Aggression can present in many forms and is a common theme of discussion with parents. You may notice, lots of “nero tantrums”, hitting, kicking and biting. Your child may attempt to control you by threats and will sometimes damage property. I meet many parents who find it hard for to understand which results in stress and feelings of hopelessness. Let’s think whats sets it off and three crucial strategies to help redress and achieve some balance.
Why is my child aggressive?
Sometimes, it is simply due to big frustrations. Your child has yet to build the connections is their rational brain for self-control, they are unable to show their feelings in a socially accepted way. Other children may be struggling with developmental trauma or current stressful events such as divorce, parental mental health difficulties, and parental conflict.
Your child may have a specific disorder such as dyslexia, ADHD, Autism and emotional regulation problems. How your child reacts and sees the world will impact how they behave. Unfortunately the environment they live in plays a huge role in shaping their behaviour. However, school, peers, and culture will addition have a role too.
What can I do, three crucial steps:
- Safety and Set appropriate and consistent boundaries
It’s always safety first. Maintaining the physical safety of people and property should always be parents’ top priority. This always takes precedence over doing the attachment. Behavioral rules need to be specific, clear, and phrased in behavioral language that states what the child needs to do.If your child has yet to develop the skills to manage the aggressive behaviour, then you need to help them with that first, seek help if you do not know how to do it. Think about this in your family meetings and ensure there are clear rules and consequences of what expected)
2.Try to stay warm, trusting, positive and use empathy with them.
When our children are aggressive, we want to reject them rather than reject the aggression. In family therapy we call this externalise the problem. Use words such as ” the anger” and “the aggression” will help. Helping your child understand emotions, and reflecting with empathy ensures your child feels safe and secure.
I know it’s hard but it’s really important to build time where you are with them when it’s calm. Set out at least two sessions of special time 10-minute minimum a week. ( adises Carolyn Webster Stratton, The Incredible Years)
3. Remain realistic about your child’s developmental capacity.
Many parents just don’t realize their children are learning about emotions. Some children struggle more than others. I work with children who suffer from working memory difficulties. This puts them at a great disadvantage as they often find it hard to process their parent’s instructions, this often results in negative interactions and big frustrations on both sides. It’s no one’s fault.
Family meetings are an opportunity where feelings are discussed and thought about by everyone. Children can start these from the age of four. This will help them to develop an emotional language and learn how to problem solve in a calm and regulated manner. Go to my free handout at the https://bristolchildparentsupport.co.uk/common-problems-through-childhood/middle-years/
Try one action today to help your child feel safe, loved and secure. With Love Catherine