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Determining if there is a serious problem

Adapted from Acting Out: Understanding and Reducing Aggressive Behaviour in Children and Youth (© 2007)

If you are trying to determine if a student has a serious problem with aggression, you can ask yourself a number of key questions to help you decide.

Working with children who have mental health problems that may include aggressive behaviour

In this section, you will find information on mental health disorders that children who display aggressive behaviour may be diagnosed with by qualified health care providers.

Children who have been diagnosed with a disorder may find themselves facing prejudice and discrimination. Many people have negative attitudes about people with mental health problems; they may also avoid people who have mental health problems by excluding them from regular parts of life (such as friendships, sports and other activities).

You can avoid labelling students by carefully choosing the language you use and by not focusing on the disorder during your day-to-day interactions with the student or during conversations with others. For example, instead of speaking about a boy's conduct disorder, you might say, "He has some problems controlling his anger and frustration, and we are working together to resolve those problems." Instead of referring to an "aggressive child," you might speak about "a child who is behaving aggressively and who is working toward changing her behaviour in future."

In Addressing aggressive behaviour

Discouraging bullying

Addressing "normal" aggression

 - Preventing aggression

 - Managing aggression

Determining if a young person has a serious problem with aggression

Working with young people who have mental health problems that may include aggressive behaviour 

 - Disruptive behaviour disorders

    - Oppositional defiant disorder

    - Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

    - Conduct disorder

    - Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder