Aggression by children doesn’t always have to involve hitting or shoving. Even at a young age, children learn alternative ways to inflict pain upon others. They learn this behavior as a result of factors relating to their environment, family, community and culture. The type of aggression they choose is also influenced by their gender, age and temperament.


Physical aggression can include hitting, biting, kicking, fighting and bullying. By 17 months of age, a large majority of children are physically aggressive toward siblings, peers and adults, according to a 2004 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. While most of us learn to regulate physical aggression during early childhood, those who don’t are at higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse, accidents, violent crimes, depression, suicide attempts and spousal abuse. They are likely to have mothers with a history of antisocial behavior during their school years, mothers who start childbearing early and who smoke during pregnancy, and parents who have low income and have serious problems living together.


Verbal aggression can include abusing, accusing, shouting or name-calling.  Incidents of verbal aggression are affected by experience, emotional relationships, expectations, individual needs, fears and trust. Among children aged 6 to 11, verbal aggression is more common among girls, according to a 1999 study in the British Journal of Social Psychology. As children grow up, instances of verbal aggression increase, according to a 2009 study in Life and School.


Indirect aggression occurs when the aggressor attempts to inflict pain without making intention to inflict pain obvious. Because intention is not known, the perpetrator is less likely to be identified. Examples include attempting to make the other jealous, gathering other friends to one side or gossiping. Using others to inflict pain on another person is a form of indirect aggression. Girls are more likely to use this form of aggression, possibly because they mature faster verbally than boys do, according to a 1992 study in the journal Aggressive Behavior