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How to Handle a Stubborn and Aggressive Child

How to Handle a Stubborn and Aggressive Child

Stubbornness in children is common during toddler and teenage years. Sometimes it might be due to his personality which you can help him to manage or sometimes your child is testing waters to set his boundaries. Stubbornness might also be a way that your child is trying to communicate to you so he is trying to get your attention. When you are disciplining such a child, ensure that you remain calm, understanding and listening. This is because your child will learn from the way you behave.

Aggressiveness in children can come in many different methods. A child can attack either his brother or sister or sometimes even the parents. They do so for a variety of reasons. Often, they want to have an upper hand and control the people around them.

The following are some of the aggressive behaviors that are exhibited by stubborn children:

•    Physical abuse – a child will try to chock, kick, hit, restrain or assault other sometimes using a weapon

•    Psychological/emotional abuse – this mostly happen from a child to a parent. The child will tell the parent either verbally or through actions that they are worthless.

•    Verbal abuse – occurs when a child yells, screams or curse a parent. Children normally use demoralizing words to abuse their parents.

•    Financial abuse – occurs when a child demands money from parents excessively. Sometimes the child might steal cash or credit card and use it unauthorized.

Dealing with a stubborn child is not easy. You will sometimes find it hard to get a stubborn child to do the basic chores like eating, bathing or going to bed on time. Sometimes, your child’s stubborn behavior is due to the little things you allowed him to engage in when he was little.

The best way to handle a stubborn child is to let him understand that his bad behavior does not pay. Look out for incidences where he behaves in a good way and recommends him.

How will you identify a stubborn child?

A stubborn child will exhibit the following characteristics:

  • He does things or assigned duties at his pace
  • He is fierce and independent
  • He has a strong desire to be heard and acknowledged. He will try to get your attention at all costs
  • He has strong leadership abilities. He will act bossy to other children
  • He will throw things around or sometimes hit things
  • He is bent and committed to doing what he likes

Most children will outgrow their stubborn and aggressive behavior.

Child Violence Towards Parents

stubborn kids

In most cases, when a child hits, bit or pinch the parent in what seems like a playful manner, most parents play along. This is not the right thing to do. This is because the child will think that what he is doing amuses the parent and he will continue doing it. It is advisable to stop the behavior as soon as it starts.

There are several reasons why children become violent towards their parents. The major contributors and causes of child violence include the following:

  • Emotional or physical challenges
  • Being a victim of either sexual or physical abuse
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Exposure of the child to abuse or violence in the home

To stop child violence towards parents, following the following suggestions:

If the child is a toddler if he hits or bites you, remove the toddler immediately from near you. Put him a short distance away from you where he cannot access your contact. By so doing, it will teach your toddler that every time he hits or bites you, he will miss contact with you. However, as you place him away from you, remain as calm as possible and give your baby time to figure out he did.

Another way of stopping child violence towards parents is to get parent-child coaching. If the child is old enough, getting professional help will help stop the behavior.

Child Aggression towards Mother

Being hit by your child can be infuriating, embarrassing and frustrating. Sometimes it might make you feel that you are failing as a parent. But, almost all children hit their parents at one point or another.

However, if your child hits you, the way you will respond will determine whether he will hit you again or not. The following are some suggestions on how to respond as a mother if your child hits you.

  • Teach your kid good manners – by telling your child “do not hit” is not enough. Teach him how to handle his anger. Teach your child to direct his anger towards something constructive rather than hitting someone. Let him go to his room, reach a book or take a deep breath. Teach your child about the different human feeling and the dark sides of letting his anger master him.
  • Set boundaries – come up with rules that address respect in your home. Let him understand that biting, yelling, punching, kicking and hitting are not allowed in your house. Make sure that your child understands the consequences of violating these rules in your house.
  • Outline the consequences of hitting you – every time your child hits you, tell him the consequences of his actions. Get a good explanation of the consequences of hitting you and explain them to him. For instance, every time your child hits you, take away from privileges from him or separate him from your presence for some time. You can also make him perform some chores every time he hits you. Such consequences will make him realize he the one losing by hitting you and he will stop.
  • Don’t Spank him – avoid spanking your child every time he hits you. If you spank him he will not understand why you can spank him and he cannot hit you. Children best by the example of actions rather than talking.
  • Seek help – if your child is older, seek professional help. There might be an underlying reason as to why your child hits you.

Child Aggressive towards other Children

Sometimes a child might hit orbit another. This can be a part of the interplay and nurture of your child. The environment where your child is growing might be the contributing factor. Most of the time, hitting and biting is part of child development.

Child aggression towards others is due to the following reasons:

(i)    Sensory – the way a child feels the environment around him is different from the adults. For this reason, he might want to kick, pinch, squeeze or push other children. Being violent towards other children is one way of feeling his sensory sensitivities.

(ii)    Behavioral – it is normal for humans to react when something happens around them. If you see another person being hit, you will feel empathy. When you see your child hitting another child, help your child to calm down.

(iii)    Energy – children are full of energy. When a child is overcome with that energy he will try to use it. Help your child to use his energy. Do not let him sit idle all day, help him do some exercise to use his energy.

(iv)    Curiosity – sometimes your child might be curious to see how other children react if he did something to them. If the other child responds negatively, he is likely to continue abusing them. When you see your child push another child, remove him from contact with the other child.

(v)    Communication – before a child is capable of using a verbal language to communicate, he will communicate using his body. If a child delays to talk, he is likely to become communicate more by hitting. As soon as he learns to talk, his aggressive behavior is likely to subside.

“Kids this age are undergoing so many developmental changes that make them act this way, and it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with them or your parenting skills,” Dr. Raches

Also, read

Ways to Curb Your Child’s Aggressive and Stubborn Behavior

Anger and aggression are common human emotions, even children can express them. And adult is better skilled on how to handle his feelings. A child, on the other hand, can easily turn his feeling into biting, kicking, pushing or hitting.

As a parent, if you notice your child has a tendency of stubborn and aggressive behavior, it is your duty to help him. You can help your child to learn self-control, judgment and ability to express his emotions in a more positive manner.

The following are some of the parent tested and fool-proof ways you can handle a child with such behavior:

1.    Help Your Child Learn How to Deal With Anger

Teach your child to use kind words to express his displeasure rather than using his body. In a calm manner, ask your child to explain what has made him lose his temper. Talking with your child through an issue can help him feel better. Also, it will encourage him to talk the next time he feels angry rather than hitting someone.

Try Not to Overreact – It’s impossible not to show your irritation sometimes, but try to stay calm. Move on to other things you can both enjoy or feel good about as soon as possible.

If your child is not comfortable talking to you about what is making him angry, he can talk to someone else. Find some he can talk to and let him express his feelings.

Also, every time your child shows control of his anger, praise him. This lets him know that you can notice when he is able to control his temper and this can encourage him to continue.

2. Don’t give up

Once you’ve decided to do something, continue to do it. Solutions take time to work. Get support from your partner, a friend, another parent or your health visitor. It’s good to have someone to talk to about what you’re doing.

3. Be consistent

Children need consistency. If you react to your child’s behaviour in one way one day and a different way the next, it’s confusing for them. It’s also important that everyone close to your child deals with their behaviour in the same way.

4. Don’t Spank Him as a Punishment

Most parents respond to a child’s stubborn behavior with a cane. When you spank your child every time he misbehaves, you are teaching him that the correct way of dealing with someone who does something bad is spanking. Physical punishment will not help your child overcome his bad behavior. In most cases, physical punishment encourages the child to continue with the behavior.

Your job as a parent is to raise a healthy and responsible adult not just to manage your child’s day to day behavior. Disciplining your child is a way of teaching him to overcome his bad behavior and become a fit person to live in society.

Spanking as a form of helping your child to overcome bad behavior does not help. First of all, it is painful and cruel. It can teach your child that you do not care for his feelings and that you are cruel. For this reason, you should not use spanking as a way of punishing your child for bad behavior.

Children learn by example so, if you hit your child, you’re telling them that hitting is OK. Children who are treated aggressively by their parents are more likely to be aggressive themselves. It’s better to set a good example instead.

Generally speaking, punishing your child is not an effective method of teaching your child acceptable behavior. Instead, it makes your child bitter and sometimes it might enhance his aggressive behavior. Instead, you should aim to teach your child how to handle his anger issues and expressing his emotions in a positive way.

5.    Negotiate

Under some circumstances, it might be necessary to negotiate with your child. When a child does not get he wants, it is normal to act out. If you want your child to listen to you, it is paramount to know why he is acting out.

The best way to negotiate with your child is by asking him questions. You can begin by inquiring what is bothering him. This will give your child an opportunity to talk to you. It also assures him that you are willing to listen to him and that you respect his actions.

By negotiating with your child it does not mean that you will give in to his demands. But it gives you an opportunity to know what he wants and you explain to him why he cannot get he wants at the moment and why not.

6.    Understand Your Child’s Point of View

Some stubbornness in children can be overcome by understanding their behavior from their point of view. Try to put yourself in your child’s shoes and try to imagine what he is going through. If you can understand your child, it will be easier for you to deal with his aggressive behavior.

Take your child’s side even as you are trying to help him manage his anger. By understanding his frustrations, anger and disappointment, you can be able to help him better.

Talk to your child – Children don’t have to be able to talk to understand. It can help if they understand why you want them to do something. For example, explain why you want them to hold your hand while crossing the road.

For instance, if your child refuses to do some house chores, it is possible that he is overwhelmed by the task. Maybe there are too many chores assigned to him. You can help him by telling him what to do first and how he can finish them within a short time. You can also encourage him to take a short break before going to do another chore.

5.    Create a Conducive Home Environment

Children learn best through observation of the things around them. If he sees you always arguing with his mother, it might possibly trigger is aggressive behavior. Misunderstanding by the parents can create a stressful environment for your child. To overcome the stress at home, your child can develop a behavior that will help him best cope with the situation.

According to studies, stressful home conditions are a major contributor to child aggressiveness. Children need to know which is and which is not acceptable behavior in the home. Ensure that everyone in the family knows these acceptable and no acceptable behaviors and follows them.

Any wrong behavior in the family should be reprimanded immediately. This applies to both parents and children. When children see good patterns in the family, they will follow and feel part of that family.

7. Be positive about the good things

When a child’s behaviour is difficult, the things they do well can be overlooked. Tell your child when you’re pleased about something they’ve done. You can let your child know when you’re pleased by giving them attention, a hug or a smile.


Your child needs discipline and rules. He should know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in the family. He should also know that there are consequences for both good and bad behaviors. Ensure that your child understands fully the consequences of his actions.

Ensure that the consequences for various actions are immediate. This is especially important for children old enough to link the cause to effect of an action. Consequences such as cutting TV time, assigning chores, time-out among others are some of the successful ways of dealing with a stubborn child. However, depending on the behavior, the punishment can vary.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not punishing your child, rather you are helping him realize his mistake. When a child understands that certain behavior is not acceptable, he is likely to change faster than when he feels he is being punished for his actions.

Another crucial thing when handling a stubborn child, both parents should have an understanding. If one parent tells the child not to behave in a certain way and the other pampers, the child will associate his behavior with the parent concerned. Therefore, both parents must be involved in correcting the bad behavior of the child.