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Children sometimes hurt others. They can bite, scratch, pull hair, push or hit.

Around the age of 4, they might also use threats, insults and other hurtful words. This is normal. But these acts are unacceptable.

Kids need to understand that it’s normal to be angry, but it’s unacceptable to hurt others. These are important lessons, but some children find them more difficult to learn. These kids will need their parents’ help.

What can I do?

  • Help your child put what he wants and feels into words. You can do this by describing the situation. Gradually, he’ll learn to express his feelings and will feel understood.

“Don’t hit Lea. You’re angry because she doesn’t want to play Superhero with you.”

  • Be a good role model: talk about your own feelings and show self-control.

“I’m sad. I broke my favourite cup.”

  • Praise your child when she plays well with other children or expresses her feelings through words rather than aggressive acts or screaming.
  • When you read stories or watch TV with your child, talk about how the characters feel.

“Juliet destroyed Thomas’ sand castle. How do you think he feels?”

  • Draw on the situations your child experiences to help him understand the consequences of his actions.

Rather than saying “Stop hitting your friends,” explain: “Remember when Eva hit you yesterday? It hurt. You cried. It’s the same for Matthew: it hurt him too!”

  • Act right away if your child hurts another child. Put him in time-out if the problem persists. Give him the opportunity to be nice to his friends by allowing him back into the activity.
For more information
How can I help my child get along better with others? This issue of Naître et grandir (French only) will help.
Read more

Easy to say but not always easy to do? A little help could be useful?
Find out about the Triple P activities that are offered near you.


Centre d’excellence pour le développement des jeunes enfants (CEDJE). Les comportements agressifs. Les comprendre pour mieux les gérer

MSSS (2009). Les services intégrés en périnatalité et petite enfance. Favoriser le développement des enfants âgés de 1 à 5 ans. Guide d’intervention pour soutenir les pratiques parentales.

Naître et grandir.
Les comportements antisociauxL’enfant agressif