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How to manage an aggressive 3 year old?

Q: My nephew is 3 years old and is just getting into school. He is a wonderful boy as long as one is physical with him. But at times he gets very aggressive and has broken quite a few things in the house. He has got a rough skin and his grip is as good as an adult. Whenever he does something there is aggression and one can see him grinding his teeth with an idea of breaking whatever is in his hand. Controlling him is very difficult. Please advise.

A:I think your nephew has to be kept busy with a lot of activity, which will use up some of his energy. Gradually, he has also to be told that some things will break when dropped and to persuade him to be careful when handling objects. Give him clay to play with and to make shapes. He can have the satisfaction of watching things shatter, with the clay objects he makes. Sand is also a good medium for the childs self expression, if you have a little outdoor space. It is best to make the house safe for children, by putting all breakable and potentially dangerous things out of reach. A few blocks of wood, which can be used by the child to build and break houses and bridges, would be handy. Some children can learn after being told once, while others need a lot of repetition. Parents should be consistent (that is, they should agree on the kind of behaviour they like the child to show) and one parent should not give in, when a rule has been broken by the child. But everything must be handled gently and with patience. Shouting at the child or slapping him will only increase his tendency to be aggressive. Also spend some time with the child, when you, the uncle or the parents read him a story or teach him a song. If you can communicate a sense of enjoyment in dealing with the child, he may not find it necessary to break something just to get your attention. Not having met the child, I cannot say much more. It should be possible to talk to an older relative or a wise neighbour about the child. But don't feel that you have to take all the advice you are given.


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