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All children have times when they are angry and defiant. Many children begin to express these emotions during their second year. It is a normal part of a child's urge to take charge of their life. However, your child may act out in ways that puzzle or frighten you. It can be very painful to see your child bullying other children or becoming violent.
You can help your child learn to understand and manage angry feelings. Show your child the behavior you want to see. Set firm, clear limits around what behavior is okay. If you are consistent in your own behavior, it will help your child understand how to behave with other people. If you need help with your child's behavior, talk to your doctor or a counselor.
There can be many signs that children or teens may be thinking about being violent. For example, they may get into fights. They may bully others, hurt animals, or damage someone's property. Other signs include talking or posting on social media about violence and withdrawing from friends, family, and activities.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Contact your doctor if:
Parents can help protect their child or teen from being violent. When kids feel loved and safe, they are more likely to deal with situations without using violence. Here are some things you can try.
Locking a gun in a place away from the ammunition may help. But there is still a risk.
Children who watch a lot of this violence may start to believe that such actions are okay. This can make them more likely to be violent themselves.
Help your child find ways to resolve conflict without using violence. All other adults in the home and other family members can be good role models too.
Dating abuse is common among teens. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, or physical. It can happen in person, over the computer, and over the phone. Explain that this is not acceptable. Tell your teen that a caring partner would not do something to someone that causes fear, lowers self-esteem, or causes injury. Talk with your teen about how to leave a relationship that isn't healthy.
Teens who use alcohol or drugs are more likely to be in violent situations.
Talk with a health professional or licensed counselor if you think that your child may need help dealing with conflict. For example, if you've been told your child has been bullying others, take this seriously and seek help.
Certain things make violent behavior in children or teens more likely. These are called risk factors. They can include any or a combination of these things:
Harvard Pilgrim has a large and growing network of behavioral health providers that offers expertise across dozens of behavioral health care specialties. Search our online directory to find a provider near you.
Northeast Health Services is a network of outpatient mental health clinics that focuses on delivering timely access to high-quality psychiatry and therapy services for adults, children and adolescents in Massachusetts. The network offers a hybrid of in-person and telehealth services to best serve your needs.
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