Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


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  • Last Update:28 June,2017
  • Reading Time: 3 minutes

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Aggressive behaviour in children may sound like a normal thing and parents usually think they will eventually grow out of it. But, what if your child is physically harming you? What would you do then? Would you take action against your own child? Would you give in and do what they want?

When you see your child trying to physically harm you, it can be horrifying. Most of the parents do not report this because they are embarrassed of not being able to control their own child or they assume it’s just a “phase” that the child will grow out of. Many parents also tend to blame themselves for not being able to be a good parent.

Many parents may wonder, what makes the child so upset that they feel it is ok to harm their own parents. A little aggressive behaviour is common as the child develops but being physically abusive or harming the parent indicates that there is some serious issue with the child. Some of the commonly seen reasons why children are physically abusive are:

  • Poor coping skills: When a child is upset and frustrated about something they can exhibit aggressive behaviour. Example, if the parent does not allow the child to go to a friend’s house, the child can become aggressive against the parent when they are too frustrated to handle their negative emotions.
  • Unable to express emotions appropriately: When upset they may fail to tell what they are feeling and instead engage in aggressive behaviour. Many of these children do not wish to actually harm the parent but when under extreme emotion they are unable to control themselves.
  • Learned behaviour: When a child grows up in an environment where physical abuse is a common scene and is accepted, they grow up learning that being abusive is ‘ok’ and accepted. They also learn it as a way to manipulate to get things done. This usually happens when one parent is abusive to another.
  • Mental illness: Children with mental illness such as ADHD or behaviour problems may become aggressive towards their parents.

Know when your child is being physically abusive towards you:

  • When they are intimidating: When you often feel intimidated if your child demands for something, which do not wish to provide. Nowadays it is common to see a child or teens threatening parents especially when it comes to taking away their phones, as a way of punishment.
  • Being extremely defiant: Along with physically harming the parents, the child can be disobedient or show disrespect to the parent.
  • Increasing pattern of violence: At first the child only hit you using their hands, the second time they threaten or harm you using a sharp object. When you see an escalating pattern of violence, it is time to take serious action.

What can you do?

  • The first step is to take the aggressive behaviour as a serious matter.
  • Parents can set out clear rules – “hitting is not allowed”, neither with family members nor with friends or schoolmates.
  • Being an example. Sometime when children misbehave parents threaten them or hit them. There are chances that the child has learnt the aggressive behaviour from the parents. So, when the child is misbehaving, the parents need to accept their emotions, learn to control them and deal with the child in an appropriate manner.
  • Seek professional help. Some children continue being aggressive despite the parent’s efforts. If this is the case it is always better to involve a professional like a psychologist who can help the child.
  • The psychologist would use various projective tests to understand the underlying concern and address it using various psychotherapeutic modalities. To meet our experienced psychologist call us on +919741476476.

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