On a Wednesday night, Mayi, a mother of two, almost fell down the staircase as she hurriedly rushed out to talk to a neighbour’s child who had hit her five- year-old daughter. In a rage, she slapped the eight-year-old, and warned her about the unbecoming behaviour. The poor girl decided to report to her mother about the incident.
Mayi’s action did not go down well with the neighbour. Despite the explanation, She was not ready to hear Mayi out. In a confrontation, the devastated Mayi reveals that reason locks her children in the house is the fact that each time they are out to play they get scolded by this particular children.
“Kyla beats other children but you never get to discipline her. Don’t you think they are all children who need to be disciplined and corrected?” Mayi questioned in a brittle voice.
The aggression and violence of the latter’s children has constrained the relationship between the two parents.
Teddy Namayanja, a child psychologist, says aggression and violence in children is a symptom of underlying problems a child may be dealing with. She is, however quick to reveal that most children learn such behaviour from their parents or the environment around them.
Namayanja says: “At times, we cannot tell what is happening in children’s lives because when we are with them, they appear to be well behaved. As a parent, pay attention to what other people say about your children’s behaviour and how they treat other children or people.”
Listen to the peers
“Once you receive complaints about your child’s behaviour from his or her peers, sit them down and find out what they like and dislike about each other. Get answers from both sides to help you make informed decisions on how to deal with your child’s violent actions or find out the cause,” Namayanja advises.
Control your temper
Ben Nsubuga, a father of two, states that children learn to communicate by observing adults. These children may in the long run copy the same method their parents use to communicate with each other and treat other children the same way.
“Children spend a lot of time with parents and teachers. This is why they need to mind the way they talk and react towards the children. When you keep yelling and scolding a child, this is the kind of language children will learn. In turn, they will yell at and scold their friends,” he explains.
Rita Nakayiza, a businesswoman and mother, remembers being violent and aggressive when she was growing up. She says she had been subjected to verbal abuse and used the same words she heard from her parents to bully her classmates.
“I was punished severally in primary and secondary school. Everyone believed I was a mischievous child. One day, a teacher decided to befriend me and somehow, I started to open up. Parents should not be quick to yell or beat a child. Children eventually get used to being beaten and this ceases to have an impact on them. Be patient with your child, talk to them and try to understand their frustrations,” says Nakayiza. She urges parents to let their children become aware of their unbecoming behaviour instead of defending and ignoring them.
Change the environment
Namayanja further explains that some children are born and raised in homes where violence is the order of the day. This is sometimes triggered by peers who cheer them to fight back. She advises parents to find a peaceful environment for their children. “If the environment your child is living in fuels violence or aggression, take him or her to stay with an aunt or uncle where you think they are safe and disciplined is enforced. This may change the child for the better.”
Miriam Nalugo, a social worker, advises parents to encourage their children to express their feelings rather than fighting. Talking through the issue can help children to manage anger.
“I have taught my children to make use of the three magic words - please, sorry and excuse me. The three words have helped me deal with aggressiveness among children,” Nalugo shares.
Set consistent limits
Children need to know what behaviour is, and is not, permitted. Make sure that everyone who cares for your child is aware of the rules you set, as well as the response to use if he does exhibit this behaviour. A child who kicks, hits, or bites should be reprimanded immediately so he understands exactly what he’s done wrong.
Help your child to deal with her anger. Encourage her to use words to express her feelings rather than fighting with her body. Calmly ask your child to explain what has caused her to become so angry. Talking through the issue can help some children work through the anger and calm down. If your child doesn’t want to discuss it with you, she may feel comfortable “talking” to a pet, puppet, or imaginary friend.
Instill self-control in your child. Children don’t possess an innate ability to control themselves. They need to be taught not to kick, hit, or bite whenever they feel like it. A child needs a parent’s guidance to develop the ability to keep his feelings under control and to think about his actions.