It is never easy to face up to the fact that your child is exhibiting aggressive behaviour. But when you do, it is important to recognise the root cause and take steps to stop the behaviour from defining the personality of your child. We have earlier discussed (https://bit.ly/3AaWCrf )where aggressive behaviour comes from, now let us see what are the ways to deal with it.
Explain to your child that aggressive behaviour is unacceptable and it is certainly not okay. Explain to them how aggressive behaviour affects other people’s feelings and emotions. Also explain to them how the other person has feelings just like your child does.
Attach consequences to their aggressive behaviour and be consistent in following through. By doing this, you will be attaching a consequence to the behaviour that is undesirable. For example, if you tell them that aggression will not get them what they want, make sure you don’t cave in and give them what they want anyway.
As you keep attaching these consequences to their behaviour consistently, they will automatically learn that it’s unacceptable and useless to be violent or aggressive.
Try suggesting alternative ways of exhibiting their emotions without invalidating the emotions that are leading to the aggressive behaviour.
For example, you can suggest that every time they feel angry, they should try to do some activity to calm themselves down, for example, drawing out their emotion, writing down how they feel and why they feel that way, playing with their toys or distracting themselves in any other way they please for a while.
Then, once they’ve understood why they feel how they feel, they can discuss it in a conversation with the person it concerns and decide what needs to be changed.
You could of course offer to be their sounding board where they can let off steam and understand the world better.
Discuss how you would handle aggressive behaviour in a way that they would understand, and then ask them for their suggestions on how they would like to handle it.
Ask them how they would communicate with a person they feel angry with without being aggressive, violent or hurtful, while still finding a solution to the problem.
This makes your child better prepared to handle these situations alone in the best possible way while taking responsibility for their own actions.
Encouragement is a much better teacher than discouragement or punishment and you should make sure you not only notice, but encourage with enthusiasm every small positive step your child takes.
If you see, your child taking even the tiniest effort to ensure that they don’t react violently when they’re angry or upset with someone, encourage and praise that behaviour.
For example, if you see your child not reacting violently when something happens to anger them, make sure you praise that restraint.
Teach your child to think about the actions they’re going to perform before they perform them.
This will teach your child self-control and self-discipline. It’s also very important to specify the behaviours that are okay for your child to indulge in and the ones that aren’t.
For example, you should tell your child that they can’t shout at people, call them names or hit them no matter what the reason may be.
It’s important to reassure your child that it’s okay for them to be angry, but how they deal with that anger is important and is something they would have to change if they’re being aggressive.
The aim is to get your child to want to behave in a better and more considerate way, rather than behave in the way you want them to behave.
That’s why you shouldn’t just order them around. Rather you need to demonstrate verbally and through your actions, the importance of kindness, self-control, and being understanding of others’ emotions. This is essentially all it takes to control aggressive behaviour. Help your child discover the joy in empathy and kindness and choose non aggressive behaviour so that it becomes their nature. With time and consistent reinforcement and proper modelling of the right behaviour by you, you will soon remember your child’s aggression as an inconsequential but important phase in their lives.