Aggression and Child

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

All people have aggressive feelings. As adults, we learn how to control these feelings. Children, however, are often physically aggressive – they hit, bite and scratch others. Many different situations and emotions can trigger children’s fighting. There may be underlying psychological motives, or there may not. Parents often struggle over how to manage their child's aggressive and/or destructive behavior.

Sibling rivalry is a normal part of life in families with more than one child. Brothers and sisters do fight, but parents don’t have to stay and listen to them! Kids should be allowed to work out their problems on their own, and parents should intervene only if the battles get physically or verbally abusive.

Families can establish rules for getting along with others, such as no name calling, hitting or teasing. Parents can set an example through their own behavior but should remember that it’s normal for siblings to fight. If children are fighting merely to get attention from parents, don’t give them the motivation. Don’t get too involved and let kids to sort out their issues. If two kids are fighting over the toy, and you want to resolve the issue, they would both want you on their side.

What to do when children fight?

If a child has a persistent problem with fighting or aggressive behavior, parents should seek professional assistance from a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of behavior problems in children.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,