Causes of aggression in children

My experience with aggressive kids:

Me as a student counsellor, had opportunities to work with children from different spheres of life. I have been a consultant at both government and private 
schools. I'm sharing few of my experiences to create awareness on what causes aggression in children.

I had worked with Riya (name changed), a 14yr old student from a convent, who was sent to me for complaints of being hostile to teachers & students. She showed her anger by not bringing books to school, not completing homework & back answering teachers. She would not talk to other classmates & used to give rude replies to them.

Working with Riya had given me lot of learning. I tried to analyse during my counseling  sessions on why she behaved this way in school. Riya had an unhappy home environment. Riya's father was alcoholic & was physically abusive. He would beat up Riya, her mother & other siblings. He had an extra-marital affair & used to refrain himself from coming home & paying the home bills. Riya's mother like a single parent handled different tasks. The child was feeling very bad for the plight of her mother & had bottled up lot of anger towards the father which she was letting out in wrong channels.
I had to speak to Riya's mother to bring in a change in the home environment, to help the child.

I had worked with 12yr old Cathy(name changed) another child from a convent. She was sent to me for complains of biting other children when she got angry. I came to know many things about the child during my sessions & found that Cathy was suffering due to psychological disturbance. She had weird imaginations of destruction happening to her & others(like kidnap, rape or murder). She was in a illusioned state of mind. These symptoms show that the reason behind the child's aggression could be a mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. The child was referred to a psychiatrist for medical evaluation &  treatment.

Suhil(name changed) a 11yr old from a corporation school was sent to me for complaints of hitting  & kicking other children in the playground. When I spoke to the child on why he behaved this way, he gave me an answer which shocked me. He told me ' Anger is the quality of a man'. I further probed & asked him what made him think this way and I found that the child was modelling a movie star who displayed a lot of aggression on screen. The s star he mentioned, has mass followers in our state & most children love him & are carried away by his stunt & punch dialogues. I had to reinforce Suhil repeatedly in my sessions that 'Motivation & inspiration are the qualities of a man & not anger'.

6 yr old Mithun (name changed), from an international school was referred to me for complaints of hitting other children, throwing books & pencils on others & tearing other's notebooks. When I collected history about the child I found Mithun was restless in the class, he wanders in the classroom while the teacher took class, he doesn't pay attention to instruction neither does he write. I worked with the child & found that the child had problems with  sustaining attention & concentration. This was the issue which needed to be addressed to bring down aggression in the child. 

In the above cases of children we found that unhappy home environment due to parental conflicts, alcoholism & physical abuse &, psychiatric illness, role modelling media figures & cognitive disturbances caused aggression in children.

The reason for aggression in a child, could be any of the stated above.

If a child displays aggression we need to find the root cause & address it at the beginning stage itself. If not it will lead to destructive behaviors which is harmful for the child and the society.

As responsible adults- parents, teachers and counsellors, have an important role to play in shaping a the behavior of a child.

Swathi Priya. P
Counselling Psychologist


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