Receiving a phone call from your child care provider letting you know that your toddler has been hitting, biting, or otherwise being aggressive toward the other children can be embarrassing and anxiety-inducing. The important thing is to remain calm and come up with a plan for addressing the aggressive behavior. Here are four tips for navigating this difficult situation:
Start by Getting All the Facts
Your initial instinct when you learn your child has been aggressive may be to become defensive or to overreact, but it's important to instead gather all of the facts about the situation when you are feeling calm. Ask your child's daycare teacher if you can set up an in-person meeting or longer phone call once you've had a chance to collect your thoughts. Ask for all of the important details, including how often this has happened (a one-time shove from a child who's feeling tired or overwhelmed is different from a child who has been consistently hitting their classmates for weeks), which children were involved, and if the teacher has noticed any specific triggers, such as fighting over a toy.
Consider a Different Daycare
In some cases, it may turn out that your child's daycare isn't the best fit. Toddlers sometimes act out in aggressive ways when they feel uncomfortable, ignored, overwhelmed, or in some way unsafe. Your child may need a smaller daycare with more one-on-one attention or a more quiet and soothing learning environment if their current daycare is on the loud and chaotic side. You and your child should feel very comfortable with the teachers and overall environment.
Talk to Your Child
In a quiet moment, sit down with your toddler and talk to them about what you've learned. Avoid being angry or focusing on punishment, and instead explain in simple terms that when your child feels frustrated they should tell their teacher or go sit quietly by themselves instead of hitting or biting. Focus on being empathetic and trying to understand where your child is coming from.
Seek Professional Help If Needed
If your child's aggressive behavior gets worse instead of going away, or there have recently been major life changes that your toddler may be struggling to process, a child psychologist can be a huge help. With limited vocabularies, toddlers often get frustrated when they can't express why they are upset. Child psychologists are trained in helping small children communicate through words, art, and movement, while also guiding them toward more constructive responses to anxiety than aggression.
Learning that your child has been aggressive at daycare is never a fun experience, but by following these tips, you will be able to address the issue before it becomes more serious. Talk to educators and check out sites like http://www.cottonwoodmontessorischools.com for more information.