How to deal with a violent child?

violent child

When a child or teenager is angry or dissatisfied, he or she may become violent. Find out how to behave in this situation and prevent violent crises as a parent.
Relayed by our colleagues of the Express, these advices are useful for the majority of parents. And for good reason, it can happen that a child has violent excesses without knowing how to respond. Specialists give their analysis on these reactions and how to remedy them.

Aggression is a structuring reaction to the environment
Patrick Ben Soussan, child psychiatrist and author of the book De l’art d’élever des enfants im(parfaits), believes that aggressiveness is part of the normal development model of the child. For him, it is even a structuring reaction that can be identified from 17 months. The violence comes from the moment when children understand that their environment does not depend on their will. This frustration then creates a “peak of violence”. “It is the difficult learning of frustration and the rules of life in a group,” analyzes the expert. He adds that at the time of these dissatisfactions, the child understands that the infantile omnipotence cannot be a durable reality. The child psychiatrist explains that from this feeling is born the reflex to hit. Most difficult children have parents who make these 5 mistakes.

Violence results from a difficulty in expressing emotions
Interviewed by Ouest-France, Patrick Ben Soussan explains that if the aggressiveness persists after 3 years or worsens, the child has difficulty integrating “that he is no longer one with his parent”. Aggression therefore has an affective dimension that involves emotions. The doctor indicates: “When he is less than 3 years old, a child functions by projection. He sends back outside of him all that does not suit him: stress, anger, suffering”. And that, it can express it like aggressiveness towards the adult. However, this does not mean that the adult must be permissive even at an early age.

Make the child understand that the body is sacred
After explaining the ins and outs of this reaction, the specialist explains that this behavior is not harmless and deserves to be corrected. “We say in a radical way that it is impossible, that he must never do it again. We stop it with a gesture, just as we would if he pointed his fingers at a plug,” he recommends. Following this advice allows a parent to indicate the sanctity of the body. For this reason, Patrick Ben Soussan insists on firmly taking back the child in case of violence. In this way, he will understand that a child does not have the right to touch an adult and vice versa. Sometimes, parents must learn to question themselves. These 8 behaviors are holding their children back.

A parent should never trivialize violence
After a violent outburst, the parent must establish a dialogue. “You have to know how to listen to what he says and remain open to it,” advises the author of the book De l’art d’élever des enfants (im)parfaits. However, if discussion is required, the child psychiatrist explains that it is essential to never make violence ordinary by not letting it pass. “It is up to each parent, depending on the situation, to know how to firmly reaffirm the prohibition of hitting, to respect the limits” he insists. This is a way to make the child understand that violence is a prohibitive behavior.

“There is no such thing as a violent child”.
If the doctor specialized in children underlines the indispensable character to be coercive in case of violence, he asks to discuss the crisis afterwards. However, Patrick Ben Soussan explains to parents that they should not dwell on explanations. “Some people go on long tirades about why we shouldn’t hit. It’s useless. The briefer we are, the better the message will get through,” he warns. Then he adds: “There is no such thing as a violent child who needs to let off steam by banging on a couch. Violence is really directed against someone,” he says. He warns that it is dangerous to stigmatize the child as being violent because it is part of his or her temperament, an idea that can only make the child worse. A heavy history of violence can make a child prone to long-term violence.

What to do when the child is older?
The child psychiatrist and professor of child psychiatry, Daniel Marcelli, proposes solutions when this aggressiveness is persistent. Among them, the role play. It is with this setting in situation that the child will be able to understand the various feelings that one can feel. Suggesting an activity or a hobby can also be helpful in channeling these bad emotions. The specialist also recommends congratulating progress when it is made and thus reinforcing this new behavior. If the child’s or teen’s behavior takes over, do not hesitate to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist. This specialist will help the parents to identify the causes of these reactions and to put words to the patient’s ailments.