It's getting to the point were I dread telling him no to a biscuit before tea! He kicks off he screams shots things at me and the other children,cries tries to harm himself. He also says strange things to me as he told me how he is going to be a serial killer when he is older,so I curiously asked how he was going to kill people,hes reply was with spoons he said he was going to ram them down people's throats. He strangles kicks hits punches his other siblings. If he loses a game he does all these things if he does not want to get dressed he does these things. At school he is not best behaved but not that bad. What can I do to help him?
Anonymous - 4-Jun-19 @ 1:05 AM
Hi I have 5 year old son when he cant get his own way or start being horrible to he friendswill answer me back by saying I don't care and he will call me and his father names he will throw things and hit his 1 year old brother he behave great at school please can somone give me advice
Red - 3-Jun-19 @ 5:26 AM
My six year old grandson is one minute a lovely child but if something doesn’t go well he explodes in the most horrible child he kick he thumps he shouts and screams and nothing we do makes him better, he is only 6 but he is very strong and if we can’t get any help I am afraid of what he will do in one of he tantrums, any advice out there would be great, his mum is the best a child could havebut she is covered in bruises where he has hit her ?? what can we do?
Wheels - 14-Aug-18 @ 7:24 PM
Youmeatrhys - Your Question:
I look after a friends son who is 5. Very violent would rather make spears and swords and weapens then play with his own toys. (That he has alot of) hes been kicked out of his first year of shool due to his behaviour and his violence after stabbing the teacher. He got tested for any problems but his results say hes positive and doesnt suffer with anythig like adhd or anyhting along the lines. its lile he has a split personality but idk how to help him control his anger at his age and let him fix his last chance at a mainstream shool

Our Response:
It might be worth finding out what the child is allowed to watch on TV/internet, what games he's allowed to play. It sounds like he has an unhealthy knowledge of violence etc.He may need professional counselling, ask for advice from his GP etc.
KidsBehaviour - 29-Jun-18 @ 2:12 PM
I look after a friends son who is 5. Very violent would rather make spears and swords and weapens then play with his own toys. (That he has alot of) hes been kicked out of his first year of shool due to his behaviour and his violence after stabbing the teacher. He got tested for any problems but his results say hes positive and doesnt suffer with anythig like adhd or anyhting along the lines.. its lile he has a split personality but idk how to help him control his anger at his age and let him fix his last chance at a mainstream shool
Youmeatrhys - 27-Jun-18 @ 6:52 PM
Hi I look after my grandson n have done since he was a baby,he's very violent to me n his teachers n who ever gets in his way,hes 6 I've got fsw, the behaviourpeople n school nurse involved. He punches me pulls my hair, swears at his teachers but doesn't swear at home,I'm on waiting list for CAMHS as we think he might have ADHD,Its really getting me down now I just don't know what to do next
nan - 11-May-18 @ 5:55 PM
@shane i dont think the best idea is social services i had a similar experience where i was bullied which led to me being violent and rebelling against my parents the care provided by docial services for violent kids is with other kids that have issues which can lead to more issues such as drug problems i new 13 year olds in social services care that were on the heaviest drugs also trouble with the law the cycle doesnt end till you leave goverment care please take this advice i no its hard i no my mum felt she had no option but i feelif we tried a few more options some thing would have worked but care ruins alot of childrens lives like 80% i mean i have lived with multiple kids who have oded or are contantly incarcerated or are just really bad drug addicts only a handfull come out ok! bte not being rude or judgemental just sharing what ive seen also workers abuse kids and r more violent with the male children!
proudmamma - 12-Dec-17 @ 1:04 PM
Hi my 7 year old son behaviour is getting out of control. When he was 5 he was quite independent loved school wasn't an angel but nothing compared to now. Just over a year ago he witnessed his dad being assaulted and was shown a weapon. He had help for trauma with Barbados after this but is so angry. He can go from being loving caring to hitting punching breaking things running out of house. Nothing works to calm him down most times he will tire himself out but can go on for hours. I feel a complete failure although my other son isn't like that. He refuses to go to school or let me go anywhere he plays with friends on his terms only and smashes his toys up. He says he can't help being this way waiting for professional help but he isn't angry at school mainly at home or out with us. Heart breaking not knowing how to help or what to do. Anyone had similar problem and can help
Feelafailure - 20-Oct-17 @ 11:40 PM
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
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • spanked and spanks o
    Re: Smacking and Children
    my mothers smacks r still felt today 12 years later igot from mom on daily basis from age 5 till 16 no less then 1000 slaps on each face…
    21 August 2019
  • Rose Valdez
    Re: Grounding Children
    Well right now I have been grounded for 7and a half months. I still have more time to serve though. I have to finish the 2019 year being…
    17 August 2019
  • Kate
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    I’m having isssues with my son who is 5 almost 6 he seems to switch off when your telling him off he’ll be good…
    4 August 2019
  • Mrstealyogirl
    Re: Grounding Children
    My friends bf has got grounded for like 2 months n tbh I reckon it’s not fair cos they not gonna learn so how can we get him ungrounded
    4 August 2019
  • Suz
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    My daughter has displayed ODD since very young. Here in Lancashire we cannot get a diagnosis. Camhs refuse to see her and…
    28 July 2019
  • Sugy
    Re: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
    My son is 3.5 years old and he seems to be hyper in all ways. He constantly disturbs everyone in home when they are working. Always…
    15 July 2019
  • Fjm
    Re: Smacking and Children
    I hate hitting my children as it makes me feel like I have lost control and could have handled it better. However once they have had a…
    14 July 2019
  • Ellabella
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    My son is now 13. He is the youngest of 5. I have always known there was 'something' different with Josh. I have a 22…
    5 July 2019
  • jack
    Re: Major Depressive Disorder
    My daughter always shouting at then she go for me then smash my house she alot pain in her back and her belly bad head alot and her…
    30 June 2019
  • Lakki
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    Hi ,,,My son is 6 1/2 year old boy .He is very good in understanding the situations and helping people , very…
    19 June 2019