7 Tips for Avoiding Aggression in Children

March 6, 2018
Severe tantrums and other aggressive behavior are cries for help from children that are struggling.

There are many ways of avoiding aggression in children. But the key to all of them is knowing what constitutes aggressive behavior, and why parents must never lose control in the face of a tantrum or fit of rage.

Much more than a simple display of anger, aggression in children can be a sign of underlying frustration, fear or sadness. As parents, we should be aware of our children’s emotional needs and give them the healthy and supportive environment that they need in order to thrive.

To determine whether your child is being aggressive, observe their behavior. For example, if your child deliberately seeks out ways to inflict physical or psychological harm on other children, or even their own parents, this is aggression.

To identify patterns of aggressive behavior in children,  keep in mind that any and all intentionally violent acts are signs of an issue that requires attention. This includes kicking, scratching, biting, screaming or foul language.

There are many ways to help a child to manage their aggressive behavior. Here are seven tips for avoiding aggression in children:

7 tips to channel aggression in children

1. Build an atmosphere of trust

Try to open up channels of communication with your child. Build an atmosphere of trust and respect at home. This way, your child will have the confidence to express their feelings freely, without fear of criticism or punishment.

This familiar and reassuring environment will allow your child to get their emotions off their chest. Feeling truly understood and listened to in the safety of their own home will help your child leave their aggressive patterns of behavior behind.

If your child begins to express their feelings, take advantage of the chance to explain that it is perfectly normal to get annoyed or feel angry sometimes. Also point out that violence does nothing to resolve problems.

Reinforce your children’s values and strengths. Teach them to express their feelings in an appropriate manner. Praising them for their achievements is a way to help them feel successful.

7 Tips for Avoiding Aggression in Children

2. Find the source of their aggression

In order to root out aggression, start by watching how your little one behaves.

The idea here is to identify the causes of your child‘s aggressive behavior. You may be surprised at what you discover. A common cause of aggression in children is low self-esteem.

You might also find out that your child is reacting to the arrival of a little brother or sister. Feeling unloved or un-cared for, they may be trying to get your attention in all the wrong ways.

3. Act promptly to address aggressive behavior

When children’s aggression affects those around them, especially other children, intervention is necessary. At this point, you must reach out to your child. Otherwise, their aggressive behavior could cause them to be rejected by their peers in the future.

Helping your child to channel their emotions in a healthy way will allow them to exchange violence for more rational behavior. Don’t underestimate your child: waiting for the problem to get worse will only make it more difficult to take action.

Intervene as soon as you see your child getting frustrated or angry. If you notice one of your children hitting or biting their siblings, other children or even an adult, put a stop to their behavior immediately. Make your child see that this does not help.

4. Find a way to make success part of every day

We all know the power that words have over us. A kind word can build up confidence just as a cruel remark can undermine it. Imagine what raising children with emotional intelligence can do for their future prospects.

To help address aggression in children, therefore, reinforce positive values. Teach your child to express their emotions in an appropriate way. Praise them for their achievements. Make them feel successful.

One good way to do this is to praise your child for the effort they put in and the results. When your child makes their bed in the morning, tell them what a good job they have done.

Let them know that you appreciate their work. If there is something that you need to correct, take the chance to do it once you have praised their hard work. This way, your child will be more receptive to your feedback.

5. Be a role model for your child

Parents should never be aggressive towards their children. If you shout at your child, they are less likely to understand what you need to say.

Shouting or harsh words will just make children defensive. Worst of all, when children grow up in an environment like this, they assume that this is the right way to express themselves.

If children see their parents shouting instead of talking, and if every argument ends with someone slamming their fist on the table or storming out, this is exactly what they will imitate in the future, when they lose their patience.

For this reason, it is vital to practice what you preach as a parent, in order to make your expectations of your child very clear.

7 Tips for Avoiding Aggression in Children

6. Stay calm in the face of aggressive episodes

When your child is aggressive to a family member or friend, stop them and separate them from that person. A little alone time will help children to reflect on what they have done.

If your child is violent towards you, their parent, leave them alone. Keep in mind that this is an explosion of pent-up emotion. Reasoning with them will not help until they have calmed down.

Once the moment has passed, talk to the child and explain that their behavior was not acceptable. Give them time alone in their room to reflect. If corrective measures are necessary, put them into practice as soon as possible.

7. See a specialist if you need help

If you have applied these recommendations and your child is still behaving aggressively, it is time to speak to a child therapist. This professional will be able to identify the cause of the aggressive behavior and help your family to address it.