If a child bullies, bosses, or fights too much
Sometimes a child does not get along well with other children because he bullies, bosses, or fights too much. Other children are afraid of him. Their mothers do not like him to come over to play. Very often this is a temporary aggressiveness in a normal, healthy child who has a lot of energy. Such a child can be helped to learn better ways of getting along with other children. Sometimes, however, the aggressiveness has developed because the child feels unhappy and unloved, and he is hitting back at the world. This type of aggressiveness is not so easily redirected.
Most children are aggressive at times, some more so than others. All children need some aggressiveness to get along in this world of ours. A child must be able to meet situations, to show initiative, and to take care of himself as he grows up. As has been pointed out, it may even be necessary to encourage some children to hold onto a toy or to push away another child who interferes with his play. Children should be taught not to start a fight, but they must be allowed to keep enough aggressiveness to protect themselves when they are attacked. A child’s right to be aggressive should not be taken away from him. He should be taught how and when it may be used.
If a little child is secure and confident he usually becomes aggressive only to get what he wants. Almost every little child will push or snatch or fight for what he wants. A group of pre-school children playing together in the nursery school or on the block will usually get along together until one child wants the wagon or the swing for himself and tries to take it from another child. Then the trouble begins. But most of these children can be taught to share and take turns.
Many children in the pre-school years go through a period of aggressiveness as they try to test the “limits” to see how much they can get away with. If they are successful they may grow more aggressive because they find that it works. But if from the very beginning the child finds that by continuing to hit and snatch he will be removed from the group and forbidden to play with the other children, he gradually learns that aggression does not pay. It is best not to let a child establish a pattern of behavior that must be curbed later. It is better to teach him a better way from the very beginning.
Most pre-school children will become aggressive if there are too many rules, too many don’ts, too many demands, and too many things not permitted. Parents must choose carefully the rules they expect their children to follow. If there are too many restrictions a little child will begin to take out his resentment on his playmates.
Some children become aggressive because, naturally, they copy the pattern of the adults around them. If the grownups shout and hit, or are demanding and quarrelsome, the children will act in the same way. (Continue below to page 4)