Why is my 5 years old so angry and aggressive?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Why is my 5 years old so angry and aggressive?

We give you a few possible causes of aggression in children from 4 to  5 years old and give you tips on how to deal with an angry and aggressive child. 

Why is my 5 years old so angry and aggressive?

In some cases, aggressiveness is part of normality and with the following of certain behaviour patterns, aggressiveness will be diminished, but on other occasions, aggressiveness masks another type of pathology or disorder.

Hence the importance of a good evaluation to determine what are the causes of your specific case. 

Are you concerned that your child has numerous aggressive behaviours? You are not the only one. These situations are too common in our society and require a complete analysis that allows a good differential diagnosis to be made. 

Aggression in children from 4 to 5 years old

Many Parents want to know the causes of aggression in children so they can fix their behavior accordingly. Oddly enough, aggression is a normal part of a child’s development. Many children grab toys from their classmates, hit, kick, or yell continuously.

A child of that age is learning new skills of all kinds at all times: cognitive, manual, social, etc. Each new learning is a new challenge and if you feel overwhelmed or frustrated you can end up lashing out at a playmate or anyone close to you. If your child is in a new situation, one she needs to adjust to, and feels bad at some point, her way of reacting might be to assault a child who is nearby (if any).

Other times, you may simply feel tired. And having no other coping strategy, it responds with aggressive behaviours.

Even though you are already going to school and we feel that you must control your responses, a learning problem can make it difficult for you to listen, focus on an activity, read… hindering your performance in school and causing frustration. 

In addition, any event in your life such as your parents’ divorce or an illness in the family can cause you such pain that you do not know how to handle it and use aggressiveness in response.

Whatever the cause of your child’s aggressiveness, it is likely that she will overcome this aggressive phase as she becomes more skilful in her comprehension and language ability to solve the problems that appear in life. The key is to show your child that he/she will get better results that way than using aggressiveness.

How should I deal with my child’s aggressiveness?

Be an example: no matter how ticked off you are, try not to yell or hit and avoid telling your child that he is bad. The best way to teach him to change his behaviour is by being an example to him and showing him that physical and verbal aggression is done when one is out of control and that one should avoid going to that extreme. 

So a good example is that you control yourself in situations where you are ticked off and act calmly. If necessary, take some time.

Set a plan and stick to it: As much as possible, respond the same way to aggressive behaviour. The more predictable you are, the sooner you will establish a pattern that your child can recognize and expect in certain circumstances. Finally, your child will know that certain behaviours that are not appropriate will have their consequences and that if he does not want to suffer them, he must control himself.

Respond quickly to aggressive behaviour: When your child is aggressive, try to respond quickly. It is very important to let him know that what he has done is wrong immediately. You can get him out of the situation he is in for a short time. 

For example, for a preschool child 3 or 4 minutes may be enough. In the case of an older child, it may be considered appropriate to take away privilege as a consequence of aggressive outbursts: less television time, less playtime … These are all examples of negative punishment.

The goal is to associate your behaviour with the consequences and discover that if you hit or scream, you will miss something you like.

Talk to your child: It is good to wait until your child is more relaxed and talk calmly about what happened. The best time is when you are calm, but before you forget what happened. Ask him if he can tell you why he did it, the trigger. It is important to know how to resolve a conflict assertively and through good dialogue.

Explain that it is natural to get angry sometimes, but that does not justify inappropriate behaviours: biting, hitting, pushing or kicking. It’s about teaching her to recognize and understand her emotions by learning other ways to express them.

Show responsibility: If your child’s aggressiveness has damaged other people’s things, it should help fix it. Do not qualify these actions as a punishment but rather as a natural consequence of the aggressive act. Also, you need to make sure your child understands what he has to say sorry when he goes over the limits.

Reinforce proper behaviour: Instead of paying close attention to it when you misbehave, try to do it when you do things right. Tell him how proud you are of him. Show him that self-control and conflict resolution are more satisfying and that hitting is the worst possible outcome.

 It would be interesting to use a calendar stuck in the fridge or any visible place in the house, where the rewards are stickers on the days where you have been able to control your temperament adequately.

Control the time “in front of the screen”: it is important that you try to control the programs and video games that your child watches. On many occasions, programs that a priori seem appropriate to show inappropriate strategies for children: screaming, assaults …

Should I ask for help?

Some children have more problems with aggressiveness than others. If aggression is a frequent and serious behaviour in your child, and if it also interferes with school or other important activities in the life of a child of her age, consult a specialist.

Sometimes an undiagnosed learning or behaviour disorder is behind frustration and anger. Other times, the problem is related to family or emotional difficulties.

You have to be patient

Most of the time its behaviour is a transitory response, especially if we stop it with our example. You are going through a particularly difficult time, you do not know how to repress your frustrations and you are looking for an effective way to communicate. We must make it clear that violence is not the right way.

For this, our response is: we deactivate violent behaviour as a way to channel their anger. Then we can ask ourselves about the causes of their behaviour. It is generally nothing more than misdirected frustration, but other times we can find reasons that we must attend to.

When the violent attitude of the child is of slight intensity, it is convenient to act as if we had not heard him. After all, he doesn’t even know what that word means, he has heard it around and repeats it. 

If in the face of slight inappropriate attitudes, in addition to not responding, we distract their attention to another topic, we blur their aggressive behaviour, instead of promoting it, which is what we would do if we responded angrily with a scream.

Do we punish or downplay it?

When their manifestations are more intense, we can no longer remain neutral. Along with the attitude of calming him down, we must transmit him a simple and clear message: ‘don’t push’, ‘don’t bite’. 

It is not necessary to go into great explanations but to accompany the message with the appropriate gesture and tone: serious, blunt, but not furious. If we see fit, we can apply negative punishment, which involves depriving him of things he likes to associate an unpleasant consequence with his behaviour. 

For example, if he has pulled us by the hair and we had him in our arms, without great dramas we can lower him and tell him that we will not hold him again until he calms down.

But in general, we should not give too much importance to his outbursts, nor make them the centre of our conversations. Attention is the most powerful behaviour enhancer. Both positive and negative. So it is better to always make clear what is wrong, but also to enhance with our attention what is right. Finally, we can make peace and show him that we are not angry.

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FAQ on Why is my 5 years old so angry and aggressive

How can I help my 5-year-old with anger issues?

You can help your 5 years old with anger issues by talking with him about what is anger, how do we healthily express it, how anger can hurt us and others. Develop a plan to help your child calm down, teach him anger management techniques, ask for help when needed. 

Why is my 5-year-old so angry all the time?

There may be many reasons why a 5-year-old is angry all the time. Some of them can be grief, feeling helplessness, upset, a history of trauma or bullying. 

Why is my child so angry and aggressive?

In some cases, your child can be angry and aggressive because it is normal and with the following of certain behaviour patterns, aggressiveness will be diminished, but on other occasions, aggressiveness masks another type of pathology or disorder. 

How do you deal with an aggressive child?

When dealing with an aggressive child you have to respond quickly, remain calm, show your child the right way of doing things and expressing anger. Talk about why we feel angry, have patience.

Is anger a symptom of ADHD?

Anger alone cannot be a symptom of ADHD. Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion. If you feel helpless in controlling your child’s tantrums and anger outbursts, you may ask for the help of a specialist.

Can yelling at a child be harmful?

Yes, yelling at a child can be as harmful as physically abusing him. By yelling you show your child that this is the “right” way of expressing your anger and frustration. Thus, the child will do the same with his friends, colleagues, teachers – and also later in his adult life. 

Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: Why is my 5 years old so angry and aggressive? We gave you a few possible causes of aggression in children from 4 to  5 years old and gave you tips on how to deal with an angry and aggressive child. 

In some cases, aggressiveness is part of normality and with the following of certain behaviour patterns, aggressiveness will be diminished, but on other occasions, aggressiveness masks another type of pathology or disorder. Hence the importance of a good evaluation to determine what are the causes of your specific case. 

In general, we should not give too much importance to his outbursts, nor make them the centre of our conversations. Attention is the most powerful behaviour enhancer. Both positive and negative. So it is better to always make clear what is wrong, but also to enhance with our attention what is right. 

If you have any comments or questions, please let us know!

Further reading

Anger Management Workbook for Kids: 50 Fun Activities to Help Children Stay Calm and Make Better Choices When They Feel Mad, by Samantha Snowden 

What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger (What-to-Do Guides for Kids), by Dawn Huebner  

Starving the Anger Gremlin for Children Aged 5-9: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Anger Management (Gremlin and Thief CBT Workbooks), by Kate Collins-Donnelly

Anger Management Skills Workbook for Kids: 40 Awesome Activities to Help Children Calm Down, Cope, and Regain Control, by Amanda Robinson (Author)

Train Your Angry Dragon: A Cute Children Story To Teach Kids About Emotions and Anger Management (My Dragon Books), by Steve Herman

References

Childmind.org – Angry Kids: Dealing With Explosive Behavior

Nhs.uk – Dealing with child anger

Ahaparenting.com – 10 Tips To Help Your Child With Anger

Yalemedicine.org – Anger, Irritability and Aggression in Kids

Psychologytoday.com- Children’s Anger Management Strategies That Work

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