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Sunday, February 11, 2024

How to Intervene When Your Teen is Displaying Violent Behaviors

The following article is part two of a four-week series focusing on raising awareness about dating violence. February is Dating Violence Awareness month, and we hope to educate our community on this very important issue. 1 in 3 young people will experience dating violence in their lifetime. Locally, the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center has been serving victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and child abuse since 1978. Last year, HCWC served 2,054 victims of abuse (face-to-face) primarily from Hays and Caldwell Counties.

Your child displaying or engaging in behavior perceived as aggressive or violent is always hard to navigate as caregivers because it hurts to see someone we love experience such overwhelming emotions. While it can be easy to tie your child’s behavior back to what you did wrong, oftentimes their behavior can stem from other things such as events occurring at school, a bad day or experience, world events, or changes in their life. Many children have difficulties with expressing their emotions in general which can cause emotions to stay hidden under the surface and never fully addressed, so even small events can cause a rupture of built-up emotions.

Aggression and violence are the most common ways for a child to gain power and control within their home environment. It is key to have consistency with not only how you react and handle the situation, but how you hold the child accountable when their behavior gets violent. Using consequences instead of punishments allows for the child to modify their behavior rather than a one-time retribution that causes more anger and frustration. Consequences stand to address the behavior, offer a logical task or loss of privilege, and a clear end result once the child has shown improvement in behavior. Consistency and communication is key in having everyone be on the same page so there are no surprises that can cause consequences to be viewed as punishments.

Depending on the age of the child, you may have to communicate with them a plan of action for when their behavior starts to escalate. What is important is that the plan consists of everyone feeling and being safe and everyone’s boundaries are respected. Consistency can be key in helping children cope with emotions along with calmness when things escalate so the child feels safe at all times. Pushing boundaries can continue to escalate emotions, so having an open discussion about how to best support them can avoid this and help your child feel empowered. If behavior continues to escalate, create a safety plan to keep everyone and yourself safe.

Aggression and violent behaviors often signal that there is something within your child’s life causing them distress. Getting them involved with different types of support such as therapy can help your child learn how to identify and express their emotions while learning healthy coping skills. Other community resources could be afterschool clubs, activities, or sports. Physical activity is a great way to cope with feelings of anger, aggression, and frustration. However, the biggest support comes from you as the guardian. By modeling safe and appropriate ways to communicate and express emotions, your child can pick up those practices themselves and know they are in a safe space.

We are committed to providing free, safe, and confidential services to victims of dating violence. If you are experiencing dating violence, please call our HELPLine 24/7 at 512-3964357. HCWC’s Counseling & Resource Center has a counselor specifically focused on Dating Violence and our Prevention Educators are available to give presentations and education about dating violence.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666