By Lora Kingsley, LPC Intern, Play Therapist
You’ve gotten the dreaded phone call from your child’s school. He has hurt another child and is being suspended. Or perhaps the daycare is calling to tell you that other parents have complained about your child’s aggressive acts and you have to find another daycare...now.
Bullying is receiving a lot of media attention these days. Schools and daycares are instituting zero-tolerance policies. All children should be kept safe from bullying and violence in school. But if you are the parent of a child who acts out aggressively against other children, you are likely to face this challenge without help from teachers or administrators, scrambling to find care for your child and fearing for their educational future.
The truth is that aggressive behavior is normal in children. As a child develops, they learn coping skills to deal with anger and other negative feelings without hitting, biting or kicking. Most children cease aggressive behavior around the age of 5. A child who is continually hurting others despite consistent efforts to redirect their behavior may be having difficulty learning how to cope with negative emotions. They may be dealing with frustration due to learning difficulties or a lack of social skills. If they have recently lost a loved one or have experienced divorce, a move, or other family disruption, they may be having difficulty processing their grief and sadness.
Play therapy has been shown to help children learn to manage their emotions and develop self-control. In the play therapy room, the child is provided with specially chosen toys. The play therapist provides a trusting and accepting environment in which the child can express themselves through their natural language of play. The play therapist will partner with you to give you support and show you how to continue the therapeutic process at home. Your child’s therapist can also communicate with teachers and school administrators to advocate for your child’s needs.
- Ensure that your child is getting enough rest at night and is eating well. Aggression can result in daytime crankiness from being tired or having low blood sugar.
- Stay calm and redirect your child’s aggressive behavior when you witness it. Model the kind of behavior you want to see in your child.
- Help your child identify their emotions. When they tell you about their day, use reflective statements such as, “You were angry when Johnny took your toy,” or, “You’re sad that the other kids don’t want to play with you.”
- Involving your child in sports and activities such as karate can help them learn self-control and healthy expression of aggression.
- Let your child’s teacher or daycare provider know that you take their concerns seriously. It’s easy to become defensive when they make your little angel sound like a monster, but try to understand the issue from their perspective. Showing them that you are concerned and taking steps to correct the problem will make them more sympathetic to your child’s cause.
- That being said, you must advocate for your child’s education and care. Ask questions about what disciplinary measures are used at school to correct the problem. Ask if your child can be given extra monitoring. Ensure that your child isn’t being labeled as a “bully” or “bad kid” by teachers.
For help with your child’s aggressive behavior, contact play therapist Lora Kingsley, LPC Intern at 972-733-3988 or book your appointment online by clicking here.
Positive Outlook Counseling
Marci B. Stiles, MA, LPC-S, NBCC
16610 N. Dallas Pkwy, Suite 2100
Dallas, Texas 75248
Positive Outlook Counseling services range from individual counseling to family therapy to marriage counseling services. Marci Stiles specializes in individual, family, marriage and troubled teen therapy.
Click Here To Book An Appointment Online