Aggression is a reactionary, unplanned, and impulsive behavior that usually results from feelings of anger, fear, or the need to retaliate against another person.
Aggressive behavior can be triggered by multiple situations such as; your child not getting what they want from the shops, not wanting to sit in their car seat, fighting with siblings, not wanting to go to bed or just outright disagreeing with you.
Anger is destructive and can cause emotional or physical harm to family members and others, intentionally or unintentionally.
Aggression can be a problem for children with healthy development as well as those who are suffering from psycho-social disturbances. The harm done to someone through accidents isn’t considered as resulting from aggression since aggression involves the perception of intent.
For instance, if your child accidentally breaks someone’s arm during a rugby match, that won’t qualify as aggressive behaviour, since he did not intend any harm.
Social isolation, changes in the home environment and underlying health conditions can lead to increased aggression in children. Also, the level of hostility shown by a child depends on their sex. As such, it’s proven that boys are more aggressive than girls.
Some children, regardless of their age, are aggressive because they found out that aggression is a powerful way to communicate their wishes. Others see it as the only way to handle their likes and dislikes. For example, infants tend to be aggressive when they are hungry, angry, fearful, in pain, or uncomfortable.
You can tell what your child needs by their loudness and pitch of crying. Some even thrash their arms and legs as a way of communicating their feelings and needs.
Similarly, it is not uncommon to find children between ages two to four showing aggressive behaviour such as damaging furniture, toys, hurting others, or throwing temper tantrums due to frustration. Some children see attacking others as a way of standing up for themselves.
The following factors can cause aggressive behaviour in children:
I encourage parents to use violence prevention strategies to dramatically reduce their children’s exposure to violence in the home, in the community, as well as in the media.
The more violence your child becomes exposed to at a young age, the more they consider it acceptable behavior. Next time your child gets angry, try the below to see if you can reduce the anger in your child:
It is so important to teach your child to identify and understand their feelings. It is when they acknowledge their own emotions that children can consider the feelings of others and make sound decisions for themselves. Children of all ages experience feelings of anger and aggression.
You can help your child to manage their emotions by teaching them positive ways to express their feelings and to negotiate for what she/he is trying to communicate while showing respect for others.
A successful outcome for your child while dealing with anger is having them develop self-discipline, sound judgment, as well as learning other techniques to express themselves in more acceptable ways.
The following techniques will help you to manage your child’s anger:
Develop a word list of feelings. It is common for children to have angry outbursts purely because they cannot identify with the correct emotion. Here are some possible feelings that your child may be experiencing and not yet able to express: annoyed, ashamed, embarrassed, worried, scared, jealous, grief, lonely, guilt, overwhelmed, on edge, confused.
Get your child to tell you where they feel anger in their body. What symptoms are they experiencing? Do they have clenched teeth or hands, increased heartbeat, are they getting hot and sweaty? What does anger feel like for them? To help you with this process you can print a worksheet here. This colouring activity is a great way to help you better understand your child’s anger together.
Teach your child calming strategies. Empower your child to be able to manage their anger before it gets out of hand. For example, your child could learn when to walk away from a certain situation, counting to ten, taking deep breaths, visualization of a happy place, or positive self-talk such as; “It’s going to be ok”, “I’m calm now”, “I’m chilled now”.
Teach your child the essentials of problem-solving. If your child becomes aware that there are several possible solutions to a problem, she/he is more likely to spend more time thinking about their options rather than turning to aggressive behavior.
You can download your FREE e-Book: Assisting Your Child To Manage Their Feelings here.
Would you love to be able to have an effective two-way conversation with your child? Do you want to be able to talk to your child and not at your child, and have them listen and respect you? If you answered yes, get your FREE copy of How To Communicate More Effectively With Your Child here.