Aggression is a behavior that results in physical or mental injury to people or animals, or in the destruction of property.
It is different from assertion. Assertion is an act of self-defense.
It protects someone from becoming a victim of other people's aggressive behavior.
Assertiveness is an important indication of developmental progress, as it reflects a child's capabilities and sense of independence.
Aggression is often learned at an early age through "social reinforcing" or role modeling. Babies study the expressions of others to learn how to act. From birth, babies already feel pleasure, distress, and even fear.
By the age of 3 months, they are capable of recognizing expressions of joy and sadness. Babies 6 to 12 months old can slowly show signs of hostile aggression by biting, wailing, and even slapping.
From 12 to 18 months old, children are continuously experimenting and picking up emotional cues from their parents, caregivers, and peers. Their emotional-internal response goes through tests and fine-tuning, as they determine which response or action fits a situation. By age 2, kids can express emotions like empathy and shame. Hostile aggression appears as tantrums, and happen when they fail to communicate their emotions.
Pre-schoolers, on the other hand, manifest aggression through hitting or saying threatening words. According to experts, when children turn to aggression, it doesn't mean they're bad. It's just an indication that there is something they can't express. Something is causing them internal pain and they dont yet know how to control anger.
Parents should try to understand what is going on in their child's life. There is a huge responsibility to understand the developmental stage of childhood.
To deal with kids' aggressive behavior, parents can try to:
- Soothe them. Most children calm down and feel better when they are held. Sometimes a loving touch is all they need.
- Amuse or surprise them. Provide kids with diversions that are sure to keep their mind away from unruly behavior. Using non-sarcastic humor or doing the unexpected can defuse an explosive situation. Giving kids something to occupy their minds turns negative attention into something positive.
- Take time out. You can employ this as a way to remove your child from the situation and cool him or her down. And this applies to you, too. Don't forget to explain the reason for the time-out, but do this in a tone that is firm but mild.
- Intervene and teach empathy. Empathy is taught when you put them in a situation that makes them feel what others are feeling. Discuss with them the consequences of hurting others: what happens if they use aggression, and what ways there are other than violence.
- Ignore. Don't enforce aggressive behavior on kids by giving a child more attention. Underplay bad behavior as much as possible. Stick by your decision and don't easily give in to their plea for attention.
As parents, therefore, we should keep the following in mind at all times.
- Be a model of good behavior.
- Giving in to your children's demands tells them that tantrums bring desired results.
- Don't allow your embarrassment to weaken your better judgment.
- Reassess all factors that may stir up a tantrum. See if you can do something to help them settle down before they totally blow up.
Every human being needs to learn how to deal with frustration. Tantrums are the first step in accommodating frustration. If your child does not throw any fit at all, that is not necessarily something to be proud of. It is a parent's job to help children learn more productive ways of dealing with obstructions.
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Raising Kids: Taming the Bully
How often do children get bullied by other kids? It is hard to pinpoint a bullying incident at pre-school level. But oftentimes, it happens, though not as violently or intentionally inflicted as the ones at school age. It can be pushing a classmate to get in front of the line, getting a seat, or eating someone else's snack.
Pre-schoolers, naïve as they are, don't know that what they're doing is wrong. Based on educator Jean Piaget's theory of Cognitive Development, children ages 0 to 2 years old are in the Sensorimotor Period. In this phase, children are egocentric everything is "I" based: "This is my ball." Or, "that chair is mine." Thus, meeting other children for the first time is a challenge for them, as well as learning big words: "Share" and "Wait".
Response of Parents
Both the parents' and educators' active participation in preventing or solving bullying incidents is essential.
An educator must immediately reprimand a child when he/she is bullying a classmate. Small bullies might grow up to be big bullies and not correcting the child's attitude will greatly affect how he or she will handle his or her interaction with peers as grown-ups. It is also helpful to tell stories about getting along with classmates and the importance of friends.
Isolating the baby bully is not an option. If the bully must learn how to properly interact with his or her classmates, the others kids must also learn how to deal with him or her.
Correct Your Child
If your child is a bully or shows some bully attitudes, he or she must be corrected as soon as possible. Mommy and Daddy must get the whole story and explain that what the kid did was wrong. Also, ask why he or she did such a thing.
Active parenting and close coordination with the teachers are the best ways to handle the incident. Spending quality time with your child provides a sense of security and helps him or her cope with the stress of going to school and being with other children. Pre-school is a new world for your child and being out there all alone will definitely be a shock.
Some bullying incidents would be very trivial to an adult's eyes what's the big deal with grabbing and eating somebody else's food, or laughing at other children's mistakes? These seem to be petty and, well, theyre just kids. Grabbing someone else's snack today may turn into a bank robbery in the future; or laughing now may be a character attack when he or she is of adult age.
Correcting small problems at age three would definitely prevent humongous troubles in mid-life. A parent must not panic if a child behaves so. It can still be controlled. Helping their children deal with this now would be a favor if they do it for themselves. If a parent does not correct a toddler, there is no way he or she can help his or her delinquent juvenile as an adolescent.
Hope For Parents
Parents and teachers must work together to help kids who bully other children. They must definitely be present to assist and guide their kids to be good and kind-hearted individuals. It is wrong to pass on the responsibility of taking care of your children to caregivers and teachers. They can only do so much to help the kids are yours, not theirs.
Bullying is just one of the things a child must learn to deal with. Trying to solve this problem alone is a big task for your child. A toddler's job is just to play and learn as much as he or she can.
Other forms of stress like bullying and taking care of themselves are too much to ask of a child. Being there for him or her, therefore, is a must.
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