Four Steps You Can Take Right Now to Reduce Aggression
in Your Child
By Thomas B. Haller
1. Turn Off The Television and the Video Games
In 1993, the American Psychological Association estimated
that 10 percent of aggressive behavior in children could be attributed
to TV violence.
A study published in the January 2001 issue of Archives
of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine provides evidence that television
and video games contribute to aggressive behavior in children.
Children watch an estimated 21 hours of TV per week.
80-93% of the childrens programs contain violence.
Childrens programs contain 41 aggressive acts
per hour with attempted murder every 2 minutes.
Television and video violence promotes aggression
in children in 3 ways. First by showing children that violence is
a way to resolve conflicts. Second by making children less sensitive
to violence. Third by encouraging a belief that the world is mean
Stop using the T.V. and video games as a way to entertain
or even baby sit your children. Get them active in reading,
art, music and good old fashioned conversation about the world around
2. Stop Modeling Aggressive Behavior
When you attempt to stop a child from being aggressive
by overpowering them, by taking a position of authority, or by intimidation,
you are using a form of aggression as a way to stop aggression.
You teach the very behavior that you are attempting to eliminate.
Let go of the do as I say attitude. Find alternatives
to yelling, taking an aggressive stance, and spanking.
Remember that 90% of all aggressive acts are a childs
attempt to have a need met. The aggression is the instrument being
used to meet a need. Examine the situation closely in an attempt
to discover the desired need. Explore with your child alternate
ways they can get what they want. Use words that help your child
make a different choice next time.
3. Stop Teaching Aggressive Behavior
Aggression can be taught. Research indicates that
75% of aggressive acts by children ages 6 to 16 were done to obey
parents. The children were following the directions of parents who
were saying, Stand-up for yourself, Hit them back,
Prove youre a man. With these words parents are
teaching their children to use aggression to stop aggression.
Instead of teaching aggression, teach children the
power of their words. Help them discover a language of boundaries.
Equip them with the ego strength to say, I dont like
it when you say those things to me, I wont play
with you when you treat me that way, I wont let
you do that to me anymore. Help them learn to use the resources
of the school and the community to report violent acts.
4. Stop Reinforcing Aggressive Behavior
Aggression is a sure way to get attention. The person
who commits the aggressive act ends up receiving a considerable
amount of attention. Most of the time we go straight to the aggressor,
Cut that out, You know the rules, Get
over here, I told you to stop that. We chase after
the perpetrator and leave the victim. The victim is often attended
to after the aggressor has been corrected, chastised, or disciplined.
This over time begins to reinforce instrumental aggression.
Go to the victim first. Take care of their hurt or
sadness. Help them process what just happened. Let the aggressor
see you taking care of the other person. You will have time to address
the aggressive act with them in a few minutes. By going to the victim
first you show the children where your value is. You are letting
the aggressor know that the value is on healing, not on attacking.