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Hitting, biting, kicking, fighting

A child who is aggressive can cause parents a lot of anxiety, but most young children will occasionally bite or hit someone or push another child. So, if your child is sometimes aggressive, this does not mean he or she is going to grow up like this.

Toddlers are also curious and may not understand that biting or pulling hair hurts. However, if your child is being aggressive he or she needs to understand that this is not acceptable. Here are some suggestions for dealing with it.

  • Don’t hit, bite or kick back. It makes behaving like that seem all right. You can still make it clear that it hurts and you won’t allow it.
  • If you’re with other children say you’ll leave, or ask others to leave, if the behaviour continues – and do it!
  • If the behaviour is directed at you at home and your warning is ignored, place your child in another room, where it is safe for them to be, for a short period.

  • Talk. Children often go through patches of insecurity or upset and let their feelings out by being aggressive – at playgroup, for example. If by talking you can find out what’s worrying your child, you may be able to help.
  • Try to show your child how much you love him or her, even though you don’t love the way he or she is behaving. Children who are being aggressive aren’t so easy to love. But extra love may be what’s needed.
  • Help your child let his or her feelings out some other way. Find a big space, like a park, and encourage your child to run and to shout to get rid of the angry feelings inside. Just letting your child know that you recognise the feelings will make it easier for him or her to express them without hurting anyone else.
  • If you are seriously concerned about your child’s behaviour, talk to your health visitor or doctor.


We are indebted to Health Promotion England for their help in compiling this section.