There is a 2-year-old in our home who often solves his problems with aggression — hitting, biting, kicking and throwing whatever item is within reach. It has been a sea change from the way our older son handled frustration at the same age. Since my wife and I have given each of our children the same attention, love and care in their formative years, it makes it more difficult for us to anticipate and predict our younger child's behavior. 

It's a challenge for any parent to tackle this situation, which is fraught with explosiveness and the possibility of things escalating out of control. Here are a few things to consider if you are confronted with a similar problem:

1. Your Reaction Is Key

If your child is lashing out in an aggressive manner, you need to stop yourself from reacting similarly. For many of us, our gut reaction to a child who bites or hits another is to be angry. That is normal. But in this instance, reacting calmly, yet firmly will likely be much more beneficial for all concerned. Your anger might only escalate the situation and make your already wound-up child even more ready to punch, kick or hurt someone or hurt himself.

2. Be Understanding

If you have a young child who is acting violently, choose a response that focuses more on understanding and patience than anger. There must be a root cause for your child's actions. Is he upset about a perceived slight? Lashing out because you haven't spent as much time with him? Does he feel scared or frightened about something and aggression is his default way of showing his emotion? If you can begin to answer these questions, then you might begin to carve out the root cause of the problem and deal with it.

3. Avoid Certain Situations or People

Is there another child that seems to set your child off? Is there a particular place that brings out more aggressive feelings in your child? Take a step back and think about where, when and with whom your child typically acts out. If you can avoid these people or places you might be able to diminish the occurrences.

4. Anticipate Problems

If you know that there are certain circumstances where your child is more likely to be aggressive or lash out, make sure you stay close to your child to head off any problems before they get out of control. Be on top of the situation from the get-go, stop the problem before it escalates and begin the process of calming your child down.

5. Help Him

After an episode or incident, remove your child from the situation, if possible. Change his surrounding, reassure him that you are there to help him and try to get him to talk about his feelings and what caused him to act aggressively towards another. It will take a monumental amount of patience on your part but each instance could provide a breakthrough into your child's emotions and what is causing the trouble. Discuss with your child what happened, how he felt, how he made the other child feel, and explain that he needs to apologize for what did.  

6. Punishment

There must be some consequence for your child's actions. By placing him in time out immediately, it might only set him off further. It might be helpful to sit him down, talk to him and help him understand why punishment is warranted and necessary. Is time out effective for your child? Maybe a loss of privileges is a better choice. Or maybe there is another option that works for your child. Regardless, the punishment must be in the moment and must rise to the level of the offense.

7. Talk Again

Let some time pass but come back to the issue with your child, preferably in the same day. Reiterate your feelings and try to see if he's ready to open up about what happened.

8. Look At Your Actions

Do you spank? Do you react in anger to problems that bubble up in the home? Do you allow your children to watch shows or videos that are not age appropriate that depict violence or anger? As you try to solve the riddle of your child's behavior, you must not be afraid to look inward and determine if there is anything that your child witnesses in the home that could be a contributing factor. If so, make changes. It's never too late.