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Aggressive behavior of teenagers

Teenagers are one of the groups most affected by the problem of aggression.

Why is this happening?

There are many hypotheses about where the aggressive behavior of teenagers comes from.

Discussions and research on the nature of adolescent aggression have been particularly active in recent years, and there remains a large layer of unresolved issues.

Does media, games, and pop culture influence aggression?

It is obvious that through violence and open anger, teenagers Express, or seek ways to Express, personal experiences. By this behavior, they unconsciously make it clear about their internal conflicts.

Children who do not feel accepted, cared for, or loved by society and family often fall under the category of aggressive minors.

Or teenagers with a difficult childhood and an unfavorable upbringing environment. Most adults do not even try to think about the feelings of an aggressive child, primitively driving it into the template of a “difficult teenager”, “bully”. Such a child is only worthy of punishment, not help. This is not the way to deal with “bad” behavior. This provokes new outbursts of hostility. Including of autoaggression.

Autoaggression is an activity aimed, consciously or unconsciously, at self-harm in the physical and mental spheres.

From the point of view of psychoanalysis, it refers to the mechanisms of psychological protection. Autoaggression manifests itself in self-destructive behavior. Self-incrimination, self-abasement, self-inflicted injuries of varying severity, up to suicide.

“Aggressive behavior” and ” aggressiveness»

Many people confuse these two concepts. The difference is in the consistency and nature of the actions we call violent. Aggressiveness is a personality quality that may have been acquired. The personality of minors is just being formed and this quality can easily be integrated into it. Behavior – these are situational actions that can often be surprised.

An aggressive person can be called, for example, a boy who mocks cats in the yard and  on the street. A person with aggressive behavior can be a teenager who got into a fight with a classmate, for whatever reason.

The causes of aggression – a view from the side of science
There are several theories of aggression: the theory of instinct by Sigmund Freud and Konrad Lorenz, the social-cognitive theory of albert Bandura, and the frustration theory of John Dollard. I suggest considering possible causes of adolescent aggression based on these theories.

The theory of instinct
This theory treats aggression as an innate and organic reaction based on frustration.

Frustration is a state that occurs when it is impossible to satisfy any need, when a person can not get what he wants.

In adolescents, all instinctive reactions become brighter, and it is difficult to control them due to stress and hormonal surge. And this is expressed by destructive behavior, outbursts.

Freud says that aggression arises from the” dispute ” of the drive to live, to create, and the drive to destroy, which is inherent in man from birth. Aggressive behavior manifested by the defense. It allows you not to destroy yourself, destroying the world around you instead. In the transition period of life, the topic of contradictions and internal disputes is extremely acute and relevant.

The teenager subconsciously learns to use protective mechanisms, although not always successfully and safely.

Frustration theory
We gave the definition of frustration above. Frustration theory speaks of aggression as the product of experiences associated with insurmountable difficulties.

In the case of teenagers, the greatest obstacle to the realization of ideas and desires is often the oppression, or simply the suppression of all aspirations on the part of parents, teachers and peers. In a large number of cases, phrases like these become a psychological obstacle.

“You’re still young»
“Don’t get in there, you’re not enough…. Adult, competent, smart…»
“We know better what you need, sit tight»
In such cases, the anger on the part of the boy or girl is directed at the pressure side and indirectly at themselves.

Parents, when using such phrases in communication with teenagers, know what they can lead to!

Frustration that causes autoagression can also be triggered by self-doubt, which is typical for many teenagers. Doubt can turn into self-deprecation and a feeling of complete inability to do anything. This is especially true for people who are prone to depressive States. You can learn more about adolescent depression in our article. Under these circumstances, internal aggression is stronger than external aggression.

Frustration is not only due to failures in self-realization. The reason for aggressive behavior can be a banal dissatisfaction with needs. In addition to the need for love and approval from the family, teenagers have new needs. This is acceptance by an important community, respect, the ability to speak out, and others. These new needs are often overlooked and ignored, leading to frustration. A long period of frustration causes either stress, which also leads to aggression due to exhaustion, or anger at those people who should have taken into account the needs of the young person.

In dealing with teenagers and their upbringing, a lot of attention is needed. But it is important not to violate personal space. After all the need for his respect is also very important

Theory of social learning
According to this theory, people “learn” aggressive behavior by observing a constant environment.

If a child sees their parents yelling at each other and at others throughout their adult life, they are more likely to grow up to be violent teenagers.

Hostility becomes a conditioned reflex. It seems that it is impossible to fight this behavior. But this is not the case. It can be slowed down by simply not giving reinforcements. First, the teenager should see an example of non-aggressive behavior in the environment. Second, it should not receive retaliatory aggression in response to its attacks.

Copying the behavior of older people is typical for teenagers. They need a role model.

Forms of aggressive behavior of teenagers

Speaking of aggressive behavior in form it can be divided into:

Physical aggression. This is causing material damage to the object, physical violence, which is clear from the name. It is often used by teenagers in cases of fights, cruelty to animals.
Verbal aggression. It can be expressed in insults, passive aggression, boycotts, and disputes that escalate into a skirmish. Verbal aggression is aimed at causing moral damage. This is mainly complained about by parents, who establish the brand of “difficult teenager”.
For the purpose of aggression there are:

Defense aggression. For the most part, it is a defense mechanism provoked by violence on the part of others — family and peers. “Petya insulted my girlfriend — I will meet him after school and fight with him.”
Aggression is a provocation. This is what the same Peter, to satisfy curiosity, to make fun of or to get a reaction.
Instrumental aggression is a case in which aggression is not an end in itself, but a way to achieve a goal. I’ll hit a man and get what I need.

Today’s adolescent children are indeed more aggressive. Moreover, girls have difficulties with the regulation of stiffness appear earlier, at 13-14 years. In boys, this process begins a little later, usually at 14-16 years.

For the most part, the behavior of teenagers is influenced by changes that occur in them. Teenagers are actively developing their personality and self-awareness, changing the perception of themselves and the attitude of society towards them. They are experiencing a hormonal surge. This contributes to aggressive behavior.

The behavior of teenagers is influenced by all spheres of life that surround them: the family, children’s society, and the media.

But every teenager in the same conditions behaves differently. This depends on his personal characteristics.

But do not forget that aggression is not only ” bad ” behavior. This is a necessity, a protective reaction of the body, one of the ways to achieve what you want.

Features of aggressive behavior in adolescents

Physical aggression, as the simplest way to Express hostility, gradually gives way to verbal aggression, which does not cause such strong visible harm;
Despite this, throughout adolescence, girls are more likely to be verbally aggressive. And boys “prefer” physical.
Tips for parents or “what to do»
The first thing parents need to know is the theory of aggression. This is why we wrote this article. And now-practice.

What you can’t do with aggressive teenagers

Engage in constant uncontrolled conflicts in the family;
Put an end to the child, seeing undesirable manifestations of personality;
To denounce and condemn;
Apply hyperoperation.
Such actions lead to a negative attitude towards the family, sometimes auto-aggression “I am told that I am a hopeless disappointment and a stupid child. Could it be true? Do I deserve to be treated like this?»

Such thoughts can greatly undermine a child’s self-esteem. Given the fact that it is not always possible for a teenager to control his aggression.

In family conflicts, the social learning we have discussed comes into play. Parents behave like this-so it’s right

Ignoring causes the child to cope with everything on their own, which increases the level of stress and frustration, difficulties with determining the categories “good” and”bad”.

What you can and should do:

Pay attention to the teenager, if possible, talk to him about what he cares about and what can cause aggression;
If there was an outburst of aggression, discuss this case, talk about the feelings that the child experienced;
To control the violence in ourselves;
Do not allow, but calmly and confidently, the manifestation of aggression in your direction;
Don’t panic. What parents don’t like and think is improbable is often the norm of adolescent behavior.

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