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Playground Struggles: Minimizing Playtime Fighting and Aggression

In this blog post from the Triple P Team, we explore how to minimize toddler fighting and aggression. 

Ask most parents and they will tell you that preschoolers have big feelings. One minute, they ooze with love and affection. The next, steam is shooting from their ears over the injustices of not being allowed to color on the walls with red sparkle paint.

And boy, do they feel deeply. While having “big feelings” is generally a good thing, it becomes worrisome when fighting and aggression are the default reactions for solving problems.

From refusing to share toys to mean comments, it’s important to teach young children the importance of playing cooperatively and getting along with others—especially during a time when toddlers are striving for independence and testing their limits.

In preschoolers, fighting and aggression can happen for a number of reasons:

  • Out of competition or jealousy.
  • To get what they want.
  • To see what the reaction will be.
  • They see their parents or peers fighting.
  • Changes in the home: new sibling, recent move, divorce.

Teaching Positive Play

As in other areas of development, such as learning to walk or eating with a spoon, young children sometimes need to be shown how to play cooperatively with others, take turns, and problem solve in healthy ways.

A good first step is establishing some rules for playing with others. Avoid making a list of “don’ts.” Instead, have a list of positive things for your child to work on. This could include:

  • Be gentle.
  • Share and take turns.
  • Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
  • Speak using your “kind” words.

Remember to make the rules short and easy to remember. Start by giving your preschooler two or three to memorize and practice.

For more tips on minimizing fighting and aggression, visit lanekids.org.


This article is brought to you by Parenting Now Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis, and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). 

Triple P – Positive Parenting Program

For more information about the Triple P Online – Positive Parenting Program click here.

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