Handling Aggression – Step One


The first step to being able to handle aggression is knowing the function of it in the first place. All behaviour is communication and all behaviour is driven by the motivation to pursue pleasure or avoid pain.

Here are some questions that will get you thinking about why the behaviour even exists:

How is this behaviour serving your child?

Does it get them what they want?

Does it get them out of what they want?

Does it help them to control you or people around them?

Does it serve to express a frustration due to trouble communicating?

Is it a build up of sensory stimulation or an attempt to seek stimulation?

Is your child reacting this way because they are feeling emotionally overwhelmed and doesn't know what else to do?

Does it make them feel powerful because they are feeling powerless in another area of their life?

Is this a form of panic for your child because they don't know how to manage feeling so out of control in one or many areas of their life, or feeling out of control with anxiety?

Is your child lacking in knowledge on how to handle the situation at hand any differently (aka they don't know any other way)?

Is your child modelling your behaviour or that of someone else's?

What was happening just before the behaviour occurred?

What happened afterwards, or what normally happens afterwards?

What sort of things are they repetitively saying, before, during or after the aggression?

Who was involved before, during or after the aggression?

Is there always a common factor involved in their aggression?

What seems to calm your child down?

What is it your child wants in that moment?

Are they misunderstanding something or misinterpreting something?

What is your child not able to understand or what are they needing to learn in regards to this situation?

Your child's aggression can be a response to something, or a result of how they are thinking, a misunderstanding, an environmental trigger where they are literally in pain and angry that they've been physically hurt.

It could be confusion, rejection, criticism, overwhelm, frustration at their lack of ability, they could be struggling with their self-esteem, comparing themselves to other people, or feeling rejected, isolated or it could just be that they don't want to comply with any more rules or don't even get what the rules are or why they have to exist.

Or it could be all of the above.

How do you deal with aggression? Well that depends on what the problem is in the first place.

If your child was aggressive because they are literally in pain from too much noise, or were struggling with extreme anxiety would you punish them by taking their ipad away?

Or would you want to help your child with their pain?

Finding the most effective behavioural approaches will always be reliant upon having accurate information about how your child is or was perceiving the situation to trigger the aggression.

Understanding 'why' the aggression is there, is always the first step.

Did you know we run a program that helps both parents and their autistic child reduce stress and improve their mental health? Suitable for parents of autistic children aged three years right into adulthood. Find out more on the link below.

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