Anger, aggression and violence are very concerning to parents and caregivers, as well as the community at large, especially when a young child is involved. The recent story of a 5 year old reportedly attacking 3 individuals in Ruckersville, VA was difficult to hear, and alarming. It should be noted, that violent attacks are considered extremely rare among young children.
Did you know one of the most aggressive times in a child’s life is between 2 and 4 years of age? Think about it – toddlers who want a certain toy may push, shove, bite, hit, or kick another child to get it. However, violent outbursts do not necessarily mean the child is overly willful, wild, or bad. It speaks to an inability to cope with strong feelings, communicate needs, or navigate social situations. Meltdowns can also be symptomatic of a difficult home situation. Likewise when an older child continues to exhibit aggressive behavior, such as explosive temper tantrums, physical aggression, fighting, threats or attempts to hurt others, use of weapons, or cruelty toward animals, we must treat the situation seriously. It should not be dismissed as “just a phase they are going through”.
First, we must ask:
Second, we can teach social skills and coping skills. Violent behavior is learned, and often it is learned early in life. But just as children can learn to be violent, they also can learn to be kind-hearted. They can learn constructive ways to solve problems, deal with disagreements, and handle anger. Consider these suggestions:
In dealing with angry children, our actions should be motivated by the need to protect and to reach, not by a desire to punish. Parents and teachers should show a child that they accept his or her feelings, while suggesting other ways to express the feelings.
Information compiled from:
Managing Violent & Explosive Behavior in Young Children, Kit Richert, Ph.D.
Understanding Violent Behavior In Children and Adolescents, No. 55; December 2011