Aggressive behaviors in Small Schoolchildren
Marius Nicolae 1, Susanu Neaga2
Abstract: Regarding the small schoolchildren it can be said that these reactions, the aggressive behaviors, are the result of the experiences of feelings of anger and frustration, that appear against the background of abilities of expression of the emotions and of emotional regulation insufficiently developed. Only in time, through different life experiences, children learn to gain better control over their own emotional reactions. Research indicates that these skills are essential for success at school, with family, with friends and on a professional level. When children are not aware of their own experiences, they may find it difficult to control their actions driven by the first impulse and to make appropriate decisions. In school, there are more and more conflicting situations between children of young school age, such as quarrels, misunderstandings or disputes, taking place in play contexts or daily interactions with colleagues at school. Due attention should be paid to constant and constantly supervised violent manifestations of children, both during class hours and during breaks. They need to be taught that when they are involved or witnessing violence, they should contact the teacher.
Keywords: school; aggression; behavior; emotional; strategies; prevention; teacher
Lately, more and more adults (parents, teachers) are expressing concerns about children’s behavioral problems, such as physical and verbal aggression, anger attacks, defiance, adult or other children’s quarrels. Such behaviors are part of the natural process of child development. With regard to small schoolchildren, it can be said that these reactions are the result of experiencing feelings of anger and frustration, which appear against the background of poorly developed emotional expression and emotional control skills. Only in time, through different life experiences, children learn to gain better control over their own emotional reactions. Thus, “the children will learn to control their feelings that control them, to maintain their self-control in stressful situations and to communicate positively with others.
Research indicates that these skills are essential for success at school, with family, with friends and on a professional level. When children are not aware of their own experiences, they will find it difficult to control their actions guided by the first impulse and to make appropriate decisions.” (Elias, Tobias, & Friedlander, 2012, pp. 139-140).
It is very important for a child to pay attention to his or her feelings, which is difficult to do in adults. Children need a “vocabulary of emotions” that becomes more elaborate with increasing age, precisely to be able to use it for optimal management of emotions, and not to reach unwanted behaviors. Behavioral problems in low school age with high frequency and intensity are aggressive behaviors and defiance. “As children grow, they naturally and adaptively adopt ideas and beliefs both from adults and from the children around them. These ideas and beliefs acquired by the child are strongly influenced by the culture of the child. He begins to develop a conception of himself in the context of the family and of a wider community. This is the normal way in which children develop their conception of themselves and learn what is acceptable and what is not, regarding personal and social behavior.” (Geldard, Geldard & Yin Foo, 2013, p. 189).
In school, there are more and more conflicting situations between children of young school age, such as quarrels, misunderstandings or disputes, taking place in play contexts or daily interactions with colleagues at school. Thus, children have the opportunity to learn to defend their point of view, to express their emotions and to adequately solve the social problems they face. It is very important for adults to give children the opportunity to learn how to communicate and resolve conflicts constructively.
Aggressive manifestations in early school age occur due to the existence of dysfunctions in emotional regulation and interpersonal relationships, children having difficulty managing intense anger reactions, which leads to frustration and aggressive behaviors. There are also cases where aggression tends to become a style of interaction encouraged by associating this behavior with certain benefits such as gaining the attention of adults, revenge on another child who has better developed abilities, gaining influence in the group of friends, imposing as a leader group.
Aggressive behavior of children is often influenced by certain adult attitudes such as inconsistency, criticism and corporal punishment, the latter representing negative behaviors that become role models for children.
There are preventive strategies that can be used by teachers, up to specific and specific intervention strategies, which can be used when it is observed that a student repeatedly exhibits violent behaviors. The following will be presented the startups through which you can intervene in case of aggression. In the paper “Strategies for the prevention of behavior problems” the authors recommend the following:
1. Creating an Atmosphere at the Classroom Level that does not Provide the Opportunity for Manifestations of Violent Behaviors
- Provide as often as possible positive feedback to the appropriate behaviors manifested by children. Praise the specific behaviors that children show. For example, instead of saying “You are a good child!” or “You are a good colleague of the bank!”, it is preferable to say “Today you Behaved very well during the big break, in the game with your colleagues!” or “Very good that you decided to share your pencils with the colleague of the bank.”
- Clarify your expectations and set together a set of rules to prevent violent events. Define what these behaviors mean in the most concrete way. For example: pushing or dressing a colleague, nicknaming a colleague, hitting a colleague. Then set clear penalties for these situations and determine who students should address when involved or witnessing such behaviors. Also, determine the prosocial behaviors you want to promote. Example: to speak in the right tone, to take care of other people’s things, to ask permission before using someone else’s things.
- Strengthen children’s daily and weekly school routines. Children who exhibit violent behavioral manifestations are more likely to adapt to organizational changes at the classroom level. These children need additional information and assistance in the process of observing the routines.
2. Promoting consistent attitudes towards aggression
Implement a rewards system that must follow the following steps:
Specify to the child that, whenever he manages to manifest prosocial behavior, he will receive a symbolic reward, which, at the end of the week, will turn into a reward in the form of activity.
Use a card to apply the symbolic rewards so that the child can monitor their progress.
Gradually increase the time frame after which you offer the symbolic reward, so as to avoid dependence on it.
Replace the symbolic rewards with praise.
Establishing logical consequences - the teacher can request the replacement or return of the object taken without asking permission or applying a problem-solving strategy to solve a conflict that has generated physical aggression.
Application of exclusion - if the aggression occurs during the hour, the respective student will be isolated in the first bank under the supervision of the teacher.
Avoidance of threats or negative verbal reactions - students who exhibit aggressive behavior respond better to sanctions in the form of logical consequences, calmly administered by the teacher, compared to situations in which they are threatened or the adult raises the tone of voice.
The consistency of the teacher’s attitudes towards the violent and harassing manifestations - apply the mentioned strategies consistently, as the children learn to speculate the lack of consistency and the teacher loses his authority if he has variations of attitude.
Avoid comparisons with other students - the teacher must give up generating situations of false competition. By comparing the child with other children, the manifest adult actually gives the child a feeling of distrust. Comparisons do not motivate children with behavioral problems, on the contrary, they understand that they are not able to live up to the adult’s expectations, persevering in negative behavior. In contrast, when children are appreciated for their qualities and passed on to them, the availability of change is high.
Due attention should be paid to constant and constantly supervised violent manifestations of children, both during class hours and during breaks. They must be taught that when they are involved or witnessing acts of violence, they should address the teacher. Also, it is preferable to ignore minor quarrels, and when the quarrels do not reach aggressive reactions, children should be encouraged to find solutions themselves (only if they do not get along, the adult can intervene by reminding them the steps to solve problems). It is recommended to reinforce and reward the positive behavior of children who mainly act as aggressor
Benga, O.; Băban, A. & Opre, A. (coordinators) (2015). Strategies for the prevention of behavior problems. Cluj – Napoca: ASCR Publishing.
Elias, M.J.; Tobias, S.E. & Friedlander, B.S. (2012). Children’s emotional intelligence. Bucharest: Curtea Veche Publishing House.
Geldard, K.; Geldard, D. & Yin Foo, R. (2013). Children’s Counseling. Iasi: Polirom Publishing House
1 Student 3 year, Faculty of Comunication and International Relations, Specialization Psychology, “Danubius” University of Galati, Romania, Address: 3 Galati Boulevard, 800654 Galati, Romania Tel.: +40.372.361.102, Fax: +40.372.361.290, Corresponding author: email@example.com.
2 Senior Lecturer, PhD, Faculty of Comunication and International Relations, Specialization Psychology, “Danubius” University of Galati, Romania, Address: 3 Galați Boulevard, 800654 Galațti Romania, Tel:+40.372.361.102, Fax:+40.372.361.290, Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Trends in Psychology, Vol. 2, no 1/2020, pp. 52-56