Individual Counselling: Secondary School (Parents Strategies)

Reactive aggressor

Wai's case

During recess, some students were looking at photos of their trip and their excited discussion attracted Wai’s attention. When the class bell rang, the students lowered their voices and waited for the teacher. However, Wai thought they were discussing and laughing at a photo of him falling over, so he confronted them angrily. He shouted and attacked them, asking them to hand over the photo of him falling over, which confused his classmates.

Negative sample

  • In this video, the parent expressed his anger towards the child.
  • The child was reprimanded without consideration for his feelings.

Children are influenced by their parents from birth. Reactive aggressors observe such behaviour in their parents, and therefore learn to espond to pressure with agitated emotions. If parents are unable to refrain from emotional outbursts when expressing dissatisfaction with their children’s misbehaviour, they will not be able to convince their children to behave, nor encourage them to face up to their own mistakes.

Instant intervention (Assist children to take others’ perspectives by sharing parents’ personal experiences)

  • Try to listen to the explanations of children.
  • Use ‘I message’ to frankly express a one’s own feelings, as a parent, then give advice to children for improvement.

Parents must first master their own emotions, then listen patiently to their children’s explanation of the incident, so that the children can sense their parents’ care and respect. Parents can try to express their feelings and expectations by using ‘I-message’ (please refer to Chapter 5), and let children learn how to respond appropriately to interpersonal conflicts. Parents can also share their own experience of calming themselves down, and discuss other methods that the children could try.

Long-term intervention

  • Suggest that children vent their agitated emotions in a positive way.

Parents should explore some ways to consume their children’s extra energy when attempting to prevent them from using violence or aggression to solve problems. This could include, for example, doing exercise or energetic housework.

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© 2019 City University of Hong Kong          Project on Children and Adolescents at Risk Education (Project C.A.R.E.)