Why Punches Fly
While babies will sometimes munch on a playmate's foot, their actions most often stem from curiosity rather than anger. Toddlers, on the other hand, lash out in fits of rage, which is what sends parents over the edge imagining that they're raising a maniac, destined to become the next Mike Tyson, or at least the local bully.
Dr. Scholer assures us that it's not the case, "Almost all toddlers are aggressive at some point. It most likely occurs because young children have not had a chance to learn socially appropriate ways to respond to life's challenges. For example, it is easier for a toddler to take another child's toy than to ask, 'May I please have a turn?'"
Dr. Cathryn Tobin, PhD, author of The Parent's Problem Solver agrees, "Most biting problems happen because a young child doesn't yet have the communication skills he needs to deal with his emotions. Young children have poor impulse control."
The good news is that most children outgrow hitting and biting between the ages of three to five. But they don't stop all by themselves; parents must teach children how to handle frustration or their violent behavior could become a permanent personality trait.
"Aggression can start becoming a stable characteristic as early as three years of life, and aggressive behavior is even more stable if it is persistent in a seven-year-old. This doesn't mean that all aggressive children will be violent when they are older. It simply means that children who have not learned to control aggressive tendencies within the first three to seven years of life are more likely to be violent as adolescents and young adults," Dr. Scholer explains.