How to deal with aggression and violence in teens
Aggression and violence in teens : Teenage phase is the most challenging and difficult phase for parents. It becomes even more difficult and challenging when parents have to cope with aggression and violence in teens.
Through my article I want to help those parents who are struggling with aggression and violence in their teens.
I personally had this issue with my sons. The elder one showed aggression to his younger brother and outside ‘gang’ and my younger one got enough of it and showed it back to the elder one.
So, I am writing this based on my experience and some research I have done on this topic. And I hope it is of help to some worried parent out there.
Topics I have covered in this blog
- Setting context Difference between aggression and Violence
- 6 Risk factors that develops into Violence and aggression in teens
- 10 Tactics that can be used during an aggressive incident
- 10 Ways to deal with aggression and violence in teens.
- Important Note to parents
- When to seek help
Setting context: Difference between aggression and Violence
We use the term aggression and violence often . but do we really know the difference between them? What does aggression and violence in teens mean?
Let us go to the definition as per dictonry.com
Anger : A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Anger is a strong emotion. If channeled properly it can be constructive also.
Aggression: Hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another; readiness to attack or confront.
Violence: behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
Aggression and Violence can be motivated by anger. But nothing good comes out of it. They are not constructive.
Violence is a subtype of aggression where a physical behavior is manifested.
We can say arguments are part of daily routines . But Aggression is behaviour that intended to cause harm or pain . Aggression can be verbal, physical and relational.
Verbal aggression is like bullying . In verbal aggression teens use words or gesture for bullying.
In physical aggression teens usually break toys or other weapons. In extreme cases they can harm by biting, kicking and hitting.
A study by Parentline plus,a parenting charity found that 60% of calls to the help line were about verbal aggression from teenagers.
While 30% is about physical aggression.
As per Wikipedia, relational aggression is a type of aggression in which harm is caused by damaging someone’s relationships or social status.
watch the opinion of an expert on aggression in kids
6 Risk Factors that Develop into Violence and Aggression in Teens
#1 Individual risk factors
History of abuse in teenagers is a great risk factor for violence and aggression in teens.
A teen who is exposed to abuse and aggression during childhood or early adulthood, is more likely to be aggressive and violent in the future.
Research shows that witnessing aggression and violence at home or in surrounding normalize the aggression and violence experience for teens.
Teens with mental health issues or teens with any kind of emotional distress are also more likely to exhibit aggression and violence.
Sometimes they just develop aggressive personality from a very young age.
It can start with a kid throwing their toys our of frustration and frequent similar behaviour leads to them throwing objects or knives as they grow big.
Use of drugs and alcohol also increase aggression and violence in teens.
Please read some of our related articles to get a good insight into this topic.
- How to effectively deal with Teenager Anger
- How -To Talk to your Teenager about Sexual Abuse
- How-To HELP & EASE stress in your teenager
#2 Educational risk factors
Research shows that 79% of schools reported at least one incident of violence and threat every one year.
Urban school’s education system show higher risk of violence and aggression than rural schools.
Also it is a fact that direct bullying happens at school.
Children in schools where there is risk of drug and gangs are more likely to develop aggression and violence in teens.
We have covered the topic of bullying in detail in our blog How-To protect your kid from Bullying
#3 Community risk factors
Community factors also contribute to aggression and violence in teenagers.
Usually communities with low standards and with low economic development, could lead to aggression and violence in teenagers. Teens, inorder to cover up their insecurity and low self-esteem display aggression to society.
In some communities people promote aggression and violence in glamorous way, just like in the movies. And this influences aggression and violence in teens.
From such kind of societies, teens get negatively influenced and show the same behaviour in future.
#4 Social risk factors
If we talk about social risk factors, there are many. For instance ,if teens have easily access to illegal drugs and illegal weapons they tend to be more violent and aggressive.
Moreover teens with friends who have violent and aggressive backgrounds or teens who have peers who are delinquent can develop aggression and violence.
Sometimes social media shows illegal things in glamorous ways. Teens can get negatively influenced by such kind of transmissions and resort to aggression and violence.
It will be of help if you can spare times and read our article How-to help your teen to choose right friends. and How-to Talk to your Teen about Dating and Relationship
#5 Family risk factors
Over kind and overly harsh family rules leads to aggression and violence in teens.
Lack of proper guidance can also involve teens in illegal activities.
Lack of emotional attachment between parents and teens leads to aggression and violence in teens.
If any parent with drug addiction and abusive behavior then chances of aggression and violence in teens increases.
Read our article How-To Easily build Emotional Connection with your Teenager to give you some insights.
#6 Other factors
Impulse. Kids who lack self-control. Who are usually considered short fused. Teens who can get aroused or triggered easily, run the risk of displaying aggressive tendencies that can soon escalate into violence.
This, coupled with easy access to weapons is a good recipe for disaster in the making.
Aggression in a balanced way is normal but if you see your teen becoming violent and aggressive without any apparent reason then you should seek medical help.
Because, aggression is also a symptom of many psychological disorders like
- Depressive Disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Autistic spectrum disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
To know more about the issues faced while parenting teens you can browse through a list of topics using the link here -> Parental challenges faced while raising teens.
10 Tactics that can be used during an aggressive incident
If you have an aggressive teen then you must accustom yourself with these 10 tactics that will help you during an aggressive situation and ensure everyone’s safety.
When your teen gets angry, try to control yourself. It may be difficult and hurtful for you but it is important to resolve the issue. Because if you get aggressive in return, things become even more difficult for you and your teen also.
Be calm and address your teen in a slow but steady voice. By this way you can also show your teen how you behave when you could show aggression and anger. And there is a strong possibility they get positively influenced by your behavior and try to do things in a calm way next time.
Open Gestures and Eye Contact
Use open guestures to build trust and confidence in the situation. Open gestures such has open hands, show your palms.
Make direct eye contact if you feel you can control them. If they are way too overpowering, then have your head down to signal you are backing off.
Hug / Touch / Pat
A gentle touch or a hug is reassuring to your teen.
Gauge the situation and use it. It will require you to get close to your teen and you have the risk of getting pushed away.
A touch on their wrist or a light pat or their upper arm or shoulder sometimes calms their nerves.
Give physical space. Make them sit
Distance yourself from a raging teen. This is to ensure your safety and protection. Maintain one arm distance at least so that you don’t get hurt should the situation escalate into violence. This has helped me.
Avoid power struggle
This is not the time to sit and prove your control or authority. Your teen will be in no mood to listen to you.
It can infact bounce back at you if your teen decides to prove a point.
Be wise and pick your battles as per the situation. When things are more calm and conducive you can exercise your authority and drive home the point.
Avoid More triggers
If you feel you can’t control your anger, try to remove yourself from the situation until complete you are calm.
Your anger or agitation can be a trigger for more aggression.
Keep yourself away from accusing or name calling or any form of negativity. These can arouse the teen to be more aggressive.
Remove yourself from the situation
Move away. Run and hide if things are getting out of hand. There is no good standing and trying to be a hero.
When you remove yourself from the situation you are not only protecting yourself but you are also giving time for your teen to calm down.
Give space to teenagers when they are angry
Try to give your teenager time when you feel they are not going to listen you.
Try to give them the space to realize about their actions and behavior and talk to them once they completely calm down.
You can just stand there quietly till they calm down or you can tell your teen that it is not the right time to talk and excuse yourself and move away.
Call in for help
Though they are your kids, teens can be physically stronger than you. They can easily overpower you. Understand your situation well.
And make a judgement call if you need to call in for help. It can be your spouse in the next room or a neighbour to help you get out of the situation.
10 Ways to deal with an aggressive and violent teen
As you have gotten information about all the risk factors that can cause aggression and violence in your teen, you can easily spot any risk factor and take preventive measures. Here, we will discuss about how parents can deal with an aggressive and violent teen;
Be a good role mode
Try to be calm when you face any challenge or difficulty. If you start screaming and shouting, the situation can become worse. Try to stay calm and handle the situation in a polite way.
Your teens are watching and observing you. Parents are the role model for teens .They unintentionally learn from your behavior. If you show calm behavior in anger and tough periods , they will repeat the same things in future.
Encourage your teen to get counselling
Encourage your teen to get counselling if there is any problem or if they feel they need counselling. Try to encourage them by explaining the benefits of counselling. Try to accompany your teen when they go for counselling.
Teach your teen to choose right friend
Friends have a great influence in developing your teen’s personality. Bad friends can lead your teen towards aggression and violence. In a friendly way, guide them about good and bad friends . Or which friend they should choose or which friend they should avoid.
Get involved in your child’s daily routine
Always take care of your child’s daily routine .Try to get involved in your teen’s interests,friends and hobbies. In this way , you will easily know what happening in your teen’s life.
Try to build a friendly relationship with your teen
This is the best thing you can do as a parent. When there is a strong relationship between parent and kids, things become easier for both of them. When there is a strong and understanding relationship between teen and parents, teens become less likely to resort to aggression and violence.
Offer support to your teens
Try to offer support to your teens in their worries. Encourage them to talk to you if they face any kind of problem . Make sure they know their parents are with them no matter what the problem is.
Resume topic when calmness and sanity is restored
If you are angry and cannot control your anger, put your conversation on pause. You can resume when you feel calmness in you and in your teen’s behavior. Try to talk about the problem. Try to make them realize that their behavior is not appropriate at all and they need to work on their behavior.
Encourage them to find solutions to problems
Tell your teen there are ups and downs in everyone’s life. So they should try to find solution if they face any problem in future. Tell them aggression or violence are not going to solve the problem they are facing. So just relax and think about possibilities to overcome the situation.
Set limitations and rules
Set clear rules and consequences for your teens. Tell them violence and aggression and disrespect is prohibited in your family and no one is allowed to break the rules.
In this way your teen learns the do’s and don’ts of your family rules.
Talk to their school teacher
Try to discuss things with your teen’s school teacher to know about their behavior in school and in studies. If you spot out any risk factor, take necessary action according to situation.
An important note to parents
Aggression and violence in teenagers are terrible things for parents, but you cant solve the situation while getting angry and frustrated.
It is never going to help you . The only thing you need to know is the factor which you think is developing aggression and violence in your teen.
Try to remove that factor. No matter what the factor is, any friend of your teen or any family factor or social factor. Because it concerns your teen’s overall well being and stable personality.
Reduce factors that trigger and increase factors that prevent. Do pray or meditate so that you maintain your sanity when you are going though this tough situation.
Try to handle the situation in a calm way. Think about solutions instead of problems and progress forward.
Remember this when seeking medical help..
One of the key take aways you should have is that anger is only one of the factors that motivates a teen towards aggression and in escalated cases into violence.
So, if you just follow anger management practice it is not sufficient. It might not help your kid if struggling with aggression.
So if you spot aggression or violence in your teen, then you should specifically seek help for aggression and violence and not just anger management.
As we discussed earlier , sometimes aggression could be a symptom of other psychological disorders in teens. So seek medical help if you find any problem with your teen. Or if you feel your teen might be putting themselves or others at risk.
Aggression and violence, if not controlled could become a permanent habit for teens. They will try to resolve all the things in life with aggression and violence.
Agression and violence in teens leads the person towards depression, anxiety and stress. So, this needs to be in control.
And as a parent you have to take steps to address the real cause of aggression and violence in your teen. And with time, patience and consistent effort you will have a mentally healthy, stable and well balanced adult.
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Have you had to deal with aggression and violence in teens? Let us know ow you overcame it. Leave your comments below..
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