Aggressive behaviour and age

Aggressive behaviour and age
During a child’s first 2 years of life, aggressive behaviour increases and usually peaks between the second and third birthdays.

The intensity of aggressive behaviour at around 2 years old is primarily related to the child’s stage of development, according to Loriana Giuliani, director of CASIOPE, and Marie-Christine Harguindéguy-Lincourt, educational psychologist. At this age, your toddler is developing his independence and interacting more with his peers. The flip side is that he still hasn’t acquired the necessary skills to keep his relationships harmonious, because:

  • his language skills are still being developed and it’s difficult for him to express his needs clearly.
  • his appreciation of another person’s point of view is limited. He’s not able to put himself in someone else’s place to understand things from a different perspective.
  • he has little ability for self-control. His actions are often impulsive.
  • it’s difficult for him to wait his turn and he still has little tolerance for frustration.
  • he wants to enjoy relationships with others, but lacks the means to do so appropriately.
During a child’s first 2 years of life, aggressive behaviour increases and usually peaks between the second and third birthdays.

From 3 years old, children have very clear opinions about the games they prefer, what they like to do and whom they like to do it with. They negotiate with their friends, parents, and the people who take care of them to get what they want. Since they now have more language skills, they may instead turn to more indirect forms of aggression: they may threaten, ridicule, verbally exclude or insult certain people in order to get what they want.

Communication and self-control are key!
Aggressive behaviour should start to phase out progressively as of 3 or 4  years old, according to studies led by Richard E. Tremblay, a researcher for the Research unit on children’s psychosocial maladjustment. At this age, children acquire a greater ability for self-control. They’re able to rely on social communication to resolve conflicts or to express their needs. They will gradually adopt non-aggressive behaviour to manage their negative emotions (e.g.: anger, frustration or fear).