How to Deal With Violent Children

Written by mika lo
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While teaching children to control their emotions can be difficult, doing so can have a positive impact on their social progress and self-confidence. This is because children that understand how to "play nice" with others are more likely to maintain rewarding relationships. Eliminating negative tendencies such as violent outbursts takes a consistent constructive effort. Use patience and firmness to help children remain in control of their feelings and actions.

Skill level:

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    Treat each child as an individual. Understand that a variety of reasons contribute to violent outbursts in children. These may include decreased self-esteem or altered views regarding what constitutes acceptable social behaviour. Avoid labelling violent children as "bad" or "difficult," as this can reduce your ability to provide effective supervision.

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    Engage in regular conversations with violent children. Realise that giving them an opportunity to discuss their feelings can help them defuse anger. It can also give you a better understanding of their motivations and reasoning. Ask reflective questions, without making them feel interrogated. Sometimes simply allowing a violent child to express his thoughts can help him make social decisions that are more acceptable.

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    Stay aware of warning signs and triggers. This heightened alertness can help ward off negative incidents. Examples of escalating anger include verbal assaults, striking inanimate objects or presenting with aggressive posturing. Use calming activities such as deep-breathing exercises to help alleviate stress and deter outbursts. It may be necessary to separate a child from distractions such as unruly classmates.

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    Address adverse episodes in a timely manner. Understand that swift attention to problems shows your seriousness about eliminating issues. It also communicates that you hold the offending child responsible for her actions. Reinforce your expectations for acceptable behaviour, while administering an appropriate consequence for the offence. This may include reducing privileges or providing "quiet time" for the child to reflect on her behaviour.

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    Watch your temper and your manners. While it can be difficult to stay calm in the face of inappropriate behaviour, doing so is essential. Realise that actions including using harsh language or yelling can promote more hostility. This can make it more difficult for a child to come to approach you with his problems or to comply with your corrective measures. Speaking in a calm yet authoritative voice relays your disapproval without making a child feel attacked.

Tips and warnings

  • Provide both correction and praise to let children know that you do notice and appreciate progress.
  • Encourage children to channel their energy into positive group activities to help them develop constructive social skills.
  • Ensuring that all caregivers are following the same corrective techniques can help a child remain consistent when she makes progress.

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