Every one of us during our daily trials and tribulations feels stress. Each of us expresses it differently. Some of us become quiet and contemplative while others break down their stress by exercising. There are some more that actually get angry. Everyone who is human would have at some point experienced feelings of anger. But since we are adults, we know how to deal with our anger. However, this isn’t the case with children, especially if they haven’t learned how to express themselves. So this anger manifests in aggression, tantrums or crying spells. But we as parents can try to teach them to deal with this anger. There are two aspects to dealing with aggression in children. One is how to defuse the situation at that point and the other is how to handle the problem holistically. Let us see how this can be done without scarring the child for good.
1. Set boundaries
Spell out to your child what sort of behaviour is not acceptable. Many times children do not understand the word ‘Don’t’. So teach them ways to tell you that they are angry instead of harping on what should not be done. When they do something that is out of bounds, gently remind them that it is unacceptable and then suggest what they do instead. This will help your baby realize what behaviours are acceptable and what aren’t. You will have to wait a while before this begins to have an impact on them as continuous reinforcing of acceptable behaviours in the place of unacceptable ones is something that will come with practice.
2. Distract them
Sometimes all it takes to dissolve a tantrum is some quick thinking and creativity. While this isn’t altogether considered escaping the situation, it gives time for a much-needed breather for all parties involved. Take them for a walk or give a timeout when things get too heated up. It will help calm down their anger after which they are sure to be reasonable. Sometimes this won’t work especially if they are being aggressive about a need of theirs in a public place. In which case, very quietly tell your child in a firm voice that you will deal with it later. They may not listen right away but once they realize that you mean it, they will soon accept it and let go.
3. Deal with Anger
Sometimes when you realize that the tantrums are happening too frequently, you should prepare yourself a discussion on what is troubling your child. Keep the conversation about incidents without branding or labeling your little one in any way. There is a good chance that something might be bothering them which they are struggling to express. So teach them how to express their frustration or anger in constructive ways either by resolving the conflict or by talking about it after calming down. Once they know what to do, they may not choose the aggressive path. Anger is usually the base emotion that leads to aggressive behavior and anger usually, has a cause or a trigger. As a parent, you can always try to calmly help your child identify these triggers and fight them proactively.
4. Talk about it when calm
If your child is displaying aggressive behaviour time and again, try to broach the topic with them when they are calm. Try to be open-minded and listen without judging. The key to being a parent that a child goes to when confused, troubled or sad is to suspend judgment. As the years go by, you will take on the role of a friend in addition to a parent. So steer clear of knee-jerk reactions when you are listening to them. Remember that it is a privilege to be confided in by your child and judging them would amount to abusing that privilege. You will get to know the real reasons why they do what they do. In addition to that, you are also teaching a valuable lesson that anything said in a calm and friendly manner will yield fruitful results.
5. Self-control as a quality
Try to develop self-control and delayed gratification as a quality in your child. Unwillingness to wait for something often results in aggression. Don’t pander to their demands too quickly. Instead, teach them to understand why sometimes things get delayed. The more empathetic your child is, the easier it will be for them to understand the opposite point of view. This understanding will make them become much more accepting of situations that seem beyond their control. So teach them to be calm even in situations that are bound to agitate them, making them realize that getting angry will not accomplish things for them.
6. Values around kid
Try to avoid making remarks about how tough someone is or how brave someone is in the presence of your child. Never ever indulge in spanking to discipline your child. Children who are punished like that often resort to aggression to feel powerful. Teach your child that strength and bravery can also be practiced quietly with a lot of dignity. Also, emphasize that showing aggression is actually a sign of frustration and weakness. The right values along with the knowledge on what to do and what not to do will help your child become assertive instead of aggressive.
7. Set an example
Any quality that you would like for your child to cultivate, emulate that quality in your personality. Try to keep your temper in check and deal with your temper positively. Watching you control your temper will certainly help your baby follow the same methods as they learn most of their communication by watching you.
In the end, the most important thing you need to remember as a parent is that your child’s aggression is a sign of frustration that calls for patience, kindness, and some understanding from you as a parent. Be gentle when you deal with your child especially when you think they are upset. Help them through this phase without bruising their ego or suppressing their spirit. Chances are that both of you will emerge stronger, closer and victorious.