Teaching Children Not to Fight
All children fight. Isn’t that what we hear generation after generation? To my mind, there is only one reason children fight, and it is not because they are biologically wired to do so.
Certainly, humans all have some aggressive instincts, but we do not all act on those. The days of the caveman and his club are long gone. (Now, he has to date the woman, and when he goes into his cave, he usually goes alone!)
Becoming civilized is in large part about taming those aggressive, instinctive biological responses. We can think of them as primitive, more likely to emerge under the influence of alcohol, or even where there has been a head injury. The majority of adults, we would like to think, have learned to control their more primitive, knee-jerk responses.
Children, however, need to be taught, from a very early age, and continuously thereafter, appropriate, civilized responses. If they are not taught, they will not naturally, magically emerge into considerate, sensitive, accommodating, problem-solving adults.
It is not enough to tell them not to fight, hit, bite, scratch or call names. Those behaviors are usually the end result of frustration, so we must teach them how to deal with frustration. We need to teach patience, cooperation, sharing, problem-solving, and self-control. Of course, the best way to teach these behaviors is to model them ourselves.
We need to create a home environment that models evolved behavior, and that has zero tolerance for fighting, particularly when it is physical. A child’s misbehavior must be followed by teaching, and at times, consequences. Consequences that are overly punishing, or that are delivered with physical or verbal aggression will send the opposite message of what we are trying to teach.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca or follow Gwen on Facebook.
Originally published at https://gwen.ca on October 15, 2022.