In most cases, positive action taken by you is enough to help your child control his behavior. You can offer him alternative ways to release his aggressive feelings and become a better role model for him.
Talk to him about acceptable ways to express his feelings. “When you’re angry enough to hit your brother, you have to let him know with words, not actions. Tell him what’s making you mad.” “If you feel yourself getting so mad, don’t hit, come to me for help.”
Let your child see how you handle aggressive feelings in your own life. Show him how you talk out your problems or take time to cool off until you feel calm. Don’t spank, grab his arm, or put him roughly in his car seat when you’re angry or frustrated. Kids imitate their parents and, if you can model appropriate behavior, he’ll learn from you.
Watch as he interacts with others. He may be aggressive in a playful way, tugging on a friend’s shirt, teasing, pretending to be in a wrestling match, or calling out silly names. If the aggression seems benign, don’t interfere. But such behavior can often escalate, and even if the tone stays playful, your child’s aggression can become very annoying to others. If you see that happening, firmly step in: “Suzanne doesn’t want you to push her like that.”
Since explanations and talking about other children’s feelings don’t usually work with young children, give constant reminders. “You may not play roughly.” “No hitting.” Distract your child and his friends with a new activity or different topic of conversation. “Come in for a snack,” “Show Brett your new game,” or “Let’s make a fort.”
Your child simply may not yet have all the inner controls to halt his aggressive behavior. Until he acquires control, he’ll need you to offer guidelines and be clear about how to treat others.