How to Identify and Deal With Aggressive Behavior in Children

Traits of aggressive children
It is an obvious matter of concern to any parent whose child displays aggressive behavior. However, rest assured that you are not alone. Aggression in young children is more common than you think, and there are certain simple, but steadfast measures you can take to control it.
Aggressive behavior in children has become quite commonplace now, right from toddlers to preteens. Today, it isn't surprising to see a child dish out a tantrum for something as basic as disliking the color of his lunchbox. And then there are those I-want-it-right-now tantrums that are a cause of major public place embarrassment to any parent. Presents a disturbing picture, doesn't it?

Alongside tantrums, there has also been a surge in violent behavior by young children who resort to physical fights, and end up scratching and biting others. This kind of behavior is not limited to their peers or siblings, it can also be directed at elders, including parents, relatives, and teachers.

What causes aggressive behavior in children? Do parents assume it to be just a phase that will culminate on its own? Or is it more of a personality trait that their child possesses? Let us find some answers.
Identifying an Aggressive Child
Aggressive children, more often than not, seem to display some of the following traits -

> Bullying their peers with verbal and/or physical threats
> Disrupting classes with their argumentativeness
> Being easily provoked into an altercation, especially when things don't go their way
> Finding it difficult to make or maintain friendly relationships
> Smashing things or throwing them at someone while they're angry
> Older children may spread malicious gossip about someone they dislike
Where Does Aggressiveness Stem From?
The origin of aggressive behavior may be a little difficult to single out. It is usually observed, though, that it is a combination of several factors which are -

> Genetic influences
> Unresolved stressful issues
> Trouble coping with change (change in schools, or moving residence)
> Absence of non-aggressive role model(s) to look up to
> Extreme parenting being either -
too strict and controlling
or
too lenient and indulgent
> Conflicts within the family
> Spending time at home or outside with people who display aggressive traits
Effective Steps to Deal with Aggression
Before you begin going through this section, remember that keeping aggressive behavior in check requires consistent hard work through positive reinforcement. Tons of patience will also be a useful virtue to possess.
Arrest the Cause
The very first step would be to identify where the aggression is coming from. Children are excellent at emulating behavior, so the cause has to be in the vicinity of the child. Is he watching violent TV shows? Is she witnessing too many fights within the family? Are his friends too aggressive? Identifying the cause will lead you to put an end to it, and enable you to get on the right track.
Put and End to Physical Punishments
When you physically punish your child, you may assuage the situation, but only temporarily. For your child will see it as a form of retaliation for wrong behavior. The next time he observes someone going against his will, he will also apply the same form of punishment he had undergone. So, you're actually setting of a chain of negative behavior by punishing in the wrong manner.
Tell Them They're Wrong
Typically, a child is not equipped to discern good behavior from bad, and it is up to the parent to point out the differences between the two. The next time your child acts mean with someone, explain how hurtful it is to someone, to be at the receiving end of anger and bullying. Encourage them to put themselves in the victim's position and empathize. Explain how this particular brand of behavior can isolate them, and make them unpopular eventually.
Correct Faulty Actions Immediately
Swing into action at the slightest sign of aggression from your child. If she is trying to grab someone's toy, intervene and request her to politely ask for it, before it gets too violent. If you spot your child hitting or biting someone else, instantly take him away and give him some time to cool off with you. This is when you explain the erroneous behavior, and emphasize on making an apology. The child may not mean his apology initially, but in time, he is sure to understand the errors of his ways.
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Remember to Encourage and Reward Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement has its advantages. Capitalize on them by rewarding good behavior. Just as your child needs an immediate reprimand if she does something offensive, she also needs to instantly be encouraged for goodness. By doing this, you will be surely and steadily pushing your child to understand that kind acts are always appreciated, and don't go unnoticed.
Channel the Child's Energy Correctly
Aggression which stems from frustration and loneliness can be set right by indulging in ample play-time and learning activities. Allow your young child to burn his vast energy reserve by running around, playing catch, or even play indoor games that will stimulate his mental faculties. Group him with others of the same age, and also involve other family members to increase your bonding.
Be Loving, Patient, and Understanding
Aggression which stems from frustration and loneliness can be set right by indulging in ample play-time and learning activities. Allow your young child to burn his vast energy reserve by running around, playing catch, or even play indoor games that will stimulate his mental faculties. Group him with others of the same age, and also involve other family members to increase your bonding.
Keep an Eye on Activities
Monitor what your child watches on TV and the Internet, and take effective measures to refrain her from watching anything unsuitable. Even children's programs these days are riddled with unacceptable content. Also, keep an eye on your child's friends for any signs of misbehavior that your child can imitate.
Seek Help When Required
Aggression may spiral out of control before you know it. And, if you feel unequipped to deal with it, do not hesitate in asking for help from someone you trust; it could be anyone within your circle of friends and family. Furthermore, you also have the option of taking the pediatrician's counsel. Any delay in addressing this matter can have long-lasting repercussions on the way your child deals with anger.
Delaying the course of action in such cases is a common mistake most parents make, expecting aggression to dissipate on its own. Unfortunately, this hardly happens, so it would be wise to take prompt and appropriate action to curb these traits right when they first manifest.
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