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"Atta Majhi Satakli"​- Aggression in teens and what can you about it ?

Being a child of a school teacher and that too a discipline in charge has its perks, for starters, stories and gossip sessions get very juicy at times, and our cue is me asking her how her day was when she comes back home. A few days back she came home a little later than usual and upon asking she answered “Arey these two kids got into a fight in front of the school gate so I had to intervene” what might be the reason for them to be fighting, you must be wondering. She went on to reveal it was as little as bumping into each other at a staircase while switching between classes. The younger student refused to apologize and went on to grab the elder student by the collar fast forwarding to the end of the day which was marked by a huge crowd gathered at the front of the main gate. The situation of fist fights stemming from just two people bumping at the staircase is questionable on so many levels.

(source- baby centre)

Aggression and anger are many times interchanged, surprisingly they are not the same. Aggression is a range of behaviors that can result in harm to oneself, others, or objects in the environment. It is centered on hurting another person - who had no intention to be hurt - either physically or mentally. Anger on the other hand is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong. To make it simpler - Anger is an emotion while aggression is the behavioral part of it.

Circling back to the catching-up-with-mother, I remember asking her why are kids at your school so aggressive? And per usual her response entailed “It's the parents, they simply don't keep a check”. She isn't all wrong, but there is more to it..

Much like any other behavior there is not one sole cause of aggression. Broadly the causes can be boxed in one of the following:

  • Biological causes: This may include genetic factors, imbalances of cortisol and testosterone and imbalances of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These imbalances can be blamed on genetic factors which may also play a role in differing brain structures;another biological cause of aggression.

  • Environmental causes: This generally boils down aggressive behaviors modeled by elements in the immediate environment (such as family, media etc) and are rewarded. One can trace down its mechanism in the concept of observational learning proposed by Albert Bandura.

  • Psychological causes: Chronic stress and many mental health conditions can be the root cause of aggressive behavior.


Now let’s take a brief look at what are contents of these boxes -

  • Being the victim of physical abuse and/or sexual abuse

  • Exposure to violence in the home and/or community

  • Being the victim of bullying

  • Genetic (family heredity) factors

  • Exposure to violence in media (TV, movies, etc.)

  • Presence of firearms in home

  • Combination of stressful family socioeconomic factors (poverty, severe deprivation, marital breakup, single parenting, unemployment, loss of support from extended family)

  • Brain damage from head injury


That day I asked my mother, “How do you think these issues can be curbed? I mean suspending them is not a long-term solution, right?” she replied “Like I said, it all starts at home” and she wasn’t wrong. Here are a few tips you can try as a parent

  • Setting boundaries of what is expected and tolerable and what isn't.

  • Teaching your kid the difference between anger and aggression.

  • Teach them to be mindful about the physical signs of anger.

  • Encourage self directed time-outs.

  • Help your teenager with imparting acceptable coping skills.

  • Be a better role model.

We all are human beings and emotions are a central part of us. Anger, joy, love, sadness, guilt etc are valid emotions. It's okay to be angry but it's not okay to be aggressive.

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