1. Parenting
  2. Managing Child Behaviour
  3. Early Warning Signs of Violent Behavior in Children.

Early Warning Signs of Violent Behavior in Children.

Arun Sharma Arun Sharma 5 Mins Read

Arun Sharma Arun Sharma


Ignoring signs of violent behavior or condoning violence during childhood can result in a child adopting violent behavior. Read on to understand early signs of such behavior to nip it in the bud.

Toddler to Teen
  • 28.4K
  • 0
  • 2
Early Warning Signs of Violent Behavior in Children.

Most children love rough play like tackling, tumbling, and pushing. But, with some children, these and other such childish antics seem to border on the edge of extreme aggression or violence. Left unchecked during childhood, some of these children can turn into anti-socials in the future.

Causes of violent behavior:

Our mental conditioning makes it difficult for us to believe that children can also indulge in violence. However, according to the paper, 'The Development of Physical Aggression,' by Richard E Tremblay, published on child-encyclopedia.com (2012), "Studies have now shown that most children start to use physical aggression between the end of the first and second year after birth."

So, what is it that causes a child to begin displaying violent behaviors?

An article titled, 'Understanding Violent Behavior in Children and Adolescents', published on AAP.org (2011) lists several factors that can cause children to become aggressive. According to the article, some of the factors are: being a victim of violence; sexual abuse; watching violence on media; stressors like poverty and hunger; and damage to the brain. A child's temperament and relationship with parents play an important role as well.

Early signs of violent behavior in children:

With the increasing realization that children can indulge in acts of violence, parents are generally advised to keep an eye out for such behavior in their children. However, not many parents are able to differentiate genuine acts of violence from false positives.

Here are some behavioral signals that you should watch out for in your child to understand if she may be exhibiting early signs of violent behavior.

  • Severely aggressive outbursts, even for minor issues
  • Out-of-control temper tantrums
  • Detached attitude; does not mingle with peers, stays away from parents and siblings
  • Shows interest in violent content (movies or games) on TV or other media
  • Displays cruelty towards other life forms (hurts animals and insects)
  • Is insensitive to the feelings of others
  • Indulges in impulsive and aggressive behaviors (issuing threats, destroying property, and so on)
  • Engages in disruptive behavior (while playing with peers, in the classroom, social events)
  • Has problems with discipline
  • Is in the company of kids of violent nature
  • Fares poorly in academics
  • Displays feelings of rejection (due to being rejected by peers and others)
  • Exhibits self-injurious behavior
  • Threatens to use violence

What should parents do when the child indulges in violent behavior:

The exhibition of violent behavior by children is not just limited to home but happens outside as well like in the school or the playground. During times when the child exhibits violent behavior:

  • Stay calm and do not attempt to punish the child
  • Use an authoritative tone as well as gestures to try and stop the child
  • Listen to what the child has to say and try to understand him
  • Try to distract the child and redirect him towards something else
  • Ask the child to move away from the scene and take a break

Also, during violent outbursts, it is important to observe if the child is holding on to something that he may use to cause hurt. If so, while intervening, take safeguards against getting hurt.

How can parents prevent children from acting in a violent manner:

Appropriate measures taken at the earliest to curb violent behavior can prevent it from becoming a part of the child's habit. According to Richard E Tremblay, "Early childhood is probably the best window of opportunity for helping children at risk of becoming chronic physical aggressors because most children learn alternatives to physical aggression during that period."

Some of the things that parents can do are:

  • Teach self-calming techniques
  • Teach self-control, to reduce impulsivity
  • Help the child develop empathy
  • Give the child enough time and attention
  • Help the child develop self-esteem

Mrs Rose Sunderraj, Counsellor, Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, says, "The day a child is born, its parents are also born again, as parents. They are now part of a new creation that belongs to the future. The new being has a soul of its own to be recognized and nurtured with love and protection. In our Indian tradition, the family is considered sacred. It lays emphasis on raising children who possess maturity and integrity. But, today, with progressive knowledge and technology, this has changed. So, as parents, we need to introspect and consider -
Are we growing with our children or letting them 'grow themselves'? Does our ego interfere with our responsibilities to our children? How do we inculcate responsibility and values in them?
We need to help them know the importance of 'WE' over the 'I'. When we walk together, eat together, share together and pray together, we grow our relationship. Yet, we will argue, disagree, etc. All are part of our learning to understand and bond. Children must be made aware that their parents need not be perfect. They should also learn about forgiveness and receive forgiveness. The act of pardoning and being pardoned is a sign of compassionate love and this goes a long way in stemming the violent feelings that grow from lack of self-esteem or from being compared to others (including one's own siblings).
Maybe, if they are accepted for who they are, children will grow with confidence. And, no child is born without some kind of talent or creativity. Discerning and encouraging without too many expectations will go a long way in cementing a healthy and bonding relationship between parents and children."

Connect with us on


Bhavani Aug 23 2018

What if parents are unable to control aggression in their children despite following the above tips? Can't school counsellors and doctors help to control such behaviour and not just provide counselling?

Hansi Karakoti 107 days ago

@Bhavani How's your child right now?

ParentCircle is a magazine that empowers parents to raise successful and happy children. SUBSCRIBE NOW