Help! My 4 Year Old Is Aggressive!

Looking for parenting tips for coping with aggressive kids? Our readers chimed in with a few of their favorite ideas for calming down an over-active child.

One of our mom readers wrote us concerned about her four year old son who has anger issues and has raised his fists to adults.  She went on to describe that her son has a sensory processing disorder and possibly autism.  People in her life are blaming her lack of consistent parenting on his anger and unacceptable behavior (how rude!)

It is a horrible feeling when you want to help your child and you feel you have tried everything under the sun, and people blame you (because they are perfect parents).  She was asking what else she could do, she was feeling lost and unsupported.  I know I feel this way from time to time (ok, maybe a few times a day).  Here are a few parenting tips from other moms for coping with aggressive kids.

Related: How To Deal With Your Biggest Parenting Challenges

Parenting Tips: Coping with Aggressive Kids

Tire him out: In short, yes, tire him out.  But really what this means is to allow him to get all of his energy out.  Take him outside, ride bikes, play tag, toss a ball, keep him engaged and avoiding any triggers for his aggression.  Just thinking about all of that wore me out!  If you start to see his anger bubble up, nip it in the bud, firmly but in a loving manner and then distract and redirect, like make him run around the outside of the house 10 times (I’m just kidding, well, maybe not).

Use your words: This may be one of the most important parenting tips for coping with aggressive kids. This is for your child, not you, well, yes you need to use your words too, and make sure he understands you.  Get down to his level, literally, and calmly talk to him about his feelings before they get out of hand.  That sounds like something out of a Full House episode, and may not go as planned at first.  Don’t give up!  We all know that no one can have a rational conversation in the heat of the moment, and neither can a child.  He needs you to explain to him how to use his words and express how he is feeling.  Yelling and other negative behavior is just hypocritical and confusing.  Not to mention condoning, he got attention for his outburst, he will keep doing it.

Related: Benefits Of Letting Your Child Win An Argument

Well fed and rested: A lot of time, aggression and other behaviors are related to nutrition and sleep.  Try less processed foods and more of the good stuff (trying to get your 4 year old to eat cauliflower may end up in an outburst, so I don’t recommend starting with that one).  Also make sure he is getting enough sleep at night.  At 4 years old, kids need about 10-12 hours of sleep per day.  Hopefully after those laps around your house he will be sleep well!  At least you will from watching!

Give him jobs: Try to keep him busy.  I have heard from other mothers that they notice their sons can get aggressive when bored.  Let him help you cook and clean and do laundry (you know, the things you don’t really want to do).  It may make those things much more fun, for both of you.  And think about what you are teaching him, by first grade he will be able to do his own laundry!
As moms, we constantly wonder if we are doing the right thing, could we be doing better, what are we doing wrong?  As fellow moms, we should be supporting each other, not putting each other down (this isn’t high school anymore, act like an adult).  Being a mom is a tough job, especially when you feel you are doing everything you can for your child, yet nothing seems to be working.  Show love and support to a mom when you see she needs it.  Don’t kick her when she is down, that is just mean.  She probably won’t ask for it, we are stubborn like that.

 How have you handled difficulties such as aggressive kids?  Share your parenting tips below, and support a mom.

22 thoughts on “Help! My 4 Year Old Is Aggressive!”

  1. Great tips!! Got anything for super hyper active kids that can’t sit still or stop talking? Like they feel the need to make noise every second of the day?

  2. Great tips! I don’t think any of my kids are aggressive. My boys are super rough at times but I do know a lot of kids who are aggressive and I just don’t know how I’d cope!

  3. This is a great resource for parents who are struggling with this problem. I think keeping them busy will help a lot.

  4. What we eat and how much sleep we get really has a big impact (especially on small children). I know some of my sibling really react to certain food coloring.

  5. As a fairly new grandmother, this is not something that I think we (our family) has to worry about as both her parents are calm tempered. I believe that children become what they live/see. A good open relationship, where conversations and discussions about feelings are welcomed and encouraged, instead of shouting at our children is very essential. Thanks for a great post.

  6. These are great suggestions. I’m not a parent, but this is something I can keep in mind with family and friends and if I have children in the future. I really agree with making sure they are eating well and getting enough sleep. Also giving them other outlets or tasks. I know some adults who don’t like to be sad so when they start feeling sad it turns to anger. They may just not know how else to express their emotions.

  7. Elizabeth Matthiesen

    That poor mother doesn’t have it easy, I do hope that with all these great tips that they help her to master the situation.

  8. Great tips! It’s so hard when others blame you for behavior in your child that is essentially none of their business. I hope everything starts getting easier for her and her little man… after all that running around the house he should be plenty mellow!

  9. Thanks for the tips – I also think being a good example is important. If I yell all the time I can not expect my kids to react in situations without yelling – even if I tell them to speak kindly.

  10. All great tips! Another one that is so important is following through on consequences. If a consequence is losing a privilege with bad behaviour, then follow through on it. If you don’t, how else will the child know to take you seriously next time.

  11. Love these tips! (the “use your words” and keeping them busy are both great in my experience!) Sometimes just explaining things can make a big difference in behaviour or acceptance of what is going on.

  12. These are great tips. It’s also worth taking them to get assessed for a psychological disorder, to see if they need more formal supports.

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