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Anger among children – understanding the causes

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Children are supposed to be happy and playful, curious and eager to explore and experience the world their own way. They are also supposed to be miles away from misery and violence perpetrated by unscrupulous elements as well as crushing feeling of cut throat competition of the modern and professional world. All of this is a wishful thinking that is far detached from the reality of today. What is most worrisome is that in the present times, our children are growing up nursing feelings of hate and anger, loneliness and seclusion, ready to spew venom at almost anyone anytime. Sample this, a school student vents out hate towards his school teacher by threatening to rape her and her daughter. Not only this, newspapers report at alarming frequency, school children committing third degree crimes like murder over issues that sound trivial but nevertheless accentuate their deranged psyche. Another concomitant and equally disturbing phenomenon is that school students are committing suicides at smallest of reasons and slightest of provocations. The moot question is, what could possibly be the reason why our children are filled with so much anger and resentment? The answer to the question is complex, but according to me the answer lies in a number of factors such as breakdown of tradition of joint family system, absence of regular outdoor play or sports, embracing of modern technology and gadgets excessively, lesser academic engagement, diminishing value system and materialism. Let us try to explore each of these factors in detail.

angry child

Image Credit: You are Mom

A couple of decades back such behavior on part of children was unheard of, on the contrary, children of yesteryears bore all the beatings and corporal punishments of sorts at the hands of their teachers and that too silently, never complaining even once. I too have encountered ‘bricks in the wall’ in my time, years back. Perhaps this was an acceptable norm back then, not an isolated or an odd event. Some of you might even vouch for this to be true as you might have gone through the ignominy of the then extant practice. It seemed that most teachers believed in the famous saying ‘spare the rod spoil the child’. I am not at all alluding that all teachers subscribed to this school of thought. There were those, though too few, who believed in higher thoughts about reforming children by their kind words and setting examples. Nowadays, corporal punishment has been prohibited and the children have got great relief from such inhuman treatment. This is a positive and a progressive development that restores dignity of children and relieves them from the animalistic instincts of their care givers.

burden on the children

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It is argued that over the years the level of study as well as its load or burden on the children has increased. Unfortunately, I do not know how that was arrived at or what led to this conclusion. But going through the textbooks and chapters of what children study today in various subjects, I found that much of it is still the same as we read in our times decades back. This also means that outdated syllabus still populates the textbooks which is what our children read presently. Therefore, I am led to conclude that the burden of study has remained stagnant. This leads us to say that equal efforts would be required to clear the test today as were required years back. On the contrary, with a few years of CCE (continuous and comprehensive evaluation) and ‘No detention’ policy being in force whatever little burden was there, was made even less so. The vigor of the studies was taken away. We were given to understand that these ingenuities were supposed to take away all the stress of studies but what it gave us was crop of mediocre performers rather than brilliant students.

[ Also Read: Technology intervention – good and bad ]

Children are full of vigor and energy. They are capable of creating continuous ruckus by way of their play and unruly behavior and conduct. Children tend to become aggressive and rowdy if proper vent or an escape route to their energy is not provided to them. May be this is the reason why our children are exhibiting unruly behavior. Children need a vent to their expression, exuberance and enthusiasm that is so characteristic of their age. Therefore, it devolves upon us, the parents, that we should be able to purposefully channelize their energy into positive action rather than destructive or negative activities. If we fail to provide meaningful expression to our children then the energy gets diverted into negative avenues much to our displeasure and pain. Look what happens when a small child is not allowed to do what it wishes. Does it not become cranky and rowdy? As a child, it should get stress-free environment to play and learn, opportunities to develop interests such as learning a foreign language, a musical instrument, a sport or a hobby. All this absorbs child’s energy and gets channelized into useful and productive avenues.  I do recognize and appreciate the fact that most parents are conscious of this aspect and do much to expose their children to multiple hobbies, with an aim to nurture at least one as a viable profession. Sports and games help improve not only physical health but also social skills like team work, camaraderie, coordination and group behavior that makes them extroverted. You will definitely agree that pursuing sports has a positive effect on the mind and body of our children. The corollary is also true. Not giving enough time, opportunity and encouragement to children to take up sports and hobbies also invites troubles. Not indulging in play and sports prevents children from experiencing the positive takeaways that only a sport can provide. Could this be the reason why our children are exhibiting this kind of behavior?

kids playing with mobile

Image Credit: Rise Up Labs

Modern technology has pervaded our lives in a way like it never had in the past. It is an unfortunate development that today our children prefer working with electronic gadgets while sitting comfortably inside their homes. New gadgets, apps and games have mesmerized our children and kept them enthralled. Spending too much time with the gadgets has robbed our children of the opportunity to cultivate other hobbies, indulging in play and taking up sports at the professional level. In the event of lack of play and sports, they do not get physical exercise that is so necessary leading to ill health, weight gain, obesity, and reduced endurance. Most parents do not object to this changing trend as they are reluctant to send their children to play in an environment of high outdoor pollution. Another negative aspect of the creeping technology is that our children have become loners as working on gadgets is largely an individual activity rather than a group activity. Since they do not take part in any other group activities, their social skills remain underdeveloped which leads to behavioral problems. Some credible studies researching the effect of technology on children say that spending 4 hours or more a day on the gadgets increasingly makes them lonelier and alienated. Prolonged solitude results in feelings of low self-esteem and low self-worth which are the prime causes of anger, hate and resentment. This is the reason why children of today remain irritable and irascible all the time.

nuclear family

Image Credit: Scary Mommy

The joint family system is long dead and in a nuclear family both the parents are employed. In this milieu the children do not get enough personal care and attention of their parents and consequently they often grow up with feelings of distrust and live through the uncaring attitude of their parents. Due to paucity of time most parents have outsourced the onus of upbringing their children to others including grandparents and servants. Further, in this situation parents cannot keep a watchful eye upon their child, consequently he or she is prone to picking up bad habits and company. Not only this, parents do not share enough intimate personal time with their children that is so important for children’s psychological development which creates impervious barriers in their relationship that might one day be so high that pulling them down might prove to be an impossible task.  

Let me ask you a question, ‘How has our value system and morals changed over time’. To some extent our children absorb as well as reflect of our own thoughts and practices. Do you voice your anger and hate at any of your family members or household staff or at situations in front of your children? For example, do you talk loosely before your children, paying no heed to values and ethics, cursing other relatives, friends and family? This is what children learn and replicate in their actions paying no heed to values, relationships and ethics.

[ Also Read: Health of children – the real wealth of a nation ]  

Last but not the least, do you talk about monetary aspects displaying greed for money? Do your decisions and actions somehow exhibit preference for money over values and relations? Do you show before your children that money is overwhelming and easy? Have money and comforts have become central to our day to day life rather than respect, morals and high thinking? Little wonder that the same thing is being absorbed and perpetrated by our children as well; by way of their behavior and actions.

I suggest, we need to discuss what more could be done to solve the problem that is our own creation. To reverse the trend, I guess, our children should be given all the care, counselling and a heeling touch to make them feel better.

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2 Comments

  1. Kavita Satdev September 23, 2018

    Effective tips and strategies to control the anger and frustration in children..great read.

    Reply
  2. Anurag Jain September 23, 2018

    Very well covered all eangles. Variety of food and its quality is another angle that has an impact on our personality and behaviour.
    With changing times shouldn’t the yardstick of right behaviour change.
    Children have to be ready for future not for yesterday. Then yesterday’s value system might not work… Just a perspective!

    Reply

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