Raising kids is not an easy task. If somebody feels that they are not ready for kids, then they certainly should not have kids. However, many people either don’t know that they’re not ready, or they think they are but are underestimating the work ahead of them. Whatever the case may be, nine times out of ten, aggressive behavior is not only learned incredibly young, like before the kid can talk, but it is often taught by not even saying anything at all. It will be said a couple times throughout this article, but kids are parrots. Anything they see the parents do, or not do, they mimic.
Infants especially are super spongy. That's not a comment on their structure, even though they are incredibly soft and squishy, but a comment on how their brains work. They soak up absolutely everything. Even when they are crying, they are seeing how their parents handle the crying, and what they do to alleviate the situation.
They also observe how the parents act even when they are not interacting with the baby. If they get mad at the TV, or at each other, or at the computer, or the dog, the infant sees that and it registers in their brain, even though they are not conscious of it yet. That is why it is incredibly important to watch behavior around a kid. If somebody wants to raise a good person, they need to be a good person themselves. Here we will discuss some ways in which a person can turn their child into an aggressive savage.
15 Not Providing Proper Nutrition
Something that has been sort of swept under the rug until the past decade or so has been proper nutrition. Even what people thought was good for a long time is now being discovered to be not very good. For instance, it was thought that fat was bad and sugar was not great, but acceptable. Therefore, kids were (and still are, unfortunately) being pumped with sugary, low-fat, high carb diets. This is not a good way to live for anybody.
When we are not provided with the right nutrition, our brains don’t work to their fullest capacity. It makes it more difficult to stay focused, and it causes some pretty serious changes in our moods. This is where a lot of people begin to go off the rails. If they are malnourished as a child, their thinking becomes cloudy, and they are more susceptible to stress. When these thought patterns, and nutritional habits, are established early, they are difficult to overcome as time goes on.
14 Letting Them Hit Others
This is another situation of establishing thought patterns early. If a youngster begins hitting people to express his or her emotions, and it is not corrected, then they don’t know that this isn’t okay. As they are growing up, even if their behavior begins getting checked as time goes on, those early lessons still stick.
This is why, as a parent, people must remain diligent. If someone sees their kid hitting somebody even once, and it is not immediately corrected, then the kid slowly but surely begins to learn that that behavior is acceptable. As time goes on, they will continue to use violence and aggression in an attempt to express themselves. This is often times why it is so difficult to correct the behavior of a small child; once it is ingrained, they will remember it forever.
13 Letting Them Swear
This one is a bit tricky. As time goes on, swear words are losing their power in a lot of places, especially as the younger generations begin to become the older generations. However, there is a time and a place for everything. Nobody wants to be in church and hear somebody talk about their G.D. boss.
Again, it's never too young to train a kid the proper time and place for saying certain words. Kids are parrots. IF they hear their mom or dad, or friend, or uncle, or whoever, say something, they are going to repeat it. That's what they do, that's how they learn words. However, if they drop the f-bomb at a family dinner, then laughing hysterically is not the best way to get them to not do it again. The best bet is to calmly explain to them that there are certain words that should not be said in certain company.
12 Negative Parenting
Negative parenting is a lot like training a dog by yelling and pulling on the leash and things like that. It may get the job done, but it doesn't necessarily make for the best balance between the dog and the owner, or for our purposes, the kid and the parent. In addition to that, when a parent does something, when they react with a negative emotion or get stressed, the kid sees that and then learns that that is the best way to deal with a tough situation.
This problem can start as early as the first few months of an infant's life, according to one study. If someone yells at a baby, or handles them a bit too rough, then those behaviors become ingrained in the infant's psyche. It's important to give love and nothing but love to a person, even if they don't know the words yet. They are a lot like pets, they can pick up stress and negative emotions, even though they can't understand what is being said to them.
11 Not Setting Consistent Limits
This is a tricky one to enforce sometimes. Not necessarily for the parent, but for other people that may take care of the kid. Consistency is important because of the fact that kids learn from the behaviors of adults. They absorb absolutely everything, and they just want the love of their parents, but also the love of who is watching them. IF one person tells them that something is bad, but somebody else tells them it is okay, then that is very confusing for the child.
What that means is that if the kid doesn’t have consistent rules, he won’t really know what is right and what is wrong, and therefore may just go ahead and do whatever he wants. He figures somebody is bound to say it’s okay, even if one or two people may say that it’s not. One thing some parents have found helps with this one is checking in at certain times with whoever is watching their kid. This way everybody is on the same page.
10 Using “Tough” As A Compliment
A lot of kids, especially boys, value being tough. They want to grow up manly, they want to do more masculine things, and they want to be a man's man. The problem with this is, a kid's understanding of what a man is isn't always the most informed. They just know what they see on TV and (these days) on the internet and in video games and whatnot. Their definition of the word "tough" is someone that can take a beating and someone that can hand out a beating.
Therefore, when parents, especially the father, says that their kid is tough, the kid loves that feeling. He wants his father to always call him tough. So, he goes out and tries to prove it. To do this, he punches, he kicks, he bites, he does whatever to prove he’s not a sissy. These behaviors, if not corrected early enough, often follow the kid into adulthood.
9 Aggressive Punishments
This one is sort of a no-brainer. If someone teaches their kid that to correct behavior they don't like, they can bend someone over their knee and smack their bum, then, of course, the kid will think that that is acceptable. Although this is a fairly new concept in the parenting world, it is one that is widely accepted now.
It doesn’t end with physical punishment though. If a parent is yelling at the child all the time for every little thing that the kid does wrong, then that is the sort of behavior a kid learns. Yelling and screaming is not a good way to get what anybody wants, and that is no real secret. If somebody wants to be treated with respect, then they need to show some respect. It’s a two way street, and that is something that a person should learn when they are young, and who better to learn it from than their parents.
8 Losing Temper Around Kid
This is sort of in the same vein as the last one. In this case, however, it is not necessarily directed at the kid. According to a study published in Psychology Today, children definitely learn from the behavior that they witness. The woman who conducted the study says that it is important to note that aggressive behavior, such as losing one's temper, doesn’t necessarily need to be directed at a kid for them to pick up on this behavior.
This study utilized something called Bobo the Clown. There were different groups of adults who treated the clown differently. Some yelled at him, some kicked and punched him, and others acted peacefully towards the clown. As she expected, the kids mimicked the behavior of the adults that were in their group. This is concrete evidence of the fact that kids learn from their environment.
7 Not Teaching Self Control
Again, we can look at the study of Bobo the Clown. The kids that watched their adults restrain themselves, and treat Bobo like a normal being, also treated the inflatable doll with respect. This can be translated into the learned behavior of self control. If the parents of a kid demonstrate self-control, and are able to restrain themselves in stressful situations, then the kid will learn that that is the proper social behavior.
On the flip side, if parents are constantly reacting to every situation rather than actively making decisions based on reason, then kids learn that that is appropriate behavior as well. Again, let’s look at Bobo. It’s hard to say exactly what the setup of the study was, having not been there, but the kids witnessed the adults' behavior, and they then began to internalize the adults' actions as appropriate behavior.
6 Not Teaching The Use Of Words
Everybody gets angry sometimes. It’s a completely natural emotion, and it would actually be alarming if there were somebody out there who never felt anger. It comes down to the ability to not only recognize that anger, but to actively work on not flipping out, and using words to express the feelings properly.
A lot of people will run into a conflict or a difference in opinion with somebody. There are pretty much three options here: one, the person could get all mad and start throwing punches. Two, they could just walk away, but running away from problems isn’t really a good thing either. Or, the third option, the two individuals could have a civilized discussion, “well I didn’t like that for this reason,” or something like that. That is the most adult, mature, and respectable way to handle issues like that.
5 Not Teaching Patience
Kids mirror the behavior of the parents, that’s how they learn about the proper way to handle things. Therefore, if one or both of the parents is incredibly impatient, then the kid will learn that that is the way to be. They won’t bother learning patience, as they see Mom or Dad constantly loudly sighing, or yelling at the computer if it loads too slowly, and they think that Mom or Dad has it all together.
Sandra Turner Brown of the University of Memphis has said that young children who are around violent behavior a lot, whether it be a parent, or a friend’s parent, etc., also tends to exhibit violent behavior. That is proof that children mirror the actions of the adults in their lives. She goes on to say that these behaviors learned at a young age become more and more difficult to correct, and if they are still present at age eight, they are borderline impossible to change.
4 Not Teaching Empathy
Empathy is incredibly important, especially when dealing with behavioral problems. If someone can’t see where their adversary is coming from, then they quickly turn into an enemy. It’s a big problem amongst the macho bully types. They are insecure about themselves, or their home life, but they can’t see things from the other kid’s side of the story, so it just becomes a battle.
Again we can look at the opinion held by Sandra Brown. According to her, if a sense of empathy is not taught by about age eight, then it’s a good chance the kid will have a skewed idea of what empathy is for the rest of his life. If he sees his parents acting insensitively towards someone just because for who they are, and don’t seem to be able to put themselves in the shoes of anybody else, then there is a good chance that that kid will share the same opinions.
3 Not Being Affectionate
This is one of the biggest factors in kids becoming aggressive, and keeping their aggressive behaviors as time goes on. If a child isn’t shown enough care and affection by their parents at home, then they are most likely going to lash out. This is where a lot of the bully mentality comes from; their parents either don’t love them, or don’t act like they love them, or don’t give them enough attention, so they are seeking all these things through different outlets.
Peaceful parenting is all the rage these days. There are movements to use only positive parenting methods, and the reasoning behind this is the belief that not enough care and affection skews a kid's sense of morality. Even when kids do something wrong, it is important for parents to let them know that just because they are mad, doesn’t mean they don’t love the kid anymore. There is a popular saying “I hate what you did, I don’t hate you.”
2 Not Letting Them Burn Off Energy
Kids, these days, in particular, do not always have an outlet where they can burn off some of their energy. They are eating sugary foods and sitting all day long, so they have this deep, burning energy inside of them that they don't really know what to do with. So, a child may resort to aggressive outlets to burn some of that energy because it's just being bundled up inside.
However, sign that same child up for a Tae Kwon Do class or soccer or football. Now he will not only have an outlet for his energy, but he will learn some discipline, and maybe even a thing or two about proper nutrition. If activities and sports are too demanding, financially, then parents can try taking walks with their child. That sort of thing too gives them an opportunity to strengthen the bond with their parents, which is always a good thing.
1 Not Validating Good Behavior
There is a saying in the dog training world that really resonates with raising kids as well: stop reacting to bad behavior and ignoring good behavior. In the case of dogs, that means if they sit and stay, most of the time people ignore it, but if they chew on something they get yelled at. Even though this is negative attention, it is still attention, and dogs crave that. Kids are exactly the same way. If their parents never talk to them except when they are acting aggressively, then the kid is going to act aggressively.
If children aren’t told when they are doing something right, then they may feel either under-appreciated, or they may feel that there is no point in doing the good thing. Therefore, they say forget this, and they start drawing on the walls. If the only time their parents are talking to the kid is when they are yelling at him, then the child will probably keep doing the bad stuff. All kids want is the attention of their parents, and they will get it in any way that they can.
Sources: ScientificAmerican.com, HealthCentral.com, OneTimeThrough.com, LiveScience.com, Parents.com, PsychologyToday.com