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Children's Aggression and Fighting

Published February 06, 2008        by Nicole

Fighting usually centers on wanting to have a baby teddy bear that someone else has.Aggression is a normal part of growing up and may be related to our survival instincts.Most children are fairly aggressive when trying to defend their belongings and themselves.

There are no easy answers for how to handle excessive aggression.However, it certainly doesn’t make sense to the child or to the parent to handle aggression with aggression.Imagine this scenario: Two sisters are fighting over a toy.One parent comes in and yells at them to stop fighting, and hits one of them because the child won’t give the toy back.What does this teach the children?There’s quite a mixed message here-it’s all right to fight and to hit, but only if you are bigger and more powerful than your adversary.

Parental handling does influence how aggressive a child will be.Children in families where physical violence, such as hitting or spanking, is used as punishment generally turn out to be more aggressive than other children.The least aggressive children come from families that are non-punitive, non-permissive, and non-rejecting.The parents in such families are consistent in their handling of aggression.They don’t use physical punishment or unnecessarily harsh language.They set firm and clear limits as to what is expected of their children, and they are accepting of their children.

Consistency is important in whatever intervention techniques you use in dealing with your child’s aggression.A useful technique is to remove the child from the fight and isolate her for a few minutes.Quick handling of the situation, before the fighting gets out of hand is helpful.Once your two year old can talk, asking her to talk about how she feels or what she wants will help her learn to express herself verbally instead of physically.

Sometimes providing your child with an outlet foe her pent-up energy helps reduce the level of her aggression.Particularly in wintertime, just as with adults, active physical exercise will help release the tension and reduce the level of stress.Imaginative play also helps to work through aggressive tendencies.The age old fairy tales can be used to work through some anxieties.Parents can capitalize on the child’s imagination to help work out conflicts.