Aggression is a complex behavior, and there are a number of possible reasons that underpin aggression in children. Much like having a headache or feeling fatigued, the issue for one person might have a totally different root cause for someone else. In order to treat aggression, it’s important to determine what’s causing it. Child Mind provides a helpful series of possible causes for aggression in children.
Mood disorders – most notably bipolar disorder - could lead to aggressive manic episodes during which kids who act out randomly and are unable to calm down. Children and teens with depression can also act aggressively, for instance when irritation has been pent up over time.
Fearful or disturbed kids who suffer from psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia may also display aggression through their suspicion of others or paranoia of things that are out of their control.
Children may also express cognitive impairments with aggression. This is likely a result of the child feeling unable to communicate their frustrated or anxious feelings.
Disruptive behavior, as is common among children who have ADHD, can often appear aggressive. In this case, kids are likely not aware of the impact of their actions – but a lack of foresight is different from intentionally causing harm. It’s important to distinguish ADHD aggression from Conduct Disorder, in which kids deliberately act aggressively or violently toward others.