How to manage disciplinary issues or aggression in kids? Expert offers tips

Feb 20, 2023 10:40 AM IST

Check out some expert-approved ways to effectively manage disciplinary issues and aggression in kids, so you can feel more confident and equipped to support your child.

As children mature and become more self-aware, their brains undergo a process of information processing and storage that is integral to their development. This stage typically occurs between 18 months and three years of age. During this time, children may still be learning to manage their emotions, leading to occasional outbursts of frustration that may involve hitting or biting. It is important for parents and caregivers to provide guidance and support during this stage to help children learn to express their emotions in a more positive manner. By teaching children healthy coping strategies, parents and caregivers can help them develop important skills for managing their emotions throughout their lives.

As a child's behavior can have a significant impact on their social, emotional, and academic development, it's crucial to address these issues promptly and effectively. (Mick Haupt on Unsplash)
As a child's behavior can have a significant impact on their social, emotional, and academic development, it's crucial to address these issues promptly and effectively. (Mick Haupt on Unsplash)

(Also read: Tips for parents to manage anger issues or temper tantrums in kids )

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Preeti Bandary, parenting expert and the co-founder of Little Elly, shared with HT Lifestyle, "Preschool children with limited language skills may express anger through aggression, which is a typical aspect of their development. In contrast, older children may vocalize their anger, but still struggle to regulate their emotions and display aggressive behaviour. During the pre-schooling stage, children are very eager to behave autonomously to find more commonalities between them and their caregivers, who are their parents and teachers. They show that they want to be heard and felt as important as they perceive the adults to be. And if not handled with proper care and attention, it can lead to the child becoming aggressive. This defence mechanism stems from the insecurity of not feeling important or otherwise ignored."

Talking about aggressive behaviour in children, she explained, "When children display aggressive behaviour, it may be a sign of underlying anger or frustration that we may not fully comprehend. Responding to such behaviour with consistent, gentle consequences and teaching children new ways to regulate their emotions can help reduce aggression. Unfortunately, many adult caregivers rely on traditional methods of discipline that often do little to address the root cause of the behaviour, leading to continued aggression. It's important for caregivers to recognize the potential sources of children's aggression and respond with effective strategies to promote positive behaviour."

"Children's warm and calm behaviour can be heartwarming, but challenging behaviours can also be difficult to handle. It is important to support every child's emotional well-being, as some children may require additional assistance due to their parents' lack of understanding. In order to help their children feel safe and be able to express themselves in a healthy manner, adults can take appropriate measures to prevent such behaviour. Preschools specifically play an integral part in helping parents understand the child's psychology and in shaping and moulding a toddler’s mind," says Preeti.

She further shared some suggestions as to how to deal with an aggressive child:

● Caretakers and teachers should note events before, during, and after aggression. Determine what triggered it, who the victim was, the behaviour, where it occurred, and what stopped it.

● Whether it's manners, chores, routines, or how you interact with others, please be patient, firm, direct, and consistent in your instructions and requests. Preschoolers will learn how to manage their emotions and relationships through this.

● Instead of only using negative language, positively reinforce desired behaviours and teach children alternatives. Encourage them to use their words instead of simply telling them to "stop it". By doing so, children will learn to manage their anger and behaviour better in the future.

● Be a good example to children. Conflict resolution and communication are key elements of any child's positive social skills development.

● Establish routines that include frequent reminders about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. For instance, reminding your toddler not to push her way into line if you take her to the park is important.

● Ensure that rules and limits are clearly communicated and age-appropriate. Ensure that children understand these concepts on a daily basis. Make sure that rules are observed, monitored, and responded to consistently.

● Include these children in the treatment of a child who has been injured by them. They will be able to develop empathy for others and understand the pain that their actions can cause.

● Acknowledge and reinforce positive behaviour by praising their kindness and gentleness, rather than simply saying "good job".

“Providing guidance and support to children during their developmental stage is important for managing emotions. Aggressive behaviour may indicate underlying frustration or anger. Respond with effective strategies by positively reinforcing desired behaviour, establishing clear rules and limits, and including children in the treatment of others. Preschools play a key role in moulding a child's mind. It's important for adults to model positive behaviour and conflict resolution skills to help children learn and grow. Remember to be patient, firm, direct, and consistent in instructions and requests. Children will learn how to manage their emotions and relationships through this,” she concludes.

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