Aggression / fighting
Featured in Pre-Teens & Teens
Most people understand that the teen years, and even the pre-teen years now, are difficult to get through. Emotional and physical changes are occurring at a brisk pace and the need for acceptance by others becomes paramount in a teen’s life. Every teen has to learn to cope with these changes, as well as discover self-awareness. All of these changes at the same time can create a very difficult time for teens.
Methods of Discipline
Parents may be able to help teens who have aggression issues just by understanding what the teens are going through, as well as the causes of aggression and anger. Aggressive and fighting behavior in teens should not be ignored.
1. Talk to your teen to find out if there is one thing that is upsetting him or her the most. Is there a bully at school that is wreaking havoc and his/her life and he/she just doesn’t know how to deal with it? Is a romantic relationship falling apart? Is your teen worried about something? As difficult as it may be, keep the lines of communication open so that your teen feels supported and will come to you if they are faced with something they can’t handle.
2. Sit down with your teen or pre-teen and develop house rules. Set up the rules that must be followed, along with the consequences if the rules are not followed. Of course, parents must enforce these rules in order for them to be effective.
3. Behavioral contracts is one idea that works with many teens who have aggression issues. These behavioral contracts help adolescents take control of their behavior. The contract lists target positive behaviors and rewards that can be earned for meeting some of the criterion. These contracts should clearly express your expectations.
4. Use effective commands when dealing with aggressive teens. Effective commands are ones that are concise, positively stated, direct and are given one at a time. Avoid using a command that is vague or that include multiple requests that are chained together. Also, avoid commands that give too much information.
5. Do not ignore aggressive or fighting behavior in your teen. These issues do not typically go away on their own and usually need some kind of intervention. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help for your teen if you feel it is necessary.
Helping Your Child Cope
It is common for teens and pre-teens to fight with parents, siblings and friends, however, there are symptoms and signs that can be indicative of larger issues. Keep an eye out if your teen appears isolated, doesn’t want to participate in typical activities or spends a lot of time in his/her room. A drop in grades, sleeplessness, too much sleep, crying often, constantly arguing or lack of appetite are all signs to watch for.
Remember that no teen is always bad, so be sure to catch him or her behaving well, and use praise for these positive behaviors. Try to give your teen opportunities to succeed and give him or her positive feedback. Also, remind your teen or pre-teen that it is the inappropriate behavior, not the adolescent, that you do not like. As always, remain clam even though this can be incredibly difficult to do. Model positive problem solving for your teen to follow.