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Early warning signs of violent behaviour in children

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Did you know that even preschoolers have been known to act violently? As parents and other adults, people tend to undermine the impact of childhood violence. It is an extremely troubling and complex issue that needs immediate attention. Sometimes, parents are worried to see violent behaviour in children but they expect them to grow out of it as they grow up. However, what they fail to understand is that violent behaviour in children must be handled seriously. So, don’t write it off as “just a phase”.

Common violent behaviours in children

Early warning signs assist parents in identifying children who are at risk of becoming aggressive and addressing their needs before issues worsen. Parents model non-violence by modelling strong problem-solving abilities and speaking with their children. Furthermore, spending time together assists parents in developing loving ties with their children, which reassures youngsters that their parents would do all possible to keep them safe.

violent behaviours in children
Common violent behaviours in children you should not ignore. Image courtesy: Freepik

Violent behaviour in children and adolescents includes a wide range of behaviours:

  • Explosive temper tantrums
  • Physical aggression
  • Fighting
  • Threats or attempts to hurt others (including thoughts of wanting to kill others)
  • Use of weapons
  • Cruelty toward animals
  • Setting fire
  • Intentional destruction of property
  • Vandalism

What could trigger violence in children?

In some circumstances, children lash out because they are irritated by an issue that is too big for them to handle. It could also be because they haven’t learnt to handle their emotions or resolve problems in socially acceptable ways.

In some circumstances, children may be dealing with unique challenges such as stressful life events, emotional control issues, concentration impairments, autism or hyperactivity. Adults may have a tremendous effect in all situations, even when children have been diagnosed with major behaviour problems.

Also Read: Noticing changes in your child’s behaviour? Treat the signs as alarms!

violent children
What triggers violence in children? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to handle aggressive and violent children?

Here are some suggestions for how to cope with aggressive behaviour in youngsters:

1. Recognise the causes of aggressiveness

If a child’s aggression is frequently aimed at his or her parents, child psychologists believe that the children are unable to convey their feelings of helplessness, worry or fury to their parents in an appropriate manner. As a result, they act aggressively and are more prone to strike, shove, kick and shout. The greatest method to assist them is to teach them to express their feelings via words rather than through aggression.

2. Abuse has no justification

Accept no justification for abuse in your home. Put this on a piece of paper and stick it on the fridge. Make “there’s no excuse for abuse” your household’s mantra. Hold your child accountable for her/his aggressive actions, regardless of the explanation. Remember that being verbally provoked is neither an excuse for abuse nor a justification for a violent response. The bottomline is that there is no excuse for abuse, ever!

Also Read: These psychiatrist-approved tips will help you overcome the trauma of domestic violence

3. Help them bring out their creative side

Encourage youngsters to pursue hobbies such as sketching, cycling, swimming and reading. This will assist the children in redirecting their thoughts away from anger or other undesirable emotions. Kids can express their rage by stomping their feet, sprinting, cycling, beating on clay or even dancing. Extracurricular activities are an excellent method to maintain a cheerful and pleasant attitude.

violent behaviour in children
Ways to handle violent behaviour in children. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Help them control their anger with linguistics

Parents should provide their children with verbal alternatives to their wrath, such as counting backwards from one hundred to one. Sing loudly and run about the home until they can control their emotions. Read aloud to them until they realise what is troubling them. Parents should have one-on-one conversations with their children at a young age. This will enable them to form a deeper bond with their children, who will feel more at ease with communicating their emotions.

Also Read: Mental health disorders in kids: Know warning signs you must watch

5. Keep children away from violent shows

Children who are exposed to aggressive or violent behaviour on television or computer games or by their parents at home, are more likely to be aggressive. Limit your child’s exposure to these shows if he or she is persistently violent. Choose storybooks and TV programmes that promote compassion, fun and good values to reinforce the message. Parents should also be mindful of their behaviour towards their relationships. Any unpleasant behaviour displayed by the parents is easily replicated by children.

Humans are not born with programming that pushes them to react negatively to the world. We all have the ability to be aggressive. Whether or not we do it is determined by our perception of the world. So, make sure your kid is not suffering from an underlying issue that may be triggering the violent behaviour.

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