Are there specific behavior management techniques for young children with aggressive behavioral disorders so that they can participate in activities as fully as possible?  

When children exhibit behaviors, the best approach is to understand the behavior. For example, the behavior itself is something easily seen, but the underlying reasons may require a little more detective work. One important fact to remember is that all behavior has meaning. Behavior can be influenced by a child’s developmental age, temperament, and environmental factors.  For example, a child with a language delay may hit or push because they do not have the words to express what they want. It is important to keep in mind that children under three years of age are driven by their emotions and not by logic. They experience a lot of “big” feelings and react based on how they feel. When a caregiver has a better sense of understanding, they can be more empathetic to the child and respond in a supportive manner. First and foremost, it is essential that caregivers remain calm in the moment. 

Offering choices is another strategy to help young children maintain their independence, but remove the opportunity for a power struggle. Allow the child to make a choice between two different activities they can participate in. This shows the child the caregiver respects their feelings. Use words to validate a child’s feelings such as, “You feel mad because Timmy took your toy.” 

Consistency, especially in rules, also helps the child understand what to expect. Sometimes, a child may feel so overwhelmed by their feelings, there is no reasoning with them. In order for a message to be heard, they must calm down first. Provide a safe space, such as a cozy corner, where a child can go when they feel overwhelmed. Once they are calm, debrief the situation. 

Finally, children who display behaviors may have sensory needs not being met. For example, a child may prefer movement activities over sitting down to participate in an activity. Offer an individualized support for that child such as a wiggle chair to sit at the table while completing an activity. It is always best to meet a child where they are developmentally. If a task is too hard, the child may feel frustrated before even attempting the activity.