Where aggression comes from, and what it looks like, vary from person to person. For some, aggression is the physical or verbal expression of intense frustration, anger, sadness, or feeling overwhelmed (AACAP, 2015). It’s the result of emotions building up past the point of a person’s ability to regulate or control their reactions. It can be a sign that a person has no other tools or outlet to release these emotions.
Experiencing a bit of frustration can often be useful in building resilience and patience. It helps the brain and body learn how to navigate and adapt to difficult situations. Oftentimes, however, children do not yet have the skills and ability to appropriately manage their frustration. When this happens, kids who struggle with low frustration tolerance often express their feelings through aggressive behavior, tantrums, outbursts, and meltdowns.
Although aggression is a sign that someone is in some sort of need or additional support, that does not mean dealing with aggression is not difficult for siblings, parents, teachers, and others in a child’s life. It is not unusual for children younger than 4 to have as many as nine tantrums per week, with episodes of crying, kicking, stomping, hitting, and pushing that last five to 10 minutes (Yale Medicine, 2019). If this aggression continues as a child gets older and causes problems with peers, family, or at school, it may be helpful to talk with a professional about potential options for additional support.
Mightier can help children manage the impulses that lead to aggression
Mightier helps children who are engaging in aggressive behaviors improve emotion regulation by teaching their brain and body to respond differently when they feel increased emotion. Through a process of repetitive calming during gameplay, children develop an ability to remain in better emotional control from the start, return to a state of calm more automatically, and think and communicate more clearly despite stressful situations in real life.
Families who use Mightier report observing their child taking deep breaths when upset, calming down more naturally, managing frustrations better than before, and interacting in a more positive way with family members.
Adults can help make Mightier even more impactful for children who struggle with aggression
Playing Mightier on a regular basis, outside of moments of aggression, is the key to strengthening a child’s ability to better manage increased emotion in a way that will translate to real-life situations. There are also strategies families can implement to make Mightier even more applicable to a child’s real-world frustrations. Talking about Mightier and making connections between Mightier and real-world situations are two ways that parents can help their kids get the most out of the program. For caregivers of kids who demonstrate aggressive behavior, this would include conversations about how frustration works in the body to raise the heart rate and physiologically activate us (fight or flight response), and how Mightier helps us lower our heart rate using deep breathing and other calming skills instead of using aggressive behavior.
Caregivers of Mightier players who struggle with aggression have found it helpful to work with their kids on identifying potential triggers for the aggression, and pairing Mightier play to triggering situations when possible and when it feels appropriate. For example, some caregivers have their kids play Mightier before school as it allows the child to strengthen their calming abilities first thing in the morning. For kids who feel easily frustrated with peers or siblings, playing Mightier before or after these interactions can be helpful.
Integrating Mightier into a child’s care system can also be beneficial. The concept of how Mightier works, as well as its unique and gamified vocabulary for emotions, are often easier and more comfortable ways for children to talk about emotions and coping skills. By sharing Mightier with a child’s teacher, therapist, or other family members, children’s care providers can find a consistent and common language across settings.
Mightier offers a different way to support children who struggle with aggression
Many kids struggle with traditional therapeutic modalities, as they involve an authority figure (parent, teacher, or a therapist.) Mightier is an opportunity for kids to practice emotional regulation in a self-directed way. Through emotion regulation skill-building during gameplay, children are able to practice and find success on their own terms.
AACAP. (2015). Violent behavior in children and adolescents. Retrieved December 14, 2021, from https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Understanding-Violent-Behavior-In-Children-and-Adolescents-055.aspx
Yale Medicine. (2019). Anger, irritability and aggression in kids. Yale Medicine. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/anger-issues-in-children-and-teens.