When you have a child, you dream of all the wonderful moments you’ll enjoy together. You never imagine that your child will hit you, or throw a lamp across the room and break it, or hit his brother across the face with a broom handle! If you have moments like this with your child, you are not alone.
There is a great concern about the cases of violent behaviour among children. This complex and troubling issue needs to be carefully understood by parents, teachers, and other adults. Children as young as preschoolers can show violent behaviour. Parents and other adults who witness the behaviour may be concerned; however, they often hope that the young child will “grow out of it.”
Violent behaviour in a child at any age always needs to be taken seriously.
Racheal Mwiza, a nursery teacher, says she witnesses violent behaviour among children every day. She says that often, kids with such behaviour are violent because they are seeking attention from the elders.
“I had a violent kid in my class. I would always punish him for his actions but he would never change until one day I talked to him as friend and asked why he always did what he did.”
Mwiza was shocked by the boy’s response; he said that he had always seen his parents do the same and even when he spoiled something or fought with the neighbour’s kids, he would never be punished and hence didn’t know it was bad.
Gloria Rukundo, a child care and development officer, says if a child uses aggression and violence as his primary problem – solving techniques, and if he finds it works for him in the home and at school, he’ll continue to do it. It gives him a sense of power.
Rukundo advises parents to take away the power by not tolerating the violence.
“It should not be quickly dismissed as just a phase they’re going through,” she says.
The range of violent behaviour in children can include explosive temper, tantrums, physical aggression, fighting, threats or attempts to hurt others.
Numerous research studies have concluded that a complex interaction or combination of factors leads to an increased risk of violent behaviour in children.
These factors include, being the victim of physical abuse or sexual abuse, exposure to violence in the home or community, among others.
Children who have several risk factors and show the following behaviour should be carefully evaluated; intense anger, frequent loss of temper or blowups, extreme irritability and extreme impulsiveness becoming easily frustrated.
Parents and teachers should be careful not to ignore this behaviour in children.
Whenever a parent or other adult is concerned, they should immediately arrange for a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified mental health professional. Early treatment by a professional will help.