As children grow and develop, they begin to take great notice of the other children around them. They are wandering away from you and looking to make connections with others. This is a great step! However, because they are just developing their language skills, they often try to connect physically to communicate. Aggression is normal as children grow and explore. Our job, as their teachers and mentors, is to give them the tools to interact positively.
If your child is pushing or biting, here is what you should do during class:
- Stay near them. You know your child and his/her triggers. If you are close, you can stop aggressive behavior before it starts.
- Follow this three-step process: Intervene, Validate and Explain.
Intervene: Step away from the situation. Use yourself as a time out or place to cool down. Let him/her know that you are there to keep him/her safe.
Validate: Validate your child’s feelings, but not his/her actions. A simple, “I know you are upset because you wanted the purple pom pom and that’s okay, but it’s not okay to hit our friends” is really useful.
Explain: Let your child know why you removed him or her from the situation. You can say, “You hit Fernando and that’s why you’re sitting here with Daddy. I know you’re upset. Sit with Daddy until you are calm enough to play.” If he/she pulls on you, you can offer, “When you stop pulling on me, I will let you go.” Then when he/she is ready to join class again, distribute praise like “You did it! Now that you are calm, you are ready to play. Thank you.”
General Tips and Hints
- Stay calm. Remind yourself that this a part of your child’s learning and growth.
- Do not try to reason with him/her. I fall into this trap often as well. We are tempted to ask things like “Would you like it if someone pushed you?” But in reality, your child has not yet developed the emotional maturity for empathy. Instead, you can offer him/her clear consequences. If he/she pulls a toy out of a friend’s hand, then he/she loses the toy. If your child pushes someone off the balance beam, then he or she must sit with you. Well-defined cause and effects will aid his/her decision making in future situations.
If your child is being pushed, her is what you should do during class:
Intervene: Give the other child space. It is important to teach your child the power of words and to use words instead of hands as a reaction tool. Provide him/her with the language to say, “I don’t like that” or “No, thank you” and teach him/her to walk away (to encourage independence, guide this action rather than picking him/her up). Use positive language to suggest other items or areas in which to play.
Validate: Offer support. Let your child know it is okay to be upset. Ex: “I know that hurt your feelings and it doesn’t feel good when someone pushes you or takes something from you.”
Explain: Let your child know what is happening. You can say, “He/she is still working on learning to take turns, or learning to use his/her words to get what he/she wants.”
General Tips and Hints
- Stay calm. We are all working and growing together. Take this opportunity to model calm problem solving for your child.
- Use your teacher as a resource. You can always check in with your teacher after class. We are here for you and your child!
Miss Becca, Artistic & Curriculum Director, teaches and interacts closely with the 12 month to 5-year age group. She is a lead teacher in Bubble Prep, Bubble Me, Bubble Step, Bubble Art+Music and Creative Movement classes.