The Roots of Childhood Aggression, and How to Handle Them With Compassion, by Alicia Lord

Why do aggressive behaviors occur? Like all other behaviors, aggression is a means to an end. A child is engaging in verbal or physical aggression because it is benefiting them in some way. They may be fulfilling a need or desire, attempting to self-protect, or attempting to get contact and connection. There are a variety of internal and external experiences that may precede the actual behaviors.

Aggression as protection

Aggression plays the role of evolutionary protector. When the body perceives danger, it has three options: fight, flight, or freeze. The fight instinct results in aggression. An important piece to note here is the word perceives. In addition to the basic instincts of the human body, each person has their own set of cues and triggers to indicate danger based on past experiences. This means that someone can perceive they are in danger in a situation where danger is not obvious to others.

Some triggers may be noticeable and easy to conceptualize, while others may be more difficult – or even impossible. If a child experiences a car accident and then subsequently throws a tantrum each time he is forced to get into the car, it will likely be easy for adults to understand why the tantrum is happening.

Some triggers, however, are not so simple. You may never be able to deduce what conditioned them to exist. Some children, especially those who have experienced interpersonal trauma, perceive a threat in a specific tone of voice, or very subtle body language. Regardless of the specifics, what is important with this type of aggression is to understand that it comes from a place of life-threatening fear.

(To read more of this post, please follow the link below…)

http://www.parent.co/roots-childhood-aggression-handle-compassion/?utm_source=newsletter_235&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pcodaily&utm_source=Parent+Co.+Daily&utm_campaign=a726aea331-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_03_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3f341b94dd-a726aea331-132097649

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Simplifying Childhood may protect against Mental Health issues, by Tracy Gillett

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When my Dad was growing up he had one jumper each winter. One. Total.

He remembers how vigilantly he cared for his jumper. If the elbows got holes in them my Grandma patched them back together. If he lost his jumper he’d recount his steps to find it again. He guarded it like the precious gift it was.

He had everything he needed and not a lot more. The only rule was to be home by dinner time. My Grandma rarely knew exactly where her kids were.

They were off building forts, making bows and arrows, collecting bruises and bloody knees and having the time of their lives. They were immersed in childhood.

But the world has moved on since then. We’ve become more sophisticated. And entered a unique period in which, rather than struggling to provide enough parents are unable to resist providing too much. In doing so, we’re unknowingly creating an environment in which mental health issues flourish.

When I read Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting one message leapt off the page. Normal personality quirks combined with the stress of “too much” can propel children into the realm of disorder. A child who is systematic may be pushed into obsessive behaviours. A dreamy child may lose the ability to focus.

Payne conducted a study in which he simplified the lives of children with attention deficit disorder. Within four short months 68% went from being clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional. The children also displayed a 37% increase in academic and cognitive aptitude, an effect not seen with commonly prescribed drugs like Ritalin.

As a new parent I find this both empowering and terrifying. We officially have a massive opportunity and responsibility to provide an environment in which our children can thrive physically, emotionally and mentally.

So, what are we getting wrong and how can we fix it?

THE BURDEN OF TOO MUCH

Early in his career, Payne volunteered in refugee camps in Jakarta, where children were dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. He describes them as, “jumpy, nervous, and hyper-vigilant, wary of anything novel or new.”

Years later Payne ran a private practice in England, where he recognized many affluent English children were displaying the same behavioural tendencies as the children living in war zones half a world away. Why would these children living perfectly safe lives show similar symptoms?

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

http://raisedgood.com/extraordinary-things-happen-when-we-simplify-childhood/

Being Left Out Hurts: Moms, Stop ‘Social Engineering’, by Lisa Barr

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I heard a disturbing story recently from a friend, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It went something like this … the camp buses were leaving for an overnight camp in the Midwest, and one Mom somehow had access to get on one of the buses before departure. She literally managed to rope off (save) an entire section for eight 11-year-old girls. She stayed on the bus while the “Chosen 8” boarded and sat in their “designated” seats. Another girl, a new camper, got on the bus, who was the same age, and asked if she could join “those” girls. The Mom responded: “I’m sorry, but it’s reserved” and then she got off.

The clique had been formed and there was no room for “intruders.” (I’ll get to that Mom a little later…)

The new girl, let’s call her Sarah, had been given three simultaneous messages: 1. You are not invited. 2. You are not good enough. 3. This is “The Group” — and you are not part of it, so don’t even try.

One of the main reasons I started my blog GIRLilla Warfare ( www.girlillawarfare.com) was because of the overabundance of Middle School war stories that I had been hearing from so many moms. Same story, different players. And I hate to say this, but the root of this particular social evil, is usually (sadly) initiated by a group of Moms. One of our GW writers pointed out in another blog, that those Moms decide who is IN and who is OUT. It is political, and it is what we at GIRLilla Warfare call “Suburban Social Engineering” which ends up causing many children deep, unnecessary pain.

Don’t get me wrong. Many kids choose to be with whom they feel most comfortable, and that’s totally acceptable. It’s the piece in which the Moms not only helicopter but also patrol kids’ potential friendships that I’m focusing on here.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

How to Stop Yelling at Children Once and for All, by Jennifer Poindexter

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You are doing it again!

Yelling at your children over big things, little things, and all things in between.

But why?

Why do we parents feel the need to yell when our point isn’t getting across?

Why do we have to resort to screaming to get our kids’ attention?

The reality is—we don’t have to. We are making rash decisions in difficult moments that are teaching our children bad habits.

Janet Lehman, a veteran social worker who she specializes in child behavior issues says:

“When chronic screaming becomes the norm, children are also apt to think it’s okay for them to scream all the time, too. You’re teaching your kids that screaming is a suitable response when you’re frustrated or overwhelmed. It doesn’t teach anything positive, just that life is out of control—and emotionally, you’re out of control.”

Wow—that hits home!

Believe me, I am not judging.

I was (probably) the world’s worst about yelling when my kids did something wrong, wouldn’t listen, talk back, seemed defiant — the list could go on and on.

I was a chronic yeller.

But I had a terrible wake up call when I ended up in the middle of a feud that happened in my extended family. Though this person was totally out of line when making accusatory statements, one thing that was said to me was, “Well, you’re a horrible mother because I’ve heard you yell a lot!”

Ouch!

What could I say? “No, I’m not a horrible mother! I am just human”? But I did yell a lot!

That hit me right between the eyes, and I woke up. I decided from that day forward I was going to work on not yelling.

I was going to conquer this horrible habit I had developed.

Not because this person was wrongfully judging me, and I didn’t want it to happen again. (I mean, no one wants that, but you can’t please everyone either.)

But because I was and am a good mom, and I want a better relationship with my children than that!

So if you are in the same boat as I was, I want to share with you a few tips I used to stop yelling at my kids once and for all.

#1 Know What Sets You Off And Nip It

We all have pet peeves. We are human after all.

There are certain things that happen throughout a day that just grind your gears.

Inevitably, the ones we love most are going to find a few of those gears and start grinding away at them.

You need to start realizing what those things are.

The reason is because those ‘gears’ are what is going to trigger you losing your cool and raising your voice.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

afineparent.com/stop-yelling-at-kids/yelling-at-children.html

“The Dunedin Study”: Early Indicators/ Risk Factors of Criminality in Our Children… and what we can do about it, By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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Continuing  our series of articles on findings discovered by the “Dunedin Longitudinal Study”

Our previous article about “The Dunedin Longitudinal Study” focused on the five personality types identified by the study: “Well Adjusted”, “Confident”,”Reserved”, “Undercontrolled” and “Inhibited”.  These are divided among the population as shown in the pie chart below (with some overlaps).

Pie 2

As discussed, study findings were that these personality types were fixed and could be identified in very young children.  Of the five types, “Undercontrolled” (10%) and “Inhibited” (7% of the total population) were the two conducive to what was called a “negative life outcome”, that is causing great angst, anxiety and unhappiness to both those with the personality type and to those around them.

“Inhibited”individuals tend to be overcome by shyness and social awkwardness to the point where they “hide from the world” and frequently struggle to complete High School, gain tertiary qualifications, maintain jobs or enter into (let alone maintain) relationships.  In general, “Inhibited”individuals are not, however, a “threat to society” and their personality trait, while harmful to themselves and concerning for those who love them, is not “dangerous”.

David Gray

David Gray

We say “in general”, because there are cases of such individuals “coming out of their shells” (as they are frequently hermits or recluses) and becoming violent, such as in the case of David Gray, who killed 13 people in the well-known Aramoana Massacre near Dunedin, New Zealand in 1990.

This article focuses on the 10% of the population classified as “Undercontrolled”, because these individuals have been shown to have the greatest tendency towards life outcomes which present not only  as negative for themselves, but frequently as criminal and violent.

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Nature vs Nurture

Before going on to look at the “Undercontrolled” group in more detail, however, we at “The Forever Years” would also like to re-emphasise that, while the personality types are fixed, according to “The Dunedin Study”, whether or not those young children who present as”Undercontrolled” or “Inhibited”manifest a “negative life outcome” is hugely dependent on nurture (and we will discuss the nurturing of “Undercontrolled” children, in particular, in more detail below) as well as on “Self Control” (which is itself unfixed and can be strengthened with nurture, and which we will discuss in a later article).  Nature loads the gun, but nurture decides whether or not the trigger is pulled.

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A homeless man

Study Director Professor Richie Poulton says that one of the biggest reasons for the credibility of “The Dunedin Study” findings (and part of the reason it is now an internationally recognised “gold standard” in human development), is that for more than 40 years 96% of the original participants (all born in 1972-3 in Dunedin, New Zealand) have remained involved.  Poulton says that these people range across all social strata, from top government employees and professionals through to the homeless, incarcerated, or those in institutional care.

downloadStudy findings showed that children identified as being in the “Undercontrolled” group for personality were frequently in trouble with the law by the time they reached their teenage years.  A pattern of criminality continued, often accelerating until they ended up being incarcerated for long periods of time, for more serious crimes, at some point before their thirties.  Five percent of individuals, the study discovered, were responsible for 50% of society’s crimes.  These individuals were also, mostly, males– as was identified when they were three years old.

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Map showing the location of Pittsburgh in the USA

Because of concerns expressed that these may be “Dunedin only” statistics and that they perhaps applied only to this particular group of people born in the early 1970s, Dr. Terrie Moffat, Associate Director of “The Dunedin Study”, decided to do the experiment with boys growing up in inner-city Pittsburgh, in the USA.  These young men were living  thousands of miles away from New Zealand, were born in a different era and were of a different ethnic makeup (half of the Pittsburgh participants were African American). Findings in the Pittsburgh study were, however, always exactly parallel to those in “The Dunedin Study”: 50% of crimes were perpetrated by 5% of males and the most delinquent boys came from the most disadvantaged social backgrounds.  These findings demonstrate that there are fundamental truths (personality type, social background… nature plus nurture, if you like) driving all human behaviour, regardless of nationality or ethnic background.

Lower socioeconomic area in urban Pittsburgh

Lower socioeconomic area in urban Pittsburgh (Source: Google images)

There only differences between “The Dunedin Study” and the Pittsburgh study were in homicide and suicide.  While assault rates tended to be identical in both cities, homicide rates were higher in Pittsburgh.  This followed through from the easier access to lethal weapons for youth in the USA, which converted what would otherwise have been assaults into homicides.  The youth suicide rate was shown to be higher in Dunedin, which researchers believe may be due to a down turn in the New Zealand economy at the time when study members were leaving school and seeking out employment.  Overall, a comparison of the studies undertaken in Dunedin and Pittsburgh, as well as other similar studies of youth in various developed nations around the globe, indicates that concerns about “The Dunedin Study” findings not being relevant elsewhere can now be conclusively ruled out.  These findings, moreover, led to “The Dunedin Study” being awarded the Stockholm Prize for research into criminality  in 2007 and the Jacob Prize for groundbreaking research into youth offending in 2010.

When thinking in particular about children who present with the “Undercontrolled” personality type then, what practical measures will best help in improving possible “life outcomes”?  Some of these are summarised below:

  •  “Early intervention” (meaning protection from abuse or neglect) for identified vulnerable children.  Children with a  personality type identified as being “Undercontrolled” who are were also victims of abuse or neglect were highly likely to become involved in criminal behaviour as teenagers or adults, according to study findings.  The earlier the intervention the better.
  •  Support for those identified as “Undercontrolled” in personality type, as well as for their parents, carers and educators.  This would involve setting boundaries and developing the all-important quality of Self Control, which unlike personality type, is not fixed.  We will discuss the importance of Self Control in a later article.
  • Kids doing Karate (Source: Google images).

    Kids doing Karate (Source: Google images).

    Practical “outlets” for “Undercontrolled” children to develop self-discipline and self-regulation skills… particularly in “Undercontrolled” males, sports and / or martial arts were shown to be helpful.

  • Socialisation goals and monitoring for depression in “Inhibited” children, who tend to “retreat into themselves” during their teens if not adequately supported.  Socialisation goals can include “challenges” such as camping trips, overseas experiences for teens and group activities, whilst balancing this with a respect for the reserved nature of these children, but hopefully resulting in them developing into “Reserved” rather than “Inhibited” individuals, in terms of personality type.

    Kids camping.  Source: Google images.

    Kids camping. Source: Google images.

  • Investment by governments in Early Childhood Education in particular, but also in education at all levels.
  • A raising of awareness among parents, carers and educators of the different personality types and how each type is best nurtured, especially the “at risk” personality types (“Undercontrolled” and “Inhibited” ).  This would include emphasising the importance of structure, routine and predictability for the “at risk” group of children, who tend not to thrive when circumstances are changeable or random.

Professor James Heckman, at the Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Chicago says, “if we understand what makes people ‘successful’ or ‘unsuccessful’, then we have a powerful new tool for tackling major social issues.”  Heckman says that in areas such as criminology, health and education problems have traditionally been treated “as they appear”, but now we can identify “at risk” individuals very early on… and hopefully apply study findings into real life applications which will alter these life trajectories… and, in doing so, also be immensely beneficial not only to these individuals, but also to society as a whole.

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All you need is Love Bombing, by Oliver James, psychologist

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In March 2010 I received an email from Miranda. She wrote that her son Tim, nine, “seems to not like himself and has no focus. He says he hates himself and that he’s rubbish at everything”. A bright boy, Tim refused to do his homework and was prone to temper tantrums.

The solution I proposed was love bombing, a method I developed to reset the emotional thermostats of children aged three to puberty. It entails spending a period of time alone with your child, offering them unlimited love and control. It works for a wide variety of common problems, severe or mild; from defiant – even violent – aggression to shyness, sleeping problems or underperformance at school.

This is not the same as “quality time” – just hanging out with your child. When you love bomb, you create a special emotional zone wholly different from normal life, with new rules. More than 100 families have tried it, nearly all with positive results.

So, how exactly does it work? First, you explain to your child that, sometime soon, the two of you are going to spend time together, one to one, and have a lot of fun. Your child is going to decide what they want and when they want it, within reason. You give the message that this is going to be a Big Event: It’s Coming Soon … How Exciting! The child then draws up a list of things to do. It doesn’t matter if it includes lots of SpongeBob SquarePants: the key is that your child has chosen it.

Throughout the experience, you are trying, as much as possible, to give them the feeling of “whatever I want, I get” – of being in control and of being gratified, as well as bombed with love.

You may be thinking: Is he mad? My child is a tyrant – rewarding him like that is just going to make it even worse! This is understandable. Love bombing seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, which often recommends more control, not less, when a child is not complying, and stricter, firmer reactions to undesirable behaviour.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/22/oliver-james-love-bombing-children

In Loving Memory of Nia Glassie and so many others… a Song and an Article for Child Abuse Prevention Month

As we move into April, international Child Abuse Prevention Month, this article challenges us to dare NOT to turn a blind eye and to protect all our children, everywhere.

The Forever Years

Nia Collage

By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

In 2008 New Zealanders were outraged as they heard details of the death of three year old Rotorua girl Nia Glassie.  Nia was subject to extensive physical abuse for weeks, possibly even months, before being admitted to hospital and dying of brain injuries on 3 August 2007. The court concluded she had been kicked, beaten, slapped, jumped on, held over a burning fire, had wrestling moves copied from a computer game practiced on her, spat on, placed into a clothes dryer spinning at top heat for up to 30 minutes, folded into a sofa and sat on, shoved into piles of rubbish, dragged through a sandpit half-naked, flung against a wall, dropped from a height onto the floor, and whirled rapidly on an outdoor rotary clothes line until she fell off. (Source: Wikipedia, see link below).

CAP monthAs we move to the end of April as Child Abuse Prevention…

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What if Parents Talked to Each Other the Way We Talk to Our Kids? By Jim and Lynne Jackson

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Recently someone sent us this video from comedic mom group “The Break Womb” entitled, “What If Moms Talked to Each Other The Way They Talk to Their Kids…” It’s pretty funny, but it’s also a good reminder of how the way we talk to our kids can be subtly condescending or shaming. Take a look!

Apply It Now:

  • Did you find yourself wincing a little at anything in this video? What was it, and why did it make you wince?

(Read more at…)

http://connectedfamilies.org/2015/11/17/what-if-parents-talked-to-each-other-the-way-we-talk-to-our-kids/?utm_source=Parenting+Tips&utm_campaign=d3acbdc5ab-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9761ad5dc1-d3acbdc5ab-59227453

Stop Calling Children Nasty Names, by Amanda, Children’s Mental Health Counselor, from her blog “Dirt and Boogers”

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The other day I was at a baby shower for a friend of mine.  A guest shows up late and loudly exclaims

“I’m sorry I’m late, but my kids were being such assholes!”

She laughs and continues on about how her children just feel the need to be “needy little bastards”.  As she’s saying this she’s laughing and encouraging the other women in the group to agree with her.

I’m standing there, with a fake smile on my face, trying not to seem shocked.

You see, I have a very hard time when parents speak so negatively about their kids.

Our Thoughts Become Our Actions

Throughout my time working as a therapist, I’ve learned how powerful our thoughts are.  When we attach negative thoughts to things, we will treat those things worse than if we think positively about them.  This is true for ourselves, our husbands, and our kids.

If we think that our kids are assholes and bastards, we will treat them as such.  We will not have as much patience, we will not be as kind, and the relationship can easily be strained because of it.

Even though I know this Mom is struggling, I can’t help but think that if she was able to change her thought patterns that she might have an easier time with her children.

Like this…

“My child is not giving me a hard time.  My child is having a hard time.”

It’s About Respect

For me, I try very hard to respect the people in my life. This means that I speak about them in a respectful manner.

Calling anyone in my family an asshole or bastard to someone else is not respectful at all. If I wouldn’t say those things with them standing in front of me, than I won’t say it to a group of people.

The last thing I want is for people to have negative impressions of my kids before they even meet them.

If I go around calling them names and telling everyone about how horrible they are, I’m setting them up to be disliked before they even have a chance.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://dirtandboogers.com/watch-what-you-say-about-kids/?utm_source=letslassothemoon.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_module

How to raise an overactive child The joys and challenges of raising a kid who is more intense, more energetic and more persistent than average, by Lisa Bendall

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When Jennifer Weiss of Airdrie, Alta., put a dish of parsnips on the family dinner table for the first time, eight-year-old Mackenzie went from calmly chatting to a total meltdown. “He was adamant, arms crossed, tears rolling down his face,” Weiss says. Mackenzie’s mood swings, she says, are typically intense: “from happy as can be to a pile on the floor — screaming that life is unfair and we hate him — in seconds.”

Like 10 percent of all children, Mackenzie, a sweet, loving boy, is what is known as a “spirited child.” These are the kids we refer to as “challenging,” “strong-willed” or worse — traditionally they’ve been slapped with labels like “difficult” or “problem child.” Spirited children may be more intense, more persistent and more energetic than average. “These kids live life bigger and bolder than other kids,” says Michael Popkin, author of Taming the Spirited Child. This can mean they’re enthusiastic and determined. But when they’re little, this temperament often translates into behaviour that’s frustrating for parents — for example, a baby who screams when you don’t hold him, a toddler who never sits still, or a preschooler who falls to pieces because her sandwich was cut into triangles instead of diamonds.

“It’s natural for a parent to wonder: ‘Did I do something to make him act that way?’ But parents need to know it’s not their fault that their child is spirited,” says Sara King, a child psychologist at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. “It’s just the way that genetics and environment mix up in that particular child.”

Parents of spirited kids can learn how to manage this temperament. And as your child gets more independent, he’ll start doing these tricks to help himself. “Right now it’s driving you crazy,” says Popkin. “But if that child learns to use those traits constructively, they’ll be real assets for the child in the future.”

Energy

Spirited kids seem to have extra batteries. They’re hands-on involved with what’s going on around them. When my spirited daughter was younger, it was a Herculean effort to get her to sit for long at the dinner table, and even as she tried to settle in bed, her legs kept moving.

Why it’s a good thing This is a child who’s brimming with energy, is curious about the world and may be driven to excel in sports.

What to do “I’m a great believer in letting your kids play outside in the backyard,” says King. “Let them go to a space where it’s OK to be running around and burning off that energy.” Make sure it’s safe. You can also enrol your child in soccer, karate or hockey, providing him with a positive outlet for his high activity level.

Of course, there are times when even busy children are going to have to sit still. Calgary parent educator Celia Osenton says it helps to give your kid frequent breaks to move about. “Do things in small blocks,” she says. Suggest that the teacher give your child excuses to be mobile, picking him to hand out papers or collect the crayons. At the supper table, he can be the designated gofer if someone wants more milk or needs something from the kitchen.

What not to do Don’t set your child up for failure. If you know his energy is off the charts, don’t expect him to sit through a four-hour car trip without frequent stops, or walk sedately by your side in the grocery store. It just ain’t gonna happen.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://www.todaysparent.com/kids/preschool/how-to-raise-an-overactive-child/