Aggression in children, as in adults, is an expression of anger, frustration, and helplessness. These are feelings to which every person has a right. However, their expression mustn’t cause harm to others. The role of adults is to teach children to express their emotions in a socially acceptable way.
Aggression in children and adolescents, both physical and verbal, is a common phenomenon that adults cannot always cope with. This is not surprising, because sometimes people can’t even control their anger.
Expressing emotions is not an easy art. It is not taught at school, and not everyone has had the opportunity to study it at home. But, of course, it is worth equipping our children with such a skill, even if it requires a lot of work, including on their own emotions.
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Causes of occurrence
According to some scientists, aggression is inherent in our genes. In the course of evolution, it has developed as an instrument of influence, thanks to which the stronger individuals of this species can subdue the weaker ones. Problems with aggression arose after the creation of societies in which certain behavior was no longer acceptable.
Observation of aggression in preschool children, however, shows that, despite a possible genetic predisposition, the expression of emotions is a learned skill.
Aggression is a form of expression of anger or rage in children who do not have other behaviors and who lack the boundaries of appropriate behavior. Already at the age of several years, children discover that crying, screaming, stomping, or destroying toys allow them to achieve their goals (for example, to attract the attention of parents to themselves, to make them turn on their favorite fairy tale). Children quickly notice that this is how adults solve their problems. They learn to behave aggressively by watching parents quarreling, fights between older children, watching violent films, or playing computer games that demonstrate violence.
Causes of anger and aggression in children
Aggression – in children and adults is born because of unsatisfied important needs. A child may get upset, for example, when:
- he (she) does not feel safe (for example, at home, where quarrels between parents constantly occur),
- parents are concerned about their problems and do not pay enough attention and love to them,
- educators (at home or school) make high demands on him (her), which he (she) is not able to fulfill,
- can’t cope with new situations (for example, the appearance of brothers and sisters, moving, parents’ divorce).
The most important thing to do to control a child’s aggression is to find out the reason for his anger. Only by knowing this, it is possible to respond adequately to the needs of our child.
How do cope with aggression in children?
Children are not able to solve most of their problems on their own. The task of adults is to understand them and, as far as possible, meet these needs. Sometimes children’s frustrations (for example, when they face violence from older peers at school) require intervention, sometimes it is necessary to explain that not all desires can be satisfied (for example, when a child wants an expensive toy), to show alternative options. In no case should children be left alone with complex emotions, because they do not yet know how to cope with them?
When a child behaves aggressively, adults should not punish him, because by doing so they deprive him of the right to be angry and helpless. Over time, the child will learn to suppress his self-expression but will find another way out for him, for example, in the form of self-aggression. The task is to explain to the child that anger is one of the inevitable human emotions, and it is not anger that is undesirable, but certain ways of expressing it. At the same time, they should show alternative ways of expressing complex emotions.
Learning to express emotions
How do act so that children acquire the skill of the desired way of expressing anger or rage?
Teach children to name emotions, and explain in what situations they can manifest themselves and why.
Explain that aggression hurts other people, so emotions should be expressed in a way that does not cause them pain or suffering.
Let’s set the rules – what you can do in anger (for example, throw a pillow, tear a piece of paper, say a “magic” word out loud) and what you can’t do. Set a good example for children by showing them how to deal with anger. Remember that a fit of anger is not the best time to learn. If a child behaves aggressively, do not respond with anger – this is the worst possible example. Leave them alone (of course, in a safe place) so that they cool down, and think about their behavior. Only after they calm down should you start talking about what happened.
Learning to express emotions is not an easy task (especially if you are experiencing difficulties with it), it takes time and a lot of patience. But it’s worth the effort because it will bear fruit in the adult life of the child – it will allow him to cope better with difficult situations and form a positive image of himself.
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