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RADHIKA

This unexplainable violence goes on right from the time they start prep school until the 3rd
standard(8 yrs old) because thats when they begin to understand their actions. What often happens
with children especially younger ones, is that they don’t have the language to explain and express
their emotions. They may be able to talk to you about a whole lot of other things but they are not able
to tell you what they are experiencing or feeling and so they often resort to physical outbursts of
emotion. If you see a child being punched, he doesnt necessarily know how to react to that so he
punches back. With respect to violence u see in children, it could be something that can be explained,
and something that cannot be explained. When it can be explained, thats because children are being
exposed to alot of violence, like tv, music, video games-this is aomething they srart playing when they
are as young as 4 and 5 yrs old, etc. Also exposure to violence at home, which doesn’t necessarily
mean physical abuse between the husband and wife, but also verbal violence or the parent hitting the
other child. Then when parents are not consistent with their disciplining or reinforcements(today if the
child hits his sister, he is punished but hes not punished the next time this happens). Also, when
parents are not giving their love and time to the child-when the child returns from school the parents
are busy with work and they ask what happened in school today, and it ends there. They don’t really
have time to do things together, etc. When children are exposed to several kinds of emotions at
home, like anger, sadness etc. Alot of parents don’t show them how to deal with emotions. Kids have
alot of emotions they don’t have the language to express nor do they know how to deal with it.
Parents are busy at home, they have difficulties at home so the kids are just seeing it , don’t know how
to deal with it, so when they come to school, Its a place where they can vent out. And thers one
teacher handling 30 children so she cant keep give each child undivided attention and ther is low skill
enhancement, so they resort to physical outbursts. Most often, more than that kids are just modelling
what they see. Parents are too busy to supervise their tv time, they are just happy that the kids are
occupied while they are working. Kids know what to watch, what gives them a kick, we know of kids
who watch something and try the stunts. Its alot about copying what they see. When they are not
supervised and told consequences of actions, the child continues to do the same. On the other end of
the spectrum, its lalso about difficulty, actually a mental condition. You have violence accompanied by
attention disorder. How much ever you try to explain to a child he doesn’t get it. It requires a different
kind of intervention. So when these kids hit other kids they don’t feel sorry at all, lack remorse. They
continue this behaviour even if u try to explain to them. So when it’s a disorder, it’s not that kids do
things because they just want to do it. They can’t help it. And this behaviour carries on later in life, and
they develop anti social trends. It’s either:
Lack of difficulty in expressing themselves,
Immitating,
Not being told consequences,
Mental illness or disorder.
There’s something known as operational defy disorder. So there’s a lot of impulsive action. Sometimes
a kid will get up and just punch another kid. Very often its unprovoked. This is mostly seen in kids
between 5 and 7. We need to shift our focus from violence for fun and just to be cute to what is it
really showing us. People say of he must have seen it somewhere..how naughty and cute. Unless this is
not stopped early on, it will turn into something criminal and serious. Children of ages below 9 yrs are
not able to think about their actions. If he punches a kid and the other one cries, but when someone
punches him and he cries and u ask him so now u know how he felt, he may or may not understand.
Even between 5 to 7, you’ll find very different kids. Some may get it and not repeat it again, whereas
some genuinely don’t get it. It has a lot to do with the developmental context ur placing the child in.

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If u are looking at a particular age group, you could read up on Piaget’s theories. He talks about
cognitive development. So there you’ll find out about abstract thinking, concrete thinking and how
that can effect social interactions. It also depends on how its reinforced at home. It works well when
kids are told the same thing at school and at home, but there are times when different things are said.
I know of alot of parents who don’t know whats been happening at school and are later shocked to
find out what their child has been upto. They maybe act differently in school and differently at home
where they may be trying to get attention from parents. 5-7 years, is a yr of major transition for them-
they have come from play schools to structured schools which demands them to be extremely
disciplined(sit straight, walk in a straight line, etc). That doesn’t make them violent but just adds up.
Emotions pile up.
Role play - read stories to them to explain scenarios. Talk about the problems in the story and ask
them how they would deal with it. From this, you get to know what level they are at.
I feel that kids are too much under the adult scanner. When kids do something it becomes a big deal
but we as adults also act violently to vent out our frustrations. We are also using objects to extend our
emotions. But we have reached a point where we don’t slap one and another but that is only because
we have been told right from wrong. With kids it’s also about socializing and about having to be told
repeatedly. Teachers would be able to give u more on what they observe in class. I would be able to
tell u more form an illness/health point of view.
When talking to kids about their problems, what do you say to get them to talk?
With younger kids, I make them draw. So I ask them to draw about their day, and then I ask them
questions. And when talking to them u need to go down to their level and say what could ‘we’ have
done, not what YOU could have done. That scares them and they just keep quiet. You need to be very
straight forward while asking questions. With older kids, I ask them to write it down. They relate to that
better rather than openly talking about it.
A good way to ask what makes them angry?
Introduce a puppet. Make them sit around in a group and bring in a puppet and say ‘This is Timmy the
frog, he is very upset today, can we all think of why Timmy is upset....’ Then kids start adding. These
reasons are mostly their personal experiences. Or u can start by saying ‘I think Timmy is upset because
his teacher shouted at him. What do you think?’
You could also read up on Play therapy. Read up on Virginia Axline. shes written a book called play
therapy and Dibbs in search of self. She’s worked a lot with play therapy. Give them a set of animal toys
and ask them to play with it. Ask them to choose the father, the mother etc, and play with them. Also
play changes when the child is by himself and with others. Abroad they use one way mirrors to
observe kids individually but here in India it doesn’t happen due to ethical issues. Also, when a child
knows im looking, his behaviour changes drastically. If your looking at a issue related to home. Give
them a picture of a house and ask them to draw the people in the house.
Can i give children a doll and different tools to play with, like a scissor, pins etc without turning
them into serial killers?
It’s okay if you get written parental consent. Also if you’re giving them 5 safe things, give them 1
unsafe thing. Don’t make it an equal ratio of the safe and unsafe things.
Cruelty to animals?
Give them a stuffed dog, ask them to name it. If u want we can all play together or u can play with it
alone however u want. And, it might be better to do this over a few days. Make sure u get structured
and unstructured play time. Unstructured play time will be very different from when they are being
supervised. When looking at kids as young as 5 and 7, parents may be a little resistant. So just give
them a write up about your project. Reduce giving too much information. Give them the rationale of
your study, why u require them and that ur not intending to cause harm to them.

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Reduce words like violence and aggression. Say ur exploring the way children interact rather than
using words like violence and aggression. Ask kids what did WE do rather than what did YOU do and
point fingers at them. Use small words, come down to their level.
Also if you are giving kids naked dolls, you need to tell parents because kids might go home and ask
what is this, what is that.
Distance yourself from the topic a little bit. Include a paradigm somewhere that its not always a behav-
ioural choice but could be a disorder or an illness as well. Because sometimes we spend a lot of time
researching 1 perspective that we don’t look at other perspectives.
Tom and jerry is a great example of violence because its all about beating up and getting up again
unhurt, there’s no appreciation and understanding of my hurting someone.
We don’t watch what we say all the time. I love u so much I want to squash u, ur so cute I want to eat
you, if u do this, this will happen, etc. Especially for kids that are beaten, as long as the kids know they
are being punished for what they did and not for who they are, it’s okay otherwise they may grow up
to become violent.
When kids are angry how do you talk to them?
For younger kids, u tell them, if u don’t like something u should say u don’t like it, etc. For older kids,
you tell them imagine yourself in that position etc. We also try relaxation and breathing techniques if
verbal strategies don’t work. For younger ones it’s more of role play. Let’s change places, you are me
and I am you. I will act how u feel, tell me what to do.
Make them watch something (Karadi tales), and see how they react. After 15 minutes, make them sit in
a circle and talk to them. Do they find something violent when it’s not really violent, or if there is
something violent and they don’t notice it.
At every point go back to your rationale and check if you need to do that. Read up on the ethics to
work with children. Read APA code of ethics. Since your research is psychological and your output is
design. Sometimes they are violent to protect themselves. It’s okay as long as they know it could hurt
the other person but still not advisable.

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