Some Weeks back I (Sarah from @puffindiaries) asked for some help with aggressive and abusive behaviour from my youngest son. He was, and still is on occasions, hitting and lashing out, plus speaking in a very aggressive and rude tone to all members of the family.
I want to thank everyone who gave such useful and understanding advice, so much so that I thought it would be a good idea to summarise it all here.
A No Fuss Consequence from @SuddenlyMummy
If the child reacts further or behaviour escalates then have a further consequence in place for this eventuality.
When the behaviour occurs the consequence is implemented immediately, with no discussion. If possible the item to be removed is moved away.For example placing the Playstation in a cupboard.
The consequence should be consistent and the same each time, so the message is clear.
This helps you stay in control and keep calm as you already know how you will react to the situation.
Positive Reinforcement from @LinsCummings.
Use a chart or reward system for when the child does not react with the negative behaviour.
Make the chart achievable, for example if the behaviour happens daily reward the child for reaching the end of the day without being aggressive and the gradually extend the length of time.
Use lots of positive comments alongside the chart, praising your child for unrelated positive behaviour as well. For example if they play well with another child or sit calmly for an activity.
Allow the child to select the reward, with your guidance to ensure it is something they wish to try hard to obtain. Sometimes it is best to start big with your rewards to ensure motivation but decrease in time as the child becomes more accustomed to the required behaviour.
Always ensure you and your child knows clearly how the reward system works, use visuals or a poster with rules on so the child understands. The child can be involved in designing or decorating the chart or making the poster to help them feel inclusive in the process.
Make sure you can put the time in and follow through with all rewards or consequences.
The Removal Technique from @Fran_Proctor
When you see behaviour you find unacceptable, remove the child from the room for a pre – agreed amount of time. This is about removing attention from the child.
Before the child is allowed to return to the room, explain to them why they were removed and ask them to apologise. If they do not apologise they do not get to return to the room.
Remember to be consistent, calm and to follow through and as @FranProctor says “Keep it simple, straight to the point and move on.”
Dealing with Abusive language from @3beesandahoney
Ignore as much as you can and respond to the child only when they speak to you in a polite manner.
If you do respond use calm and understanding voice and try to recognise your child’s emotions, these phrases from @3beesandahoney are perfect ‘thank you for letting me know that you are finding it hard to cope at the moment’ or ‘I am sorry you feel like that, just remember you may be feeling mad at us at the moment but that doesn’t stop us loving you’.
Help the child find silly acceptable words to replace the particularly abusive or sociably unacceptable words. This is particularly useful for the school environment or social situations. Again @3beesandhoney suggests the word “fudge cake” and we have certainly used the word “fudge”.
Final Thoughts from @newPyjammas
Some children find an instant consequence easier to understand than having to wait for the impact of their behaviour. This can help if a child has difficulty with the idea of cause and effect.
Allow family games where the children are allowed to be play rough and tumble with each other or being load. I love her idea of holding up sheets of newspaper so that children can smash through with their fists.
A great idea for colleting praise is to give out pasta for good behaviour that goes into a jar, when the jar is full you can cook something yummy with it.
So lots of great ideas for dealing with aggressive and abusive behaviour. I think it must be said that not all approaches suit all children, especially children that have lived with early life trauma and who struggle with attachment. However, lots of these methods rely on several of the same ingredients and these ingredients are imperative for successful parenting no matter what.
Be clear and keep it simple,
Once it’s over move forward,
Don’t beat yourself up if doesn’t quite go as you would have hoped, this is a tough job and you’re doing your best.