Health and Medical

How to Care for a Child Who Is Aggressive

Do you care for a child with aggressive behavior? In the U.S., six to sixteen percent of boys are diagnosed with a conduct disorder. Girls account for two to nine percent of children with this diagnosis.

When a child displays this behavior before age ten, they’re at higher risk for ongoing problems. This may include difficulty with academics and peer relationships. So, what are the best approaches to safely care for these children?

Keep reading to learn about research-supported approaches.

Diagnosing Aggressive Children

The DSM-5 diagnosis of Conduct Disorder includes at least four of these behaviors.

  • Aggressive behavior directed at others and animals
  • Deliberate physical cruelty to animals
  • Deliberate physical cruelty to other people
  • Destroying property by arson
  • Destroying property in other ways
  • Forcing a sex act on someone else
  • Ignoring parent curfews before age 13
  • Participating in confrontational economic order crimes (EOC) such as mugging
  • Participating in non-confrontational EOC such as breaking and entering
  • Participating in non-confrontational retail crimes such as shoplifting
  • Repeated physical altercations with others
  • Running away from home twice or more
  • Truancy before age 13
  • Using a weapon to hurt others

These children exhibit limited positive social emotions. For example, they lack remorse or guilt for their actions.

Frequent Causes of Aggressive Behavior in Children

Children may struggle with aggression, anger, or irritability for many reasons. They’re often triggered by frustration when they can’t have what they want. The child may get upset if asked to stop what they’re doing to perform other tasks.

This issue may accompany other disorders. For example, autism, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Some experts believe genetics and biological factors may play a role. Environmental settings, trauma, dysfunctional families, and parenting style may also contribute.

How to Care for a Child With Aggressive Behavior

One tool used by healthcare providers is the Broset Violence Checklist (BVC). This provides a measure of aggression and helps predict violence. Medical teams use the BVC score when developing medication and therapeutic plans.

Creating an individual treatment program offers the most benefit to reduce aggressive behavior. This may include the My Health Passport.

The family, patient, and medical staff complete this tool together. They identify verbal and nonverbal activity to promote a positive atmosphere.

Safe Activity Bags help avoid or de-escalate aggressive behavior. This can include items that distract or provide comfort to the child.

Consider bubble wrap, fidget spinners or bubble poppers, stress balls, or pinwheels. Put in a favorite plush toy, blanket, or pillow. If the child begins to exhibit signs of aggression, take them to a safe place with the bag.

Caregiver Protection

Aggressive children may hit, bite, throw things, or create other risks. It’s vital for caregivers to protect themselves.

If you get bit, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Human bites carry a higher risk of infection than those from a dog or cat. offers protective clothing and gear designed to keep professionals safe. Armguards/sleeves resist biting, pinching, and scratching.

You can buy special hoodies, jackets, and short- and long-sleeve shirts. These guard against cuts, slashes, and bites. They also sell bite- and cut-resistant shorts and long johns.

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