From toddlers to teens, aggressiveness in children can be really tricky to handle — you don’t want to aggravate the situation or make things worse, nor can you let unhelpful behavior go unchecked.
To help you find that much-needed balance, this article will delve right into everything you need to know about aggressiveness in children. Why it’s usually not a cause for concern, and how you can put an end to those temper tantrums with five, simple strategies.
What causes aggressiveness in children?
It’s important not to immediately worry if your child is behaving aggressively. While this can sometimes be a sign of an underlying problem, it usually isn’t. In fact, aggressiveness in children is very common and there are many perfectly legitimate reasons for it.
Firstly, between the ages of around 3-6 years old, ‘aggression’ is a completely normal part of a child’s development. Kicking, hitting, yelling… it’s all to be expected in those early years, as your child learns how to navigate and express new emotions.
That said, looking ahead to around 6-12 years old, you should begin to notice a significant change in how your child processes their anger. Physically lashing out, for example, should usually be a thing of the past from age 12 onward.
If it isn’t, this could potentially be a sign of behavioral conditions like ADHD, OCD, or autism. Again, try not to worry about this too much — there are many other, far more common, explanations for prolonged aggression, like stress and anxiety.
The bottom line here is that anger in children is perfectly normal until it becomes particularly persistent and prolonged. At which point, you should reach out to a medical professional to check whether there’s something at the root of your child’s behavior.
5 strategies to help, support and manage children with aggression
Now you know what might be causing aggressiveness in your child, here are five strategies to help you manage their behavior, moving forward.
1. Talk it out
If your child is behaving aggressively, the first thing you should do is try and talk to them about what’s bothering them. Talking through our problems, no matter how old we are, is always a great way of seeing the bigger picture.
If your child is hesitant or too stressed to talk to you, encourage them to talk to a friend or write in a journal to work through their feelings. However it’s done, getting your child to talk about their anger is one of the best ways of helping them overcome it.
2. Teach alternative coping mechanisms
In children, aggressive behavior is usually the result of frustration, stress, and a general inability to express how they are feeling. That’s why teaching alternative coping mechanisms is an important part of helping them avoid it.
This includes things like redirecting your child’s attention to activities they enjoy, like playing with their favorite toy, or watching a film — anything that will calm them down when things get a little heated.
In older children (12+), listening to relaxing music, meditating, and practicing breathing exercises is a great way of teaching them how to handle their emotions in a healthier and less chaotic way.
You might be tempted to put your child in a “naughty corner” or send them to their room, but this will actually further irritate them. Ideally, you’d like your child to know that anger and aggression is natural, but how they deal with it makes all the difference.
3. Be disciplined
Speaking of naughty corners, disciplining your child for aggressive behavior is the best way of teaching them that it isn’t acceptable. This, of course, doesn’t mean punishing your child whenever they express frustration (that’s completely normal) — but it does mean making it crystal clear that things like punching, kicking, and shouting won’t be tolerated.
Healthy time-outs should be your first port of call. But if you need to go the extra mile, then confiscating technology or taking away other privileges can be an effective strategy to manage your child’s anger. They’ll learn the important lesson that lashing out only makes things worse and that there are other ways of handling difficult situations.
It’s also important to make sure that your discipline is consistent. If shouting at a parent results in time-out one day and the next day goes unnoticed, your child will have good reason to believe that they can ‘get away with’ such behavior, which usually lets it continue.
4. Be quick, clear and provide an immediate response
In line with disciplining your kids, you’ve also got to make sure that you’re quick in any action you take. This means providing an immediate response to their behavior and offering a clear call-to-action your child can act on.
If your five-year-old is banging their head against the wall, it’s your job to put a speedy stop to this. Immediately tell them to stop what they are doing, gently pull them away from the wall, and clearly (but very calmly) explain to your child why their behavior is wrong.
The same applies to teenage kids, too. If they’re shouting at you, tell them right off the bat that they must lower their voice immediately.
The point here is that it’s important to try and curb your child’s aggressiveness as soon as you can. Remember that when you find yourself biting your tongue.
5. Be prepared
If you know that your child’s aggressive behavior is triggered by something specific, get ahead of time and remind them that anger is not the way to handle whatever that situation might be.
If it’s going shopping, tell them that there’s no need to feel distressed by this and that an angry tantrum will only make the experience worse for them — not better. It’s worth trying to get to the root of the problem, too, so you can dispel some of your child’s concerns and help them overcome certain triggers.
You’ve got this…
Dealing with aggressiveness in children is never easy. But if you stay disciplined, be consistent, and help your child develop new strategies to rise above their rage, you should quickly begin to see that things will soon calm down.
Remember, though, you’re never alone — if you’re concerned that things are getting a little too out of hand, it’s always best to reach out for medical advice to be on the safe side.
Link/cite this page
If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.
Link will appear as Worried About Your Child’s Aggressive Behavior? These 5 Strategies Are Proven to Help with Aggressiveness In Children: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 6, 2020