SitterCycle.com asked Dr. Jody Johnston Pawel to blog for us monthly on issues related to childcare and discipline. She provides some great tips for nannies about what to do when young children get aggressive.
What Causes Aggressive Behavior In Kids?
Aggressive behavior in young children is common, because the child has not mastered controlling their energy, anger management or conflict-resolution skills. It can also happen with older children if their parents never taught them these skills or model aggressive behavior themselves.
So when you see aggressive behavior in children, stop and ask yourself, “has this child mastered the skills to behave appropriately in this situation?
How Can I Respond to Aggressive Behavior in Children?
Aggressive energy usually comes out somehow, so your job is to show children how to channel it in constructive ways.
The most important key to preventing and stopping unintentional aggressive behavior in children is to teach them anger energy management skills.
Here are some suggestions, from prevention through discipline, using The Parent’s Toolshop®’s unique “Universal Blueprint® PASRR Effective Response Formula”:
Prevent the problem from starting or worsening.
- Openly model the behavior you want to see. Since anger management happens inside, say out loud what you do to control your energy and emotions. The child can then imitate what you do.
- Describe the behavior you want to see.Avoid using “Don’t,” “Stop,” “Quit,” or “No,” because these tell the child nothing helpful and often describe the behavior you don’t want. Start your sentence with, “You can…”
- Offer Choices in limits.For example, “If you feel angry, you can use words or walk away. Hitting is not one of your choices.”
When you need to intervene:
Since safety is a concern,you may need to dive into the situation, while verbally follow this formula:
1) Acknowledge feelings: “I can see you are angry!” You can fill in the appropriate feeling word.
2) Set the limit or rule: “. . . I expect you to remember to use words to get what you want.”
3) Redirect the misbehavior: Teach skills, being very specific, “If you want (what the child wants), say (specific words).”
4) Reveal discipline.You can:
(a) Use distraction. Quickly remove the aggressive child and involve him/her in an acceptable activity. Do not remove an angry child to a quiet isolated setting with no opportunity to move or lacks physical outlets. This could only increase the anger energy.
(b) Reveal a Logical Consequence:“You can play nicely or if you show you don’t know how to play well with others,we’ll leave.”
Teaching skills is a long-lasting solution, while punishment is just a quick fix that usually doesn’t last, because itmodels aggressive behavior. And any behavior that is a result of a lack of skills may take time to improve. Be patient and follow through consistently. Soon you will see little glimpses of the child using the skills you’ve taught him.[author image=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-MjA639EdmvU/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAAEE/03wRhHHXVzA/photo.jpg” ]Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is the author of the award-winning book, The Parent’s Toolshop and president of Parent’s Toolshop Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. She has 30 years’ experience as a top-rated speaker and parenting expert to the media worldwide, including serving as the Co-Producer and Parenting Expert for the Emmy-nominated Ident-a-Kid television series. She has produced almost 100 multimedia resources, which are available at her award-winning website, www.ParentsToolshop.com.[/author]