How To Control An Aggressive Child
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash
Children are no different when it comes to expressing emotions. In fact, they manifest their feelings of happiness, sadness, excitement, and anger openly and immediately. However, this does not mean that their emotions are not layered and sometimes their actions are due to a number of underlying reasons. Child aggression is one such manifestation of anger that can be due to various causes.
It is not rare to see a child belligerently hitting, slapping, screaming and kicking. While most parents find this kind of behaviour extremely troubling, it should be noted that such behaviour is not uncommon and can be dealt with over time.
Step 1 – Identify the triggers
First of all, it is important to know what causes the child to be aggressive. On close observation, it will be easy to recognize the root of their anger. It could be because the child is not allowed to do what he wants, or because he has to share space and things with other children, or because he is uncomfortable in a particular surrounding. The reasons could be highly varied, however narrowing down on what makes the child act violently will help you solve almost half of the problem.
Step 2 – Corrective action
Once you have an idea of the triggers, you can talk your child through to deal with the situation differently. Prepare the child by pre planning, play, storytelling and activities to explain to him that there are other politer ways to express his feelings. For instances, you can start calling him out to stop his play ten minutes before you actually intend to. This helps him prepare and understand that he has to wrap up soon and will not lead to anger when the time is up. Similarly, prep the child to share his toys before getting in contact with other children to avoid a clash.
Understanding the child’s psychology
Children are not exactly bad persons. The aggression arises out of frustration or confusion or not being able to express their anger in any other way. It is imperative to understand this psychology and not reprimand the child horrifically for being aggressive. The child is jostled and battling the emotion internally and thus, needs a calm, supportive and helpful hand to guide him through this confused mess.
Most of the time, when a child acts aggressively, his immediate reaction is to not listen to the adult and rebel further. It is here, that as a parent or care taker, you need to stop pushing the child further and making yourself clear that this sort of behaviour is unwarranted without alienating him.
How to stop aggression immediately?
The best possible way to just stop your child from hitting and kicking is to carry the child away from that surrounding. The immediate cut off from the cause of anger will help the child calm down. Hold him or carry him, and talk to him along as you steer him away. Ask him why he is behaving this way because he is otherwise a good child. Let him know that you understand that something is bothering him and let him have some time on his own to soothe his nerves.
Some children may want to be left alone for a while, whereas others need to be distracted with another activity or task.
Aggression towards other children
When your child is aggressive towards another child, separate the children to ensure there is no more violence. Call the care taker of the other child and make sure to listen to both the sides of the story. Explain that hitting a friend is not a good idea at all and once the child has calmed down ask him to apologize to his friend.
Also, make sure that other corrective measures, such as, remaking the blocks that the children have broken in the fight, or sharing a toy is encouraged. This will help the child take ownership and responsibility for his actions.
Constant, long term solutions
Change in behaviour of your child will not occur over night. You will have to make a consistent effort to talk and explain to him whenever you see any of the triggers that may entice violent behaviour.
- Check your behaviour
Be sure that your behaviour should also be a reflection of your own teachings. Acting violently or punishing your child by hitting him, justifies being aggressive and the child will only follow suit.
Also, show the child how to react when you are frustrated. Screaming or acting aggressively in front of the child when you are angry is a bad influence on him.
Talking to your child and helping him express his feelings in other ways is also a good way to curb aggression. Let him know that talking it out is a better than kicking and biting.
- Run, dance and play
Children also need other avenues to release their pent up energy. Very often aggression is also a cause of boredom and lack of interesting things to do. Make sure you plan an activity once in a day or two, or let the child run and play in open spaces. This helps to keep the kid active and vent out his vigour through other channels.
- Give attention and love
Aggression also sometimes comes to the fore, when children find it hard to stay connected to their loved ones. Watch out for signs when the child wants a hug or wants to hang out with you for a longer time. They need physical and emotional contact, and sometimes when we tend to get busy and ignore this need, the child resorts to ways to attract attention. Aggression then becomes one of his tools to grab eyeballs and ensure that there is communication with the care taker in at least some way.
All those around who are involved in the upbringing of your child, should also be on the same page and be consistent in discouraging aggressive behaviour.
- Praise the child
When the child does show refrain or steers away from being aggressive, make sure to praise the child. This will help him consolidate his belief in being non-violent and he will try to be gentle at all times to earn compliments.
Could there be any medical reasons?
If the aggressive behaviour is consistent and highly volatile it could be a medical condition. If the child is unable to grow out of the aggressive moods with time, the symptoms could match that of autism and ADHD. In such cases, going to a doctor and seeking medical help is advisable.
Children go through a series of phases while growing up and it is imperative to handle each phase with care, love and yet, be firm when the child misbehaves and turns violent. Aggression in children is quite common, and each child will react and learn in different ways. However, they do eventually grow out of it, if checked and corrected in the right ways.
Tasneem Sariya is a freelance blogger and a stay-at-home mother. She holds a degree in Geography and is an ex-Google employee. She enjoys traveling, reading and writing.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store