Aggressive and challenging behavior in children

Published on August 2, 2019


During my interaction with preschool teachers and young parents, I come across this most frequent question – ‘ How to handle aggressive and challenging behavior in children ‘. This invites me to share, why children behave aggressively and how to handle this behavior…?

Aggressive and challenging behaviors seem to be on the increase. It is important to bear in mind that there are several factors that contribute to aggressive behavior. It is sad that many a time, the turbulent environments in which many children grow up have a huge role to play.

Aggression could take the form of emotional outbursts, temper tantrums, shouting, screaming and so on. Some of the other causes for aggression in children:

Mood Swings:-  losing self-control, Impulsiveness, Depression, Irritability, Sleep disorders

State of mind:- Distrust, Suspicion, Fear, Emotional insecurities, Anger.

Frustration:- Cognitive impairment, lack of communication, Inability to verbalize feelings, difficulty in dealing with anxiety.

Impulsivity:- Disruptive behavior disorders such as ADHD, Autism etc.

Let’s look at few effective responses to address aggressive behavior. These are general strategies that address only the aggression (in absence of any other special or additional needs of the child)

  • However difficult it might seem, Staying calm is the first step to gaining control of any situation.
  • Stand firmly, observe the child and stay in control
  • Don’t say or do anything. The child will calm down with time. If this happens within few minutes, continue what you were doing without getting into any conversation with the child.
  • Don’t talk to the child or advise until you know that child is ready to listen.
  • If you find that the child tends to calm down when directed to a different and quiet room, please do so.
  • Maintain a log of the behavior.
  • As teachers, talk to the parent and make them aware of the situation/incident. However please do not offer opinions, conclusions or advice, but only provide facts.

                                                                                                                                                                Author: Zehra Kaneez

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