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Handling Aggression in Your Child

An aggressive child can be a bit of a challenge for almost any parent. When a child is very young, he may be start with a bit of biting or pushing. By the time he has reached the tween years, he may be bullying, hitting, or starting fights when he gets angry. As a parent, it's important to determine where the aggression is originating from and learn how you can help your child control it.

Understanding Aggression in Children

While there is no one particular issue that can be definitively defined as the cause of aggressive behavior in children, there are some factors that are believed to contribute to such behavior. Some kids who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) may be aggressive, as well as can children who lack effective communication skills. Researchers also believe that spanking children later may lead to aggressive behavior. Regardless of why a child is aggressive, it is important to try to find a way to reduce or eliminate the behavior.

Tips for Parents with Aggressive Children

Discuss your child's aggression with him and try to find out why he act out. At the same time, offer him alternative ways for dealing with anger. Anger is a normal emotion, but it is what we do with that anger that really matters. Teach your child healthy ways to calm down and channel his anger. You can try teaching your child journaling, talking, breathing exercises, and other ways to redirect his anger.

  • Avoid spanking or other aggressive methods of punishment. This will likely only teach your child to use aggressive behavior when he gets angry. Parents who demonstrate appropriate behavior themselves see more success when trying to reduce aggression in children.
  • Focus on using positive reinforcement to get your child to deal with anger in a healthy manner. Parents can easily do this by using a variety of helpful tools, such as behavior charts for kids and behavior reflection sheets. Reward your child for non-aggressive behavior and provide positive feedback whenever he handles anger in a non-aggressive way.
  • Speak with your doctor to get advice on the best way to address aggression that is related to ODD, ADHD, or another medical condition. You should also see a doctor, or look into family counseling, if your aggressive child has an ongoing aggression habit that you are having difficulty getting under control or that becomes dangerous.

Communication counts. Having good communication skills is the most effective way to deal with an aggressive child, or anger in general, in a healthy manner. Focus on teaching your child to relax and then verbally communicate his feelings. Parents that are consistent and who use positive reinforcement are most likely to be successful at getting a handle on their child's aggression.