Updated: Aug 31, 2020
Seeing your child display uncontrollable aggression toward others is worrisome, especially if the behavior is constant.
An aggressive behavior is when a child intentionally behaves in a manner to hurt others. Such behavior is perceived unwelcome and others want to avoid it. Violence is an extreme form of aggression which results to fatal injuries.
Psychologists' views of the origin of aggression in children are divided. Some believe that aggression in children can be attributed to biology (innate), while others think of it as learned through personal experiences or observation of others. But many are convinced that both factors influence aggressive behaviors.
Either way, parents play a very important role in teaching their kids prosocial behaviors such as controlling aggression.
How to prevent and manage a child's aggressive behavior:
Encourage your child to express frustrations through words.
Toddlers who have difficulty using words to communicate their needs and wants are more likely to become aggressive. Therefore, anticipating their needs and wants is important for parents to prevent escalated frustrations.
Avoid exposing your child to unpleasant environment such as too hot temperature, crowded places, foul or unpleasant odor, cigarette smoke, air pollution, and disturbing noises. All these could trigger aggressive impulses.
If your child is experiencing some kind of physical discomfort (such as pain from a wound or illness), be sure to alleviate it immediately. Administer physician prescribed pain medication as needed.
Teaching your child to relax by deep breathing and to redirect his/her attention away from negative sensations such as by reading his favorite book or listening to soothing music can also prevent aggression toward others caused by unpleasant body aches.
Young kids shouldn't be allowed to watch violent videos or movies. So next time you sit for a movie night, plan ahead and make sure to choose age-appropriate movies.
Likewise, parents should be vigilant not to let their children have fun playing brutal video games. It's so sad and alarming to witness kids having so much pleasure interacting with video games that give rewards or recognition (e.g. leveling up, getting more coins, points or extra lives) after hurting others or destroying things.
If you legally own firearms, please do not allow your kids to see it or worse, play with it. Parents should be strictly liable to keep such things away from your children's sight and reach.
Clearly communicate with your child that aggression isn't acceptable. More importantly, you have to demonstrate what you teach them-- this is good role modeling.
You might also want to assess how you and your partner settle arguments. Are the kids seeing you fight and shout at each other? Are you setting examples of physical aggression? Be more discreet when resolving disagreements. Be good role models for your children.
The family is where a child builds his/ her moral foundation. Proverbs 22: 6 says:
Emphasize to your child the value of respecting norms, rules, and other standards of behavior, as well as self-control and respect for others.
A common source of aggression among kids is when sense of ownership is threatened. We can usually observe hitting, grabbing, or biting to work out childish arguments over sharing and ownership, and we shouldn't permit it.
Parents can help young children successfully deal with this matter by instructing them to seek permission before touching or playing with somebody else's thing.
Never say words that could degrade your child's self-worth. Instead, constantly show him love and respect so that his self-confidence grows. Getting humiliated that results to shame can lead to aggressive behaviors.
Teaching our kids to apologize by saying "I'm sorry" cannot be overemphasized. In addition, genuinely accepting apologies is necessary to ensure he/she does not cultivate feelings of retaliation.
Do not support your child to "get back" or to get revenge. Instead, teach him/her to be assertive and to use appropriate words in setting limits on others who cross the line.
If aggressive behaviors seem uncontrollable or getting worse, consulting with a licensed healthcare professional may be necessary.
Parents must realize that aggressive behaviors can be more difficult to change once kids have grown up. Thus, proper child rearing backed up by love, empathy, and respect for your kids and conscious effort to prevent and manage childhood aggression are crucial elements in raising socially well-behaved children.
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