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Childhood aggression may have a hidden cause

You find yourself at the end of your rope. Your child repeatedly gets in trouble at school and lashes out, perhaps violently, at the slightest provocation. You’ve tried time-outs and revoked their internet or television privileges to no avail. Nothing seems to correct their bad behavior at school.

The aggression is mystifying; how could your child, who you know to have a kind heart, act so hostile toward teachers and other children? The cause of their misbehavior might not be apparent until further investigation by a psychologist.

Why more punishment might not work

Sometimes, violence is merely a symptom of a bigger problem. While punishments may correct the behavior of most children over time, some children need a different approach. This is especially true when the root of the problem is related to factors that the child can’t necessarily control, including mental illness.

For example, in a recent Miami incident, police handcuffed a 7-year-old boy – for the second time – after he attacked someone at school. When the police called his parents, they urged them to take the boy to a psychologist for an evaluation. Although his parents argued over whether to allow it, police determined that the child was too dangerous, so they admitted him to the hospital.

What parents can do

While the school’s previous efforts to punish the child did not work, therapy may have the potential to help the child get back on track for a successful education. However, many schools are likely to keep doling out suspensions rather than help children access the care they need. This can severely hurt their education record and limit future opportunities.

If your child is consistently acting out, you may want to consider making an appointment with a therapist who specializes in working with children. Your child might suffer from bullying, abuse, a mental disorder or developmental issues. At a young age, they probably lack the ability to properly express the obstacles they face.

These problems do not make you a bad parent. Instead, you have the chance to address the actual cause. Seeking professional mental and legal help can make a world of difference for both of you. Obtaining a diagnosis can help your child receive proper treatment and may even help you appeal their suspension in court.

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