Step-by-Step Approach to Intervening in an Aggressive Situation

In part one of this series we shared the insight behind why your child becomes aggressive. Now, Patty outlines the steps you can take to intervene right away.

This approach works when your child is aggressive with friends, siblings, or even other adults.

A Step by Step Approach to Help A Child's Aggressive Behaviors

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Tools and resources

Read How I Respond Calmly When My Child Is Aggressive

Get more help and advice with aggressive behavior in this ebook, Reaching for Your Angry Child

Take the self-guided course Helping You Child With Aggressive Behaviors

Patty Wipfler's book Listen: Five Simple Tools To Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges is out now

9 thoughts on “Step-by-Step Approach to Intervening in an Aggressive Situation”

  1. thank you for addressing my issue with these helpful tips can’t wait too try them and see how approaching it in a new way will help me to connect and understand my kids better. we will keep you updated on how out worked. how can i get my 13year old son and 9 year old daughter to help with responsibilities around the house with out a fight?

  2. I love the support it offers me mentally when all i have left to offer my upset child is the abusiveness i was taught. I fight so often to stay calm, keep the example. Mentally i feel like I am broken when it comes to anger and my kids.
    I have read Positive Discipline just for some guidance for myself. I like the connection example of the video. It helps me to be less selfish, focus on my kids and what they need RTM. My mother is a Narcissistic woman, and sometimes i can’t hide from those taught traits, and I hate those traits.

    1. I was also raised by a narcissist. It was so difficult to grow up that way and it is a lifetime struggle to overcome. Be patient with yourself first, and know that your awareness shows you are not your mother. We all inherit traits from our parents, but to be aware of those traits and the want to change them is what sets us apart. It is a huge step forward. Keep up what you’re doing and we can change the next generation! Hugs to you!

  3. Thank you for the video and encouragement. I try really hard to ‘staylisten’ but often my six-year-old hits me quite aggressively when he is in the middle of a tantrum. I try to do what the mom in your video does and hold him so he can’t hit me, but he protests very loudly and says I am hurting him. I then let him go but then he just continues to hit me. I will try ignoring him next time and see how that goes. But I wonder how to know if ‘staylistening’ is working. Eventually he calms down, and then cries and wants to hug me, and then I try to talk to him about what happened. But I am starting to fear that ‘staylistening’ is not helping because he continues to hit when he is tantruming. On the bright side, he doesn’t do it very often, but still, I am wondering whether I need to seek another solution.

    1. Hey a fellow mom here who has the same problem. When my son hits me, I say, “mommy’s not safe. mommy is going to stand over here because I can’t hold you if you are going to hurt me. it’s important that we are safe.”

      Then my son will say, “No mommy!”

      Then I say, “I see you are struggling and I really love you and want to hold you. I will try again, but mommy needs to be safe.”

      I too am changing my ways. I have been spanking him now for 3.5 years and I’m finally making a serious effort to change. He kept kicking me and out of no where, I slapped his foot. I was mortified with myself!!!

      I brought him close and told him I was so so sorry while he screamed in my arms with no tears. I just kept apologizing and I held him in my arms. 10 minutes later he stopped and said, “Mommy I don’t accept your apology, but I still love you.”

      God bless them!!!!

    2. I’d like to add that the night I slapped his foot away, I didn’t step away from him and tell him that we need to be safe. I just keep telling him to stop kicking mommy and didn’t self-regulate, connect or teach. I was a mess that night. I was brutally abused as a child and I was triggered by my sub-conscious that night.

      My son’s behavior is improving fast!!! In just two weeks, he’s happier and more willing to listen to me.

      Another thing that is working for us is when I wake him up in the morning, I lay with him and cuddle him for 5 minutes. I tell him how much I love him and how much I will miss him when he’s at school. He’s all smiles and a good mood while we get ready to leave. IT”S AMAZING STUFF THIS CONNECTION THING LOL.

  4. Thank you so much for this. I have an almost 4 year old daughter who is going through a tough time at the moment. Every time I say she cannot have something she wants (eg ice cream – tv – ipad etc) she melts down completely, hitting, kicking, going & getting things to throw at me. It’s getting out of control. My question is, I have tried just holding her, but if I hold her she will try to bite me & purposefully try to hit me in the face. Directing all her energy at me. How am I supposed to hold her/stay with her without being hit or bitten (hard!)? She is so extroverted & happy most of the time with lots of friends at daycare. It’s just me this is happening to & it’s wearing me down. Thank you!

  5. The ‘staylistening’ concept has been increasingly in my awareness from more than one source, and is clearly something I need to hear. My heart deeply wants to be that open and accepting listener for my child, but the everyday experience quickly turns into me trying to stop my child’s bad feelings, stop the whining–just see it the way I do, control your emotions, and stop being upset (in not those words at all, but that is the actual message from me). BUT, nearly every time I go to follow through on this concept something doesn’t seem to ‘work’. On a practical level, I am nearly always up against a time limit. There are not that many moments when it is possible to have hour(s) to sit with an upset child and hear their feelings until they feel they are done. Usually there is a bedtime, or a class to attend, or another child needing my parenting, or dinner to prep, or, or… Even with a relatively slow lifestyle that we have chosen for the sake of our kids, it just never seems feasible! Also, when I have quite a few times managed to try my absolute hardest to be an ideal listener and allow my child to ‘let it all out’, it always seems to take a turn toward indulgent and my child becomes super-whiny, his complaints grow, they morph into all his complaints about everything, he gets even more disgruntled and angry about more issues…it seems to become a license to get nasty, and at some level we as humans have to learn to moderate our speech even if our feelings are overwhelming and bad. I hear the message that maybe if he could truly let all of that out he would not have the bad attitude and things would improve. But when the rubber meets the road something feels not right about encouraging him to speak out negativity without a boundary. What seems right is to listen thoroughly, hear his feelings, echo those back to him, but to eventually put a cap on it and end the listening session when it seems to inflame a bad attitude. But I am here because I want to really understand this and my relationship with my child is not as great as I would like it to be. I’m being honest in an effort to improve, but struggle to reconcile these ideas with my instincts. Thanks for the thoughtful videos and resources. 🙂

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