When children use aggressive behaviors with siblings, peers, parents and teachers, parents have a difficult time maintaining a safe and happy household, and childcare providers and teachers have a difficult time doing their job.
Aggressive children tend to use aggression as their first way of responding to most situations, and as a result, their peers tend to dislike them. Children who are aggressive at school are typically the first children to be blamed when a problem occurs and are also more likely to have a negative reputation among teachers. In addition, aggressive children tend to miss out on opportunities for learning and playing with others due to the threat that they can be to other children.
Aggression in itself is not a diagnosable disorder, but it is included as a symptom of a variety of disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, and many others.
When aggression has gotten out of control and the child is experiencing difficulties in friendships and is getting into trouble at home and school or daycare, a counselor who understands some of the reasons for the aggression may be of help to the child and the child’s parents.
The overuse of aggression could be a sign of a small problem related to lack of information and skills, or a sign of a larger problem that could grow into a more severe diagnosis in the future. In order to treat aggressive behaviors appropriately, it is essential that the root cause of the aggressive behavior be identified first.
If aggression occurs in the classroom, the teacher may use a behavior chart or incentive program to punish aggressive behavior and reward positive behaviors. However, if the influence for the aggressive behavior remains unchanged, these methods to manage aggressive behaviors may be ineffective.
Some children may act aggressively because of life circumstances, such as experiencing domestic violence or playing violent video games. Other children may act aggressively because of a lack of skills in emotion regulation and self-control. If the child acts aggressively due to role modeling of aggressive behavior and excessive exposure to violent content, behavior charts will likely not stop the aggressive behavior. If the child acts out aggressively because of a lack of self-control, punishing the behaviors doesn’t necessarily lead to self-control, so the behavior may not stop.
When traditional behavior management techniques in the home or classroom have failed, it may be time to involve a mental health professional. At Encompass Mental Health, I work directly with parents, child care providers, teachers and other important people involved in the child’s life to help identify the reason or reasons behind the aggression first, and then to come up with solutions to help the child learn more appropriate ways of behaving.
Depending on the needs of the child, I may work directly with the child, the parents, or the caregiving/education team to ensure that everyone involved understands how to help the child to learn to use non-aggressive interactions with siblings, peers, parents and teachers.
Call (605) 275-0009 to schedule an appointment with me today to put a stop to that challenging, aggressive behavior as soon as possible.