We all know that children can be cruel, but why do they sometimes become really horrible and how can we stop them?
Children aren't born evil but some tend towards uncontrolled, difficult behaviour which can be genetically inherited or triggered by their environment, says Professor John Pearce, childcare author. Tell-tale signs are kids who have strong emotional reactions and are unsettled by change. Their progress depends on what their parents and schools do.
What can you do?
Professor Pearce says:
- Never let them get away with aggressive behaviour, such as kicking another child. Explain this isn't acceptable and discipline them, by taking away privileges or treats.
- Promote caring, gentle behaviour through setting a good example. Explain how you should treat others.
- Avoid aggressive role models. Monitor TV programmes and computer games, and think about playmates at school and at home. Is someone setting a bad example.
- Don't dismiss mild bad behaviour. A toddler needs to know it's wrong to pinch the baby or she could go on to do worse things.
Serious nastiness might include:
- Tormenting animals.
- Physically hurting other children, despite being told not to, and, just as important, failing to show any remorse.
- Taking pleasure from the above.
- Unpredictable behaviour such as violent outbursts.