Aggression in children and teens takes many forms, but the most common types are verbal and physical aggression. Sometimes, children are acting on impulses, accompanied by guilt after they realize that they have lashed out. These youths may have chronic problems with attention and impulsivity, or generally have difficulty controlling their behavior, but they essentially want to “be good.” The cause of aggressive behavior may be ADHD, anxiety, or another disorder that leads to a buildup of stress, resulting in impulsive acts to let off steam. Sankofa staff have experience with helping families and youth shape healthier behaviors, pull impulsivity into check, and build routines and rewards into each day.
Children and teens also show behavior problems that are willful, deliberate actions in opposition to adults. When children or adolescents have problems with authority figures, they may have a more serious condition called Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder, which involves aggression along with callousness towards consequences. Often, these youths are no longer interested in “being good,” because they know how to get what they want by “being bad.” Sankofa staff work with families to restructure interactions and support healthier relationships, while assisting individual children and teens with managing their own behaviors and intentions. Usually, oppositional aggression is accompanied by anger. Through individual and family therapy, Sankofa staff can assist clients to overcome anger and other underlying feelings and develop their capacity to express positive emotions.