Violence brings more violence

IT IS difficult to tell if there has been a rise in violence from children toward parents, according to Pam Lewis, director of client services at Relationships Australia.

“We don't deal with the general population,” she said.

“The group we deal with is already experiencing problems.”

What is clear, Ms Lewis said, is children who grow up in families where there is violence and high conflict are more likely to be violent.

“If physical ways of reacting are tolerated then children may become violent,” she said.

Violence often began in adolescence, Ms Lewis said.

“Teenagers may discover they are bigger and stronger than their parents,” she said.

“If they have grown up in a culture of violence then it is a natural progression.

“If they get into drugs it makes it worse.”

The most important thing parents can give their children is emotional warmth and structure.

“Children need to feel loved, parents need to be predictable and have clear boundaries,” she said.

Ms Lewis said often children who lashed out came from families where the parents had tried to be democratic. Some parents were afraid to set down boundaries because they did not want to be authoritarian or disciplinarians.

“Trying to be democratic with children might work when they are young, but it stops working when they are teenagers.

“Parents need to lay down clear boundaries because children don't have the resources to make good decisions for themselves.”

And smacking was never the best way to respond to a child's behaviour.

“A measured response it what is required,” she said.

“Parents need to stop, remove the child and show the child that the behaviour is not tolerated. Lots of parents find it hard to keep up good parenting responses because it can be hard to follow through in stressful situations.”

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