Struggling with children’s aggression can be frustrating and stressful. It presses your patience, resilience, and sense of optimism. However, it is reversible through replacing these pressures with constructive, positive, and problem-solving thoughts!
Sometimes, it is typical for children to yell, kick, and use their bodies when they feel overwhelmed by emotions. It can be more complicated for children with special needs to deal with emotions because they are more likely to have cognitive and vocabulary skills challenges. Young children may also lash out when frustrated by problems they consider beyond their capability. In other cases, they show aggression because they don’t know how to control their impulses or solve conflicts in a socially acceptable manner.
Young children with special needs struggle with language skills development, while others experience learning, emotional, and behavioral disorders that cause high levels of frustration, anger, or anxiety. Stressful life events, attention deficits, hyperactivity, emotional regulation disorder, and autistic systems can also cause them to show aggression. The good news is that adults can significantly influence their outbursts for a better outcome when triggered. Don’t give up!
Best Practices for Special Needs Children 3-6 years old
Model Preferred Behavior
Model behavior that you want to see in your family. First, we must understand our triggers and find proactive ways to support and manage those challenging moments. We always suggest pausing for 3 hours to 3 days before responding to trigger feelings. Let your child see that you can control your emotions and temper; eventually, they will learn to take control of their own emotions.
It’s Not Personal!
The most complex feeling to contain. Our children show us every part of them, and that’s a compliment. It means they trust you, too, but at their worst. But it’s only human to feel disrespected when your child refuses to comply with your request. You may also feel triggered by your child’s rage, yet these emotional reactions are unrelated to you as a parent. Children’s processing of emotions is different from that of adults, and they barely understand their feelings. Your special needs child’s behavior primarily reflects incompetence or impulsivity but not malice. Not taking your child’s aggression personally improves your mood and builds a better relationship with your child. It is also suitable for your child’s coping and long-term development.
Utilize Positive Reinforcements
We all respond better to positive comments and get elated by positive feedback than negative ones. Our children are the same. Negative feedback leaves them in a pessimistic state of mind, while positive feedback makes them happy. Positive reinforcement means rewarding your child for appropriate behavior. Giving your child immediate rewards can help them greatly and motivate them not to engage in negative behaviors.
Positive reinforcement to your unique needs child improves their mental health and motivates their desire to succeed. You also offer them an opportunity to celebrate their abilities and skills despite their shortcomings—positive reinforcement further advocates for special needs children’s sense of belonging, pride, and happiness.
Be realistic about your child’s ability to follow and comply with rules and requests. Young children, let alone those with special needs, have a short attention span and get distracted easily. Your child has a limited ability to process information and remember things. This age group requires more practice than older children to understand instruction. Offer your child straightforward directions, and give them more time if they need to switch gears. Such an environment will cause them to feel understood, hence minimizing their aggression and impulsivity.
Maintain Positive Relationship
Getting caught up and creating a routine around misbehaving is so easy. Don’t forget about the great moments, simple ones, and everything in between. Parents tend to focus more on conflicts when dealing with misbehaving kids. They find themselves answering every offense with punishment or criticism, which fosters a negative relationship. Research indicates that children learn desirable social skills when provided positive feedback, over sentences, and correcting wrongdoings. Negativity can also increase a child’s defiance and aggression. Choose your battles wisely and avoid prosecuting every failure or mistake as a special needs parent.
Best Practices for Special Needs Children 6-11 years old
Children within this age group experience many environmental, physical, and emotional changes. Tantrums or aggressive outbursts are common in this age. It is vital not to traumatize the child by being too harsh. It is best to ignore the tantrum since negative attention can encourage more aggression if it is not severe. Below are some tips for dealing with attacks among special needs children aged six.
Understand their Triggers
It is common for children with special needs to be oversensitive. They are easily provoked by things around them, such as bright colors, noises, screams, and strange people in their space, among other triggers! Anything can trigger aggression in a special needs child and cause them a lot of frustration. It would help if you were keen on identifying what causes your child’s anger outbursts and working on eliminating them.
Deal with Root Causes
Identify the root cause of your child’s aggression and deal with it. For example, if the root cause of their aggression is low self-esteem, tackle the issue of low self-esteem, and the charge will reduce automatically. Most of the deeply entrenched attack causes may cause children to be stubborn and sometimes violent since they don’t know how to handle them. Be keen on your child’s reaction to understand what needs to be solved. Aggression will depart from your child once you help them deal with the root causes.
Consider Clinical Evaluation
Besides environmental triggers and causes, your child’s aggression could be genetic or inherited. Impulsiveness, IED, and mood disorders, among other mental and neurological conditions, could also cause it. Taking a child for medical evaluation is essential to identify if they have any of these co-occurring conditions. Through clinical assessment and intervention, you will help them deal better with their episodes of aggression. Profession counseling and therapy services play a significant role in dealing with special needs children’s aggressive tendencies.
Utilize Behavior Modification Techniques
Behavior modification techniques such as physical activities and calming meditative exercises can help burn off your child’s bad energy. Introduce some fun physical activities within their capabilities or engage them in exciting meditation and yoga to help them deal with negative emotions. You can also play some therapy techniques to provide the channels to let out suppressed feelings. For example, they can write a bad memory or experience on an air balloon and let it go. Ensure they understand the therapy techniques’ logic; otherwise, they won’t be effective.
It is common for special needs kids to behave aggressively to themselves and the people around them. You must understand the triggers and causes of their aggression to help them succeed. However, an experienced professional such as a psychologist can help you manage and understand your child’s aggression, especially if all the other strategies have failed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How should I handle my autistic child’s unwanted physical behavior?
Proactive actions are always the best approach.
If you know the child’s triggers:
– Preview and prepare the child before any activity or event they may be considered unfavorable.
– Inform the child about the differences and reward them if they effectively handle the change.
– Use social narratives or stories to help your child address challenges
– Let the support team around the child know how to deal with them and that these events may used as triggered. Share with them what are the best tools to approach them or let the child calm down themselves, depending on the trigger.
I am worried my child might cause harm to himself or others. What should I do?
If you are not sure what to do, start by calling 911.
If your child is injuring themselves or other people around them, make sure you mention that your child has a disability.
For all other cases, Start by communicating clearly and with a calm voice to calm their reaction down. For example, talk about your child’s favorite toy.
Who can help me develop strategies to calm down my child’s aggression?
We recommended approaching a behavior therapist to design your child-specific method.
Although you may get a head start from the child’s school teacher behavior specialist, those tools can only used for a short period or until you meet a behavior therapist.
Some school districts may provide local training to reduce aggression on special needs children.
A Word from Kids on the Yard
It is an understatement to say that parents of special needs children go through many difficulties. We can help you meet your child’s academic needs and deal with their aggression! Contact us today to see how our team can provide the right program for your child. Our educational team will take you through a free 30-minute session to help you understand our pricing, learning support needs, perfect match, schedule, and Shadow Teacher Skills, among other services.