During a child’s first four years, foundational attitudes take root and shape personality development. It is an absolute imperative that fathers do whatever it takes to dissuade aggressive behaviors while children are still young; rectification of anti-social behaviors beyond the age of four is EXTREMELY difficult.
When children are tired, they falter, their cognitive abilities plummet, and they have no patience for anything. If we want anger, miscommunication, and conflict in our family, we have an easy button: deprive children of sleep. Recommended Daily Sleep Hours Below (including naps):
- newborns: 14-17 hours
- 4-12 months-old: 12-16 hours
- 1-2 years-old: 11-14 hours
- 3-5 years-old: 10-13 hours
- 6-12 years-old: 9-11 hours
- 13-18 years-old: 8-10 hours
- 19+: 7+ hours
HUNGRY = HANGRY. Provide children with regular food and hydration or else they turn into little monsters.
It can be difficult to keep our composure when children are having a temper tantrum. By remaining cool, calm, and collected, these soothing energies tend to deescalate aggressive behaviors. If we yell, act aggressively, and show that we are stressed out, we tend to make things worse.
Design Loving Support Systems & Good Sibling Relationships
Unchecked, aggression tends to escalate. Just as hurt people hurt people, bullied children tend to bully children. Aggression between siblings often leads to in-family retaliation and can even spill over into aggression with other peers. When children are at each other’s throats, fathers are more susceptible to getting razzled and less inclined to provide a positive, calming influence. Unchecked, a father’s emotions can lead to dispensing harsher discipline and arbitrary or unfair punishments, which can spiral into heightened frustration and aggravation. Knee-jerk punishments can fuel the flames of this vicious cycle—supportive and nurturing discipline is far more effective. The difference is night and day.
Loving thoughts diffuse negative emotions. A home atmosphere of support, kindness, and compassion reminds children that dad has their back. Fathers should set clear expectations; if the tone of dad’s voice is uncontrolled or desperate, any pretense of self-doubt can strip away his power. If calm, confident, and stern, dad’s tone can be a great source of authority that makes all the difference in neutralizing contentious energy. Rather than pointing to what we seek to prohibit, let’s shine our parenting light on healthy choices and reminders of what children are supposed to do, giving positive feedback when appropriate. With a heartbeat of respect, cooperation, and love, fathers can repel aggression and inspire fairness.
Aggression isn’t always willful defiance. Young children often struggle to control their impulses, manage their emotions, and recognize how their actions impact others. Other false positives for aggression include problems with short-term memory, difficulty following directions, and inevitable conflicts caused by perceptions of unfairness. Older children might think they know better than their father; what we might perceive as aggression may be the manifestation of their belief that our paternal authority is illegitimate. With older children, dad serves his family’s best interests by choosing his battles wisely. Work toward seeing eye-to-eye about what is fair and reasonable. The more supportive we can be, the more we prove that we are focused on the big picture: the health of the father-child relationship. Rather than focusing on minor transgressions, remain dedicated to being a positive influence for the long term.
Harsh punishment, put-downs, and shame tactics can bring about anger, resentment, and increased aggression. Disciplinary measures should refocus on teaching an important lesson: how to solve a problem, how to control an impulse, how to resolve a conflict, how to make the best of a bad situation, etc. Assigning children time in the “Thinking Chair” can give them the space needed to self-regulate aggressive attitudes and behaviors. The most effective disciplinary strategies are those that introduce reasoning, explain WHY it’s important that we adhere to certain standards of behavior, and give children an honorable reputation for them to live up to.
Teach about the Power of Attributions
Sometimes, we perceive hostility in other’s intentions, even when negative perceptions are unwarranted. Negative attributions can influence us to treat others poorly, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of ill will that injects negativity into situations that may have actually been neutral or friendly. Conversely, when seeing the world through the lens of positive attribution, children are more likely to view transgressions as accidental and less likely to engage in retaliatory behaviors.
Recognize & Reject Immoral Behaviors
Some children are equipped with strong social skills and empathy—yet still behave aggressively. Somehow, they’ve convinced themselves that their aggressive behavior isn’t wrong. Work diligently with children to help them recognize any disconnects from morally acceptable behavior and instill in them the desire to do right by others. These lessons are easier to teach when we have the support of their mother; two parents are better than one. Challenge children to analyze questionable behaviors by asking them to articulate why something is or is not morally acceptable. This thought-provoking dialogue might be the push our child needs to overcome aggressive tendencies.
It is imperative that we curb aggressive behaviors while children are still young. Parental failures in this department set children up with significant disadvantages in life. Ensure they receive good sleep and proper nutrition; very few conditions provoke aggression more than hunger or tiredness. With our attitudes and behaviors, create a loving family environment where, by our example, we show them how to manage their emotions. When children behave badly, be patient. Help them learn to see things as they are—not just how we perceive them to be. Reflect with kids on their answer to the most important question of all, “Why?”
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” —Ephesians 4:31-32 KJV
“An elegant and thought-provoking book for children learning how to deal with emotions.” -NY Times
Spinky is convinced that his family hates him and goes off to sulk. Will Spinky ever cheer up? A delightful tale that will leave readers of all ages smiling.
This book speaks directly to kids with strategies they can start using immediately.
Shows readers how to recognize angry feelings, how angry feelings are created, and ways to calm down and deal with the angry emotions.
Seeing Red is designed to help elementary and middle school-aged students better understand their anger so they can make healthy and successful choices and build strong relationships.
As this little bunny experiences things that make her angry, she also learns ways to deal with her anger—ways that won’t hurt others.
Guiding children and their parents through techniques used to treat problems with anger.
A clear and effective approach to helping children understand and deal constructively with children’s anger.
Exercises offered in this book will help teenagers think more clearly and be less hostile.
A guide to de-escalating your child’s emotions and helping them express feelings in productive ways.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.