How do you know if your child's anger has been too intense for too long? TVOParents and the child mental health experts at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre have pulled together the following lists of anger and aggression-related behaviours for ages 3-5 to help you decide when anger has become a problem.
Behaviours are divided into three categories below; Typical (not to worry), Monitor (reason to continue monitoring behaviours) and Seek Help (behaviours may indicate a potential mental health problem). These are only some of the highlights from the ABCs of Mental Health on the Hincks-Dellcrest site. Click here to see the full lists of behaviours and things you can do.
When at home, it’s not unusual for young children to occasionally display anger or aggression.
These behaviours will also change as your child gets older. Typical behaviours you might see for kids 3-5 include the following. Click here for a full list of behaviours for your angry child.
- Angry outbursts.
- Temper tantrums.
- Drawing angry or aggressive pictures.
- Confrontations with peers, parents or even other adults.
- Throwing things.
- Damaging or destroying property.
- Threatening or intimidating others.
- Hitting, kicking, biting and fighting.
It can be hard to know when something is cause for concern. If your child is displaying the following behaviours, it could be a sign of a problem. It’s best to continue to monitor the situation and watch for any progression or worsening. Click here for the full list of behaviours for your angry child.
- Angry outbursts so intense that the entire family is disrupted, siblings are upset, or the child is exhausted by the event.
- Aggression toward other children that results in rejection and difficulty finding playmates.
- Aggressive incidents happening as much as once a month or more.
- An instance of anger or aggression that goes on for more than a few minutes and the child cannot be distracted.
The following signs of anger and aggression in children aged 3-5 are cause for serious concern, particularly if they interfere to a significant extent with the child’s functioning in school, social situations or normal family life. Frequent, intense or long-lasting anger and/or aggression episodes signal there is a need for a referral to a mental health specialist. See the full Hincks-Dellcrest list for behaviours for your angry child.
- A pattern of ongoing aggressive behaviour, whether obvious or subtle.
- Frequent threats or intimidation.
- Frequent temper tantrums severe enough to disrupt the environment at home or at school.
- A strong need for power and control (often displayed in arguments and power struggles).
- A strong need to dominate others (e.g. always has to be the boss or always needs to win).
- Frequently damaging or destroying property either in anger or in a vindictive way.
- Frequent fighting or physically assaulting others.
- Any evidence of cruelty toward younger children or animals.
- Any fire setting, especially if it may have been on purpose.
Need Help? What To Do:
- Professional help is almost always needed when a child is displaying Red Light signs.
- Talk to your doctor about connecting with a mental health professional.
- Document your child's behaviour, what happens, when, how often and the severity.
- Determine a reward for your child's good behaviour.
- Think about some negative consequences or punishments for bad behaviour.
- Formulate a plan of how to deal with these incidents while waiting for professional help.
- Execute the plan and stick to it.
Find more recommendations for your angry child in the ABC's of Mental Health section of the Hincks-Dellcrest website.