Behaviour Problems in Young Children: Assessment and Management

By Jo Douglas | Go to book overview

Chapter four

Setting limits

Aggressive and disruptive behaviour

Aggressive and destructive children usually cannot be contained purely by the ignoring and rewarding methods described in the previous chapter, so parents need to learn alternative management methods that will enable them to gain rapid and effective control. It is not possible nor is it appropriate to ignore behaviour that involves breaking toys, destroying furniture, or hurting others. Children need to understand and learn where the limit is for their behaviour. They need to be taught the consequences of their behaviour and that it is not acceptable. Violent actions are often the result of experimentation, anger and frustration, or lack of self-control. They are easily imitated and winning provides the child with a sense of satisfaction and power. This pattern of behaving can become habitual as the child either learns to vent angry feelings or uses aggression and violence to control others.

In some families with aggressive children the boundaries and limits on the child’s behaviour may not be clear and a struggle for power can take place between the parents and child which rapidly escalates into violence. Patterson and his colleagues (1975) have worked extensively with aggressive children and their families and have tried to explain how the interaction becomes progressively more violent. They call this the ‘coercive hypothesis’ when both the parent and the child learn that they can occasionally win a battle by shouting louder or hitting harder. There are two paths of escalation, one in which the parent gives in and one in which the child gives in (Wells and Forehand 1981).

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Behaviour Problems in Young Children: Assessment and Management
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Chapter One - Introduction: Causes of Behaviour Problems 1
  • Chapter Two - Assessment of the Problem 16
  • Chapter Three - Positive Parenting 36
  • Chapter Four - Setting Limits 48
  • Chapter Five - Eating and Feeding Difficulties 67
  • Chapter Six - Toilet Training 94
  • Chapter Seven - Bedtime and Sleep Problems 116
  • Chapter Eight - Emotional Problems 135
  • Chapter Nine - The Overactive and Hyperactive Child 155
  • Chapter Ten - Crying Babies 176
  • References 191
  • Index 215
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