sstiehm asks:

Aggressive Behavior

My 6yr old son is starting to exhibit aggressive or dominating behavior. We were recently at a theme park, and he would step in front of people to make them change their direction, race to beat other children to play on toys so they couldn't, and he will get up in people's faces. He is an only child that has been an "aggressive tester" as long as I can remember. I am usually on his back about behavior, appropriateness, etc. Now he has taken to "policing" other children. Going up to other kids, sometimes kids he doesn't know, telling them to stop doing what they are doing. In general he has quite a negative way with other kids. Surprisingly, many kids at school fight for his attention. He gets annoyed and will turn his back or try to get away from them. His teacher says he is just being a boy, but I am not sure if all of this will lead to serious behavior problems in the future. He has a 1/2 brother who has ODD (he lives with his mom, and we rarely see him). Any thoughts- or need more info?
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Boys Town National Hotline
Mar 1, 2014
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What the Expert Says:

It sounds like this is not the norm for his behavior as it has just recently started.  Ask yourself if there have been any big life changes such as a move, a death in the family, a friendship loss, or any big routine change.  Sometimes behaviors are triggered by an event such as the examples listed.  It is good that you discussed this with his teacher, so she can kep an eye on this at school too.  The kids could just be pacifying him or simplying following him because he is telling them what to do.  He has some leadership qualities, but you want him to be a positive leader and not a negative leader, because as kids get older they get wiser.  If someone is bossing them around, they will eventually avoid the person which can result in a loss of many friends.

As far as policing other children, beating them to a toy, and jumping in front of folks, all of these are ways he is exerting his "control" over something. That is something to watch.  Have conversations with him prior to going on an outing or to be with other kids regarding feelings.  Throw out a scenario like, "When someone is your friend, they like it when you share a toy or let them use it first," or "Now how do you think so-in-so will feel if you always run to his favorite part on the jungle gym first?"  Board games in which he needs to wait his turn are good practice too.  Being the only child at home, he does not get a lot of practice having to share or wait his turn right?

Although your son does not live with his brother, you may want to have him evaluatated just as a pre-caution as often times similar mental health issues can genetically run in families.  Continue to model good sharing habits, ask questions while watching a show together regarding feelings to help him to see other's points of views, and praise him when he does interact in kind way.  Hopefully he'll simply grow out of it.

Laura - Crisis Counselor
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