16 November 2010

Violence in kids: the signs

Are your toddler’s temper tantrums so severe that you worry? Does your child come home with bruises from a fight? We list the warning signs for potential violence in children.


Are your toddler’s temper tantrums so severe that you worry she may become aggressive when she’s older? Has your eight year old come home from school with bruises because he’s been in a fight once again?

Many parents worry that these early signs may indicate that their children will grow up to be aggressive, violent adults. When should you be concerned?

The American Psychological Association lists potential warning signs for violence in children.

Warning signs in the toddler and preschool child:

  • Has many temper tantrums in a single day or several lasting more than 15 minutes, and often cannot be calmed by parents, family members, or other caregivers;
  • Has many aggressive outbursts, often for no reason;
  • Is extremely active, impulsive, and fearless;
  • Consistently refuses to follow directions and listen to adults;
  • Does not seem attached to parents; for example, does not touch, look for, or return to parents in strange places;
  • Frequently watches violence on television, engages in play that has violent themes, or is cruel toward other children.

Warning signs in the school-aged child:

  • Has trouble paying attention and concentrating;
  • Often disrupts classroom activities;
  • Does poorly in school;
  • Frequently gets into fights with other children in school;
  • Reacts to disappointments, criticism, or teasing with extreme and intense anger, blame, or revenge;
  • Watches many violent television shows and movies or plays a lot of violent video games;
  • Has few friends, and is often rejected by other children because of his or her behaviour;
  • Makes friends with other children known to be unruly or aggressive;
  • Consistently does not listen to adults;
  • Is not sensitive to the feelings of others;
  • Is cruel or violent toward pets or other animals;
  • Is easily frustrated.

Warning signs in the preteen or teenage adolescent:

  • Consistently does not listen to authority figures;
  • Pays no attention to the feelings or rights of others;
  • Mistreats people and seems to rely on physical violence or threats of violence to solve problems;
  • Often expresses the feeling that life has treated him or her unfairly;
  • Does poorly in school and often skips class;
  • Misses school frequently for no identifiable reason;
  • Gets suspended from or drops out of school;
  • Joins a gang, gets involved in fighting, stealing, or destroying property;
  • Drinks alcohol and/or uses inhalants or drugs.

If your child exhibits the signs above, discuss your concerns with a psychologist. He/she will be able to do a thorough evaluation and address any problematic behaviour.

Read more:

Toddler and teen behaviour

Write to CyberShrink for advice

(Liesel Powell, Health24, November 2010)

Source: article by Dr Kimberley Young, HealthyPlace




Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Choose wisely... »

Healthy diet may extend kidney patients' lives Healthy diet protects teens against later weight gain

Finding the right diet for you

With so many fad diets out there, it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction. Dietitian Mpho Tshukudu gives advice on how to find and follow the right diet.

Decor danger! »

Sick building syndrome FAQ: Sick building syndrome What is sick building syndrome?

Your wallpaper might be making you sick

Fungus growing on wallpaper might contribute to 'sick building syndrome', causing symptoms similar to flu and allergies.