Preschoolers are a delight to be with. Their curiosity for learning about the world and their antics of imitating adults are entertaining. But you cannot expect good times to last forever; your preschooler's behaviors can become difficult to handle sometimes. Aggressive behaviors such as fighting, hitting or biting and temper tantrums are all common in preschoolers. Dr. Susan Campbell, author of "Behavior Problems in Preschool," says in an interview for Scholastic that 95 percent of aggressive behaviors in preschool children are probably nothing you need to worry about. What is important to make a difference at this stage, she says, is how caregivers, including parents, teachers and other adults in the preschooler's life, handle the negative behaviors.
Make it clear to your child that you accept that he has the right to feel anger and frustration, but you are not going to tolerate his aggressive behavior resulting from such emotions. Say, "I understand you are angry with Ted, but that does not mean I'm going to let you hit him."
Help the difficult child recognize feelings of anger and frustration and the resulting behaviors. Use actions of other children to associate the emotion, such as telling him, "Mark yelled because he was angry." Teach him words to communicate his feelings of anger and frustration.
Encourage children to talk to you about their feelings. A simple, "You seem angry. What happened?" can be enough. Listen to the child as she tells you the problem without judging or interrupting. Talk through the situation along with the child so that she explores the problem by herself. "Why do you think he did that?" can set the child thinking about different reasons and come up with a solution, too. Do not be in a hurry to end the conversation.
Do not yell, reprimand or get angry with the difficult child. It is important that you stay calm to make her understand that her behavior was unacceptable. Preschoolers are very keen on the "why" of everything. Explain to her why you will not tolerate her behavior. Say, "Hitting hurts and I don't like it when you hit someone." Tell her clearly that you are angry with her behavior and not her.
Implement the "time out" method to deal with difficult behaviors. Isolate the difficult child to a private place for five minutes when his behavior gets out of control. This gives him time to calm down. Call him back after five minutes and explain to him what happened, what he has done as a result and what he should have done. Use simple language: "Your friend took your toy. He was wrong, but you should not have hit him for that. You should have asked him to give your toy back."
Be a role model to the child with your behavior. Children learn their behavior from adults. Do not take out your anger or frustration on your child. Pause for moment when you are angry of frustrated, take a deep breath to let out the emotions and then talk to the child. If you have snapped at your child in anger, apologize to him and tell him that you are angry with the situation and not with him; it is important that the child knows that he is not responsible for your mood so that he does not feel guilty.
- little preschooler image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com