Resisting violence and children
*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037
Violence in children is a complicated issue with many causes. It is easy to point fingers at some of the more obvious potential culprits. For example, television provides a steady diet of violence. It is estimated that by the time children turn 18, they’ve been exposed to 40,000 deaths on TV, usually with no mention of the grieving that families, or when a loved one has died. Similarly, rock music, and rap music most of all often contains lyrics, explicitly, promulgating killing, and other violence. Video games seem to go a step further, they not only are violent, but the player of the game is also the shooter. Movies glorify violent deaths and revenge. The Internet is filled with websites catering violent themes, and even sites that tell a viewer how to make bombs. Guns are easy to get and have become a symbol of rebellion and power among some youth. Schools have become segregated with cliques who intimidate each other, the jock versus the goths, for example, sometimes in brutal ways. Bullies make some children afraid to go to school.
The solutions to the problem of violence and children are not clear, but we know that there is a problem when children start killing other children in their schools. It seems that there is little that one individual can do to turn the largest social tides that underlie this problem. We can, however, take steps within our own homes to reduce the probability of raising children who turn to to violent behavior.
Research studies have shown that aggressive behavior is learned early in life. Parents, family members, and others can take steps to reduce or minimize violence by raising children in a safe, loving and trusting home. We all make mistakes in our lives, and this may seem especially true when it comes to raising children, but trying to do your best can have a great impact on the lives of children. Behavior problems and delinquency are less likely to develop in children, especially at an early age, when they have a parent or other adult who is involved in their lives. Every child needs a consistent, strong, and loving relationship with an adult to develop a sense of trust and feel safe. Without this bond, a child may grow up to become difficult to manage, hostile, and distrustful. It is often a challenge to show love to a child on a consistent basis. If you feel unable to do this, it is helpful to seek the guidance of a therapist who can help you and discover the reasons for this difficulty as well as encourage you in a safe and supportive environment. Children have minds of their own, as they become more independent, they may behave in ways with anger and frustrate you. You need patience and a commitment to see things through their eyes in order to deal with your own feelings. Try not to respond to your child with hostile words and actions. This approach only serves to teach the child that aggressive behavior is a way to deal with emotions.
Children need to be taught that they can stand up to violence. They can learn that it takes more courage to resist violence then to give in to it. They should learn that name calling, bullying and threats can set the scene for violent outcomes, but they can stand up to this in a firm and calm way if it happens to them.
Although we do not have control over all the causes of violence with children, we can at least take steps to help our kids grow up with a sense of love and safety, as well as teach the skills to know how to resist violence in their lives. The rewards of affective parenting are enormous. If your household is characterized by violence, or if your child seems prone to excessive anger or violent behavior, realize that there is effective help through therapy. Our children are our legacy and the future. They deserve love and wisdom that we can pass on to them.