Handling Aggression

Yesterday I watched as a mom carried her son out of the pool at the YMCA.  He was not ready to get out and was beginning to throw quite a fit.  He was maybe 12-18 months old.  As she picked him up I thought, “ooh, I would never pick Boomer up like that (facing me) when he was mad because that is a guarantee he will hit me in the face.”  The I watched as this little boy threw a fit screaming, throwing himself back, wiggling wildly to get free.  And yet he never, not once, did anything aggressive towards his mom. No hitting, scratching, pinching, biting, head butting, spitting…  I am pretty sure Boomer did each of those things to me just yesterday.  Oh wait, I take that back.  There was no spitting yesterday.

When Boomer gets mad his instinct is to fight. It has to be instinct, because to my knowledge no one has ever done those things to him.  I’ve seen his sister push him, but certainly never bit him or spit on him, and especially not head butt him, since that would hurt her. I’ve been telling myself its a boy thing, but after seeing the boy yesterday I don’t know. We have tried holidng him, time out, positive redirection.  Nothing seems to help.  Yesterday he hit me and I held his hand as I tried to get him to look at me so I could tell him not to hit, instead he head-butted me.  Grrrr…. For those of you going through this, or who have been through this.  Is it normal?  How did you address it?  Will he EVER grow out of it.  Someday he will be able to hurt me and I definitely would like the aggression to be gone by then.

BTW, please don’t think he is always mad and aggressive. The vast majority of the time he is deliriously happy.  He is very much hot or cold, no in-between.  He can be very gentle and sweet.  He just has a temper…


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Courtney
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 21:53:57

    Hi there, I’ve never posted, but have followed your blog for about a year or so.

    I too have a son from Ethiopia and he’s 17 months and is doing the same thing. If he’s pissed (and it happens throughout the day, but only short spurts between the really happy times) then his arms start firing and he’s throwing punches. I too have been wondering if this is a phase and how to make it stop. If you find out, can’t wait to hear!

    You have beautiful children,


  2. Jill
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 22:33:59

    If you get any good tips, please share them with me! I am going through the exact same thing with my 2 year old. I really do believe it is instinct. My boys are 15 months apart, so they have had most of the same environmental experiences, and my 3 year old has never exhibited agressive behavior while with my 2 year old it is a big problem. I feel like my 2 year old was born with anger-management issues! Even when he was a very, very tiny baby he would get mad and clench his fists and shake. If baffles me because we are not angry or agressive people at all and it frustrates me to no end when I try everything I know to do to curtail the behavior with no luck.


  3. dawn
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 21:16:26

    Noah will slap at me if I am holding him and he is getting pissy, but other than that he doesn’t exhibt any agressive behavior unless you consider uninvited hugging 🙂 I just think some boys are more agressive than others and I am sure he will grow out of it. I know it has to be hard trying to deal with it now though. Best of luck.
    Thinking of you…


  4. Alison
    Aug 21, 2008 @ 17:50:07

    Oh this is hard, isn’t it! My son is two and is a hitter, slapper, spitter, thrower. Your description could have been him! Time has helped–a little less of this every week. One minute time outs have also helped. I set the kitchen timer while he sits in the other room. Weird that he actually sits, but so far so good. We talk a lot about being gentle and even “practice gentle” during some of his calm times. Good luck. He’ll grow into a sweet boy. 🙂


  5. angela
    Sep 14, 2008 @ 20:39:06

    I think he’ll outgrow it. You just have to set boundaries to let him know hitting Mommie is bad. Tantrums are common in 2-3 year old and he’s just having a tantrum.

    It also may work to get out of his line of fire and ignore it. When he realizes the behavior doesn’t generate attention, he will learn to stop. After he calms down then address his issues.

    Little girls can be just as aggressive without boundaries.


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