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How to manage difficult or aggressive behaviour from your child

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How to manage difficult or aggressive behaviour from your child

All children have times when they lash out in anger. There are times when this anger can seem out of control whether it is directed at you or other family members.  

How does it make the parent feel? 

Parents can often feel helpless about their child’s behaviour and don’t know how to tackle this. It is common to feel responsible for your child’s behaviour. Some parents are ashamed to admit they struggle to control their child’s aggression. If you are facing similar issues at home, you may feel like you are walking on eggshells. You may also feel isolated not wanting to tell someone else in case they judge you for not being able to manage your child’s behaviour.  

It is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling and how your child is behaving. Talk to a trusted friend or even your own parents they have dealt with this behaviour before. 

What causes a child to act aggressively?  

It is not always obvious why your child is acting aggressively. Your child may be annoyed about something that is happening in their life, they may be experiencing problems at school, seeking attention, or experiencing hormonal mood swings. Whatever the cause of their behaviour, it may be clear to you that they are struggling to manage their emotions. This can cause parents to feel at a loss on what to do for the best. If you are feeling this, please do not lose confidence in your parenting, as it is natural to feel this way under the circumstances.  

How to manage aggression in your children: 

  1. It is important to set aside some time to find out what they may be struggling with, it might not be easy for them to open up and you may have to take your time approaching them gently to open up. Offer them a book to write about their feelings if they decide they aren’t ready to talk to you yet. Let them know that you love them very much and are there for them but need them to meet you halfway.  You can ask them questions that will help them to explore their anger, like how it makes them feel when they hit that point, how it makes them feel after, etc. 
  2. Feeling angry and upset at times is natural and acceptable and most people do at some point or another, so let your child know this.  Try to acknowledge their feelings but set limits: “I know you feel angry, but I don’t want to see any hitting; biting; shouting or swearing.”  
  3. Keep a diary so you can write down the incidents as there may be a pattern and note down the triggers.  Are there particular events that set your child off? If you start to see when, you can sometimes work out why. 
  4. If children see problems solved with raised voices or fists, they learn to follow suit. If you want to stop a child being violent, you may first have to address what is happening around them, it may be difficult to explore this but if there is conflict in your family life or communication is often through shouting, they may have learned this behaviour. 
  5. Learn how to defuse an angry situation. Lower your voice instead of shouting and look them in the eye.  Talk with and listen to your child when they’re calm. Look at why they might be feeling bad before looking at what they may do to control their behaviour. 
  6. You can’t wave a magic wand and vanish away a child’s unhappy feelings. What you can do is help them learn how to manage what they do about them. So, encourage them to say, “I feel angry/left out/put down”, instead of hitting out. 
  7. It isn’t easy loving or showing affection for a child who is being hurtful. But they need to be shown that they are acceptable. Separate who they are from what they do by saying, “I love you and always will, but I don’t love what you’re doing.” 
  8. Be positive and praise them when they do well. Blaming, shaming, or punishing children can make them feel worse about themselves and so even more aggressive. 

This article was kindly provided by family lives. To view this article in full, visit their site here: https://www.familylives.org.uk/advice/primary/behaviour/challenging-behaviour/  

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