There are times when even the calmest child displays aggressive tendencies; a certain amount of aggression in children is normal – especially at very young ages. However, there are some children who display such extreme aggression that it becomes their way of coping with almost any situation. These children aren’t bullies; they often engage in fights with people who are stronger than they are and face problems not because of the aggression, but because the extreme aggression is unwarranted to the situation. Children as young as preschool-age can exhibit violent behaviors, which should not be quickly dismissed as a phase of development. If your child has been behaving in an overly aggressive manner, causing discord within the family or at school, it’s time to call the child-focused staff at Ascent Children’s Health Services to begin treatment and teach your child that violence is not the only way to solve problems.
Why Seek Treatment For Extreme Aggression in Children?
As a parent of a child who displays extreme aggression and violence, you may wonder if this is somehow your fault as you struggle with feelings of fear and guilt. You may spend much of your time on the phone with the school and other children’s parents trying to set right any explosive behaviors your child exhibited. Some of the causes for extreme aggression in children may include:
- Previous victim of physical and/or sexual abuse
- Domestic or community violence
- Genetic factors
- Exposure to violence in the media
- Drug or alcohol usage
- Firearms in the home
- Severe deprivation
- Single parenting
- Loss of support of loved ones
- Brain damage from head injury
Violent, extreme aggression in children and adolescents may include a wide array of behaviors. Your child may exhibit such behaviors as:
- Explosive, extreme temper tantrums
- Physical aggression
- Threats and attempts to hurt others
- Homicidal thoughts
- Usage of weapons
- Cruelty toward animals
- Intentional vandalism and property damage
You may be at a loss for what to do to help your child so that everyone is safe, secure, and comforted. You may feel frightened of your child at times, especially as he or she gets older and more physically able to cause harm. You may fear for the safety of pets and younger children. Your child’s school may have disciplined your child, at a loss for how to stop this violent behavior. An outpatient program that involves a multidisciplinary team of individuals who have helped other children and families overcome extreme aggression can do wonders to help your child as he or she learns new ways of handling frustration. You can grow, learn, and heal together as your team of amazing professionals works tirelessly to help you and your child lead the life you’ve always wanted.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Ascent Children’s Health Services, we base our philosophy upon the idea that each family is a unique unit and each child from that family is a special individual with his or her own needs, talents, and challenges. We work hard to enhance your child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development while promoting independence and instilling a sense of hope about recovery. This ensures that we are able to treat each child as an individual, a whole person, and provide the most appropriate and effective level of care needed.
Treatment Options for Extreme Aggression in Children at Ascent Children’s Health Services
When you first come to us with a referral from your child’s doctor for services, our multidisciplinary team of specialists will perform a variety of examinations and evaluations upon your child. This allows us to determine your eligibility for services as well as lay the foundation for a treatment plan geared specifically towards the needs of your child. Once the results of the examinations are completed, we’ll work with you and your child to create an appropriate treatment plan and begin our work together. Treatments we may use to help extremely aggressive children may include:
Individual Therapy: Through individual therapy, we’ll be able to spend a great deal of time getting to know your child, the situations that provoke aggressive behaviors, and discuss any co-occurring medical or mental health disorders he or she may be facing. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a wonderful tool for helping our staff teach your child the ways in which their angry thoughts lead to impulsive and violent behaviors. We’ll then serve to correct these ways of thinking with more positive views of real-life situations so that your child is better equipped to make better life choices.
Group Therapy: Group therapy can be an amazing way for extremely aggressive children to work with peers struggling with similar problems so that they can support one another through this process. Our groups may include anger management, making better decisions, coping skills, identifying and managing emotions, fostering appropriate social interaction with peers, actions and consequences, impulse reduction, and relaxation techniques.
Behavioral Modification: Through a rewards system, we’ll work with your child to lay out appropriate rewards and consequences for the actions they take. When your child behaves positively, he or she will receive an award for great behavior. If your child behaves in a negative manner, he or she will receive a consequence for poor decision making. We’ll also put together a behavioral contract that outlines specific positive behaviors and their rewards and specific negative behaviors and their consequences.
Medications: While there are no specific medications that can treat children with extreme aggression without distinct diagnosis (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), some medications have shown to reduce some of the violent behavior in certain children. The usage of medication will be in conjunction with other therapies and interventions and will be based upon the findings of the treatment team and your preferences.
Family Therapy: Family therapy for extremely aggressive children will meet no less than once per month and will serve as a way to ensure we are all on the same page in regards to your child’s extreme aggression and treatment plans. We’ll make sure you have an appropriate behavioral modification system at your home as well, so that our approach to treatment is consistent for your child. We may spend some time watching you interact with your child and helping you to find more appropriate ways to react and communicate with your child to increase the chances of good behaviors.
As we are a holistic treatment center, Ascent Children’s Health Services is proud to offer a number of experiential therapeutic interventions to complement our traditional therapies. These may include:
- Nutrition and meal planning
- Handwriting Without Tears
- Sensory rooms
- Therapy gym
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
At Ascent Children’s Health Services, we’re proud to offer a wide range of therapeutic solutions to meet all of your needs. If your child is struggling with developmental delays and medical problems, he or she may find that our Child Health Management Services (CHMS) is an appropriate option. CHMS is offered at the day program and outpatient services level. If your child is struggling with mental disorders, he or she may best fit into our Rehabilitative Services for Persons with Mental Illness (RSPMI) program, which also offers day programs and outpatient services.
Each year, we will reevaluate your child to determine whether or not he or she still qualifies for services and ensure that your child is in the right program for his or her needs. If it is determined that your child no longer qualifies for services, we’ll put together a formal discharge plan that meets your child’s continuing care needs. Some children transfer from day program to outpatient, while some may transfer from outpatient to day treatment programs. Others may transfer from outpatient to school-based therapies. You’ll sit down with your treatment team and create a plan that works to meet all of your child’s continuing care needs.