Aggression in children – Which factors lead to behavioural problems?
I have always been intrigued by the subject of child psychology and aggression in children. However, I became more curious regarding the same when I became a mother. The craving for knowledge even increased when my son turned a year and a half. It is the age where a child is vulnerable to adopt all bad habits, bad temperament and reluctance in eating.
The nastiest part of this situation is that mothers or both the parents usually get irritated soon with the annoying behaviour of the children that ultimately leads to hitting the child. Now what? It aggravates the condition and the vicious circle of violence and aggression goes on and on. Yes! Now You have fallen into a deep ditch of hostility.
The above situation is not my imagination or some pictures that I have drawn to scare you. It is the condition that I have experienced. My and I noticed this behavioural change in our toddler, which provoked me to go deep into the problem to find the solution.
Give me a child and I’ll shape him into anything – B.F.Skinner
A quote by the well known American psychologist, behaviourist and social worker says it all. A simple quote indicates that a child is like a lump of clay while parents are the potter. It is the time when parents can direct their children towards a better path in life.
However, to teach him a good lesson of life, it is first necessary to delete the pessimistic characteristics in him or her. If we talk about anger or excessive aggression in children, please do not overlook this setback because overlooking behavioural problems in children can cause more damage.
Reasons for excessive anger in kids
Spousal abuse – Alcohol is common in this case (children imitate aggression)
Children learn more from what you are than what you teach – W.E.B Du Bois.
W.E.B. Du Bois, the American writer and social activist, has framed the truth of child psychology in this quote. Children cannot judge what is right and what is wrong.
They are inclined to follow what happens in their surroundings. In many families, violence or spousal abuse is quite common. Alcoholism is a common root cause of disturbance and resentment in families, which strongly influences a child’s behaviour.
They follow or imitate the characteristics that parents show. Since a child is helpless in judging to do’s and don’t’s, he or she absorbs the hatred existing around him.
Many parents rather short-tempered parents believe that hitting a child can bring him on the right track. Careful folks! Careful! It can drop the whole plan upside down. Hitting a child on small faults makes a child more stubborn, aggressive and disobedient. So, I’m sure this is not the solution.
Remember, sexual assault do come under this category. Teenagers may understand what wrong has occurred with them, but for a kid between two to twelve years, this wrongdoing is not easy to comprehend. The negative feeling, chaos and uneasiness lead a child to depression, frustration and anger.
I was still unable to get the answer to the anger of my two-year-old. So, I decided to read more about this problem because neither domestic violence nor hitting the child was the basis of this behaviour.
Lack of attention
Many times parents ignore the crying, shouting or destructive activities of a child. They assume it to be childish doings. However, this might not always right and can lead to severe issues. Children usually conduct such activities to seek the attention of their parents.
It is a very significant factor behind a child’s aggressive behaviour that parents ignore. Although children cannot understand what’s going on in the home, they can sense the cold war between them. If we think for a moment, we too feel depressed and gloomy when cold wars run in the family.
So, they are little children who are unable to understand what is going on between family members. This unresolved conflict or chaotic situation enhances irritation and aggression in children. Although there is no violence and physical torture involved in this situation, it leaves an impact on a child’s psychology.
The reason behind this negative impact is that the child is deprived of happiness and liveliness that must prevail in the home. It makes a child not only aggressive but slowly vanishes the softness and emotions inside him or her.
Sometimes parents are unaware of the fact that their child is suffering from some psychiatric disorder. These can be
- Anxiety disorder – Responding to certain situations with fear, dismay or nervousness
- Attention-deficit /hyperactivity disorder –It is an inability to focus or concentrate. These children get impulsive very soon.
- Disruptive Behavior Disorder (DBD )– Disruptive Behaviour Disorders are those in which children are unable to control their emotions and behaviour. Although children often show mood swings or aggression in their behaviour but the effects of DBD’s are more intense and prolonged.
- Learning and communication disorders – In this case, children can visualise the written letters but unable to recognise them. This inability to read, understand and learn things make children more aggressive.
How does a child behave in aggression?
Aggression in children affects parents, teachers and their schoolmates to a great extent. It is defined as a repeated behaviour of physical violence that includes throwing objects, shoving, assault, breaking articles, giving threatening looks etc., usually targeting siblings or parents.
In brief, the categories of aggression in children are
Shouting, insulting, running away from home, lying on the floor etc.
Kicking, hitting, slapping, pushing, breaking objects etc.
Stealing valuables, selling possessions of others. It is more visible in teenagers or children between 12 – 18 years of age. Psychological and physical aggression are more visible in children below 12 years.
As I told you in the beginning that my toddler showed similar characteristics, the research helped a lot in knowing the root cause of the problem.
My child needed my attention! Indeed, I questioned myself in realisation and guilt, ‘what was I doing?’ As a working woman, my work and business used to drain me so much that I preferred to rest and isolate myself more than hugging my kid.
This situation was not only enhancing the aggression of my child, but it was also breaking a bond of love and affection between us. Although my problem was not that intense, aggressive behaviour can surely ruin your child’s overall personality as a whole.
Each day of our lives, we make deposits in the memory banks of our children – Charles R Swindoll.
Charles Rozell Swindoll, founder of insight for living, an author, preacher and teacher has revealed a simple truth of child psychology through this quote. It is thus necessary to create a constructive, lively, disciplined and loving environment around them.
News reports on aggression in children – How children have created harm to others
The New York Times report of 2019 throws light on the fact that Dr Lorber and his colleagues looked at 477 children who showed aggression in their behaviour. Most of the children that Dr Lober looked at were of six to twenty-four months of age. The actions of these kids included hitting, pulling hair, kicking and even hurting the animals.
Some of the cases came into the light where the aggression in kids leads to hitting younger siblings who were not even a year old. Dr Lober said that this behaviour is quite common in children. However, parents have to set limits or be strict with these children.
Overlooking the aggression in children could create more harm to them as well as their families in future. Furthermore, these children need special attention, care and a strategic approach from parents to get rid of the aggressive behaviour.
A case of Bright Land School back in 2018 showed how atrocious is the consequence of aggression in children. A senior girl at school stabbed a class one student in the toilet. While stabbing him, she told him that it would close the school early.
Disturbing! According to a 2018 report of The Times of India, 15% of 7000 children reported being the victim of a dissociative disorder called Hysteria ( a problem where emotions like anger, fear, excitement etc. are uncontrollable).
When at the clinic, doctors spoke to the child to identify the trigger, it came out that performance pressure, inability to understand the subject, exams pressure and humiliation by teachers fill in the stress and aggression in children.
In addition to the above, a CBS news report also throws light on the fact that children who are spanked often in their childhood by parents are more aggressive as compared to those who aren’t.
The report also highlighted the information that those who are spanked twice a week remain aggressive for longer. One of the imperative studies by paediatrics that came to light was that children who are beaten by dads might also face language and vocabulary problems in future.
Remedies – What should I do? Ten ways to resolve aggression in children
Many parents neglect the unusual behavioural patterns of their children. Monitoring a child’s activity is the foremost step towards solving the problem of aggression in children. When parents overlook this kind of behaviour, they invite more trouble to their and their kid’s life.
Thus, it is necessary to observe the changing behaviour of your kid and act patiently instead of hitting him or ignoring him out of frustration.
Analysis of a problem
Now is the time to analyse the problem. Ask yourself ‘is my kid suffering from some problem? Why is he reacting awkwardly? Is he hiding something from me? Am I missing something necessary for his development? These questions will lead you to the crux of the problem. Once you are sure of any of the answers to the above question, you must look forward to a remedial measure.
The right approach can make things fall back to the right place.
Use the magic of words
Things spoken in love always become reality – Amy Neftzger
Close your eyes and think when your parents or any dear one has supported you through words. Sometimes just by saying ‘I am with you, no matter what does wonders. Isn’t it?
Your calm, sweet and soft words will act as a tranquillizer for your little one. Maybe the word therapy does not work immediately, but with time, it becomes effective.
Make your child understand the situation of another person.
Many times your child burst out of anger when the other person fails to fulfil his demands despite promising. The other person may be his father, grandparents or siblings. This situation is quite common, and your toddler feels disheartened.
Now your job is to make him or she understand that the breaking of promise might not be intentional. His dad or granddad might get stuck in work or something. Make him remember, while he was playing yesterday and dad called him, he did not respond, dad did not get angry in return.
Calm your child by diverting him towards other things
Make him busy with other things as soon as you feel, he or she is going to burst. It is the most effective way you can control the anger of your kid.
It not only prevents the destruction in your home but also calms your baby and brings him back to a relaxing state.
You can divert him by showing him toys or take him out on a walk. Please do not take the support of mobile as it makes him addicted to it.
Discuss problems with the kid (counselling is a must)
Now comes the most significant part of this discussion. Often kids and teens are not comfortable in sharing what they are keeping inside the heart. They either feel hesitant in discussing with parents or feel guilty about what they’ve done.
Please note that being friendly with your kid takes him out of any trouble. If you think that his or her problem is intense, you must consult a child psychologist or counsellor to protect your child from falling into the ditch of depression.
Work on the skills they are lacking (Work on the therapies seriously)
Frustration or anger in the children is also the consequence of the inability to do something. There are some psychological difficulties that children have. To name some
Dyslexia – It impacts reading ability thereby causing writing and spelling difficulties
Dyscalculia – The inability to do mathematics
Dyspraxia – It is a DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder) – Affects motor coordination in children and adults.
These problems are not long-lasting if you work seriously on the therapies as directed by the medical practitioner. All you have to do is to be regular, consistent and dedicated to getting the therapies done on time.
We all need fun in life. Right? Humour or joke is a perfect remedy rather than medicine to get rid of sadness, anger or any other pessimistic gesture. Once your little kiddo bursts into laughter, it is difficult for him to return to that anger again. Is it tricky to be a child once more?
Is it that hard to be silly for a while? Why not go back to your childhood and have those innocent conversations all over again? Relive your childhood with your reflection. You will love it. Team up with your kid and learn more about his inner feelings.
Hugs and praises works
We all know that love and affection does wonders and is pertinent to every being on earth. When you become sure that your child is suffering from some psychological problem, you are the first person who can drag him out of the obscurity.
A medical practitioner or a psychologist can diagnose the problem while parents can treat him or her better through their love and encouragement.
Physical work or exercise
Children have enormous energy which is released only when they do some exercise or play some sports. When they don’t play or do exercise, their vigour is released either in the form of aggression or the destruction of homely objects.
It is thus necessary to involve them in physical activities which is equally necessary for their mental and physical development. It not only increases the strength of bones and muscles but also enhances concentration in academic activities.
Make him look in the mirror.
Anger makes a person mad and insensible which also makes him forget how is he looking and in what manner is he behaving. Make your child look into the mirror so that he can understand how awful his expressions are.
It would immediately make him conscious and stop him from shouting and making a mess out of the aggression.
Be a good role model – Practice what you preach.
A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark – Robert A. Heinlein.
The way parents behave puts an impact on a child’s innocent psychology. They believe what they observe. So if you want your child to possess ‘good child’ qualities, your task is to become ‘good parents ‘ first. You have to remember a few things
– Be polite with your spouse.
– Follow a good routine – For instance, early to bed and early to rise
– Worship in front of your child – Highlight religious practices in front of him/her.
– Be kind to other living beings (plants and animals).
These kinds of practices would enhance patience and a soft attitude in your child. He would develop emotions, love, and care not only for his dear ones but also for the other living beings.
My perspective has now got changed regarding parenting and child upbringing. Based on the research and reports that I read, a simple truth came out that a child is an innocent being, who is unaware of the dos and don’ts of life. They are the parents who are supposed to show the right path of sustenance to their children.
They are god’s innocent creations who don’t know what would benefit them and what they should reject. Sometimes, they are incapable of resolving their frustration which leads them to excessive anger.
If parents overlook this behaviour, it could result in bitter experiences and irreparable losses as discussed above.
If you are noticing negative behaviour in your child, don’t hit him or leave him frustrated, considering it a childish obstination.
Instead, try to get more focused on your kid’s daily activities and analyze what is wrong with him or her. Talk to his mates and teachers regarding his performance at cultural activities, academics or sports.
If you think that your child is behaving awkwardly in school or at home, then take immediate steps to tackle the issue.
Many parents are reluctant to take children to psychologists or counsellors because they are not ready to accept the psychological illness of their kids. Please, avoid being socially conscious and miser.
Many parents give preference to the ‘what people would say over child’s mental condition. Is that justified? Your one sensible step could protect your child’s future while an insensible one can ruin it completely.
Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future – John F. Kennedy.
Indeed! Powerful and practical words by America’s 35th president. The quote has highlighted that only a good child upbringing can build a united family, society and nation as a whole. All you have to do is to be true to yourself and your kid. It is a prime responsibility of the parents to get their child out of a swamp of dejection, resentment and loneliness.