In some children, however, the problem may not be one or two isolated incidents of aggression, but a continuing pattern of behaviour. In these cases, more sustained attention and care will be required. Aggression in children is usually a sign of underlying issues which need to be addressed, so it’s not enough to focus on the external behaviour. The cause of the aggression needs to be addressed as well.
For child and youth workers, it may not always be easy to figure out the underlying causes of aggression. Children often lack the vocabulary or the means of expressing themselves clearly enough to give a strong indication of any one cause. Their outbursts are often as mysterious to themselves as they are to those around them.
The first step for anyone planning to become a child and youth worker is to be familiar with the possible causes. Here are three common ones that you should know.
1. Mood Disorders in Children Can Potentially Lead to Aggression
One potential cause of aggression to consider is the presence of a mood disorder. Children who suffer from bipolar disorder, for example, can experience dramatic shifts in their mood, and unlike bipolar adults who may experience the manic stages of the disorder as elation or euphoria, bipolar children are much more likely to have manic episodes marked by anger and rage. If it’s suspected that a child suffers from bipolar disorder, they should immediately be referred to a child psychiatrist or a childrens mental health expert.
2. Frustration or Impulsivity Can Sometimes Be Mistaken for Aggression
In other cases, children might be suffering from conditions which cause them frustration, provoking aggressive outbursts as they struggle to verbalize or work through the difficulties they’re experiencing. This can sometimes happen with children with learning disabilities, who struggle with their schoolwork and other tasks. It can also happen with children affected by autism, who struggle to communicate. Students in child and youth care worker training at KLC College will learn more about this subject in the autism spectrum disorder workshop.
Impulsivity in children can also sometimes be misinterpreted as aggression. Children may not be intentionally inflicting harm, but simply acting without considering the consequences, as might be the case when a child suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
3. Be Mindful of Children’s Home Situations When You Become a Child and Youth Worker
Underlying mental or psychological conditions aren’t the only potential causes of aggression in children, though. It can also sometimes be a result of stress, which can come from any number of external factors, including parental unemployment or health issues, the breakup of a marriage, poverty and deprivation, or fractured and combative home situations. In these cases, it’s essential for families and the people who support them to manage these external stressors in order to stem the root cause of a child’s aggression, and give them the support and safety they need to develop healthy coping mechanisms.
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