Category: Aggression


Behaviors are learned, and aggression is a learned behavior. When children are young, the foundation is set for the ways they will shape their personality and behaviors. Parents and caregivers who use patient, consistent, firm, and loving guidance can learn to shape a child’s ability to cope with his or her anger and aggression.


What do you think about this?  Do you know of any parents whose children are angry and aggressive towards others?  Do you think their parents have a stake in the way they behavior or do you think it’s the environment in which they live?



What does aggression look like in children of different ages? Infants The most common complaint with infants is their crying or biting, both signs of aggression. Crying is one way children talk. They let you know when they are happy (coo and babble) or when they need something (cry). We should find out what they need and provide it, whether it be a dry diaper, food, or warm touches. Toddlers In toddlers, the most aggressive acts occur over toys. To adults it looks like fighting, but to children it’s learning how to get along. They have not learned how to say, “Let’s play.” The overuse of a “time-out” or a “thinking chair” can cause children to act more aggressively the next time. However, turning the incident into a punishment or control by force will only cause the child to think of ways to strike back. It may help to ask the child to rest from the activity that creates aggression.


The family

The level of family stress and the positive and negative interactions of the family influence children learning aggression. Children model their behavior after adults around them, observing and imitating how others handle their anger and frustration.

The community

Communities that understand and support children’s rights are communities that support children and all their developmental stages. Places where there are supportive adults and healthy alternatives for recreation can protect children while they are learning to deal with many situations, including those that give rise to aggression.

The environment

Some studies have found that housing, schools, and neighborhoods can contribute to aggression. For example, extreme heat or overcrowding has been shown to increase aggression.

The culture

What sorts of models are children exposed to on television and in the community? When people try to solve problems with physical violence, children mistakenly learn that this is an appropriate behavior.



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



For both boys and girls, the rates of aggressive behavior peak around age 3. It is around age 4 that gender differences begin to emerge, as girls show greater responsivity to socialization pressures and a marked decline in their aggressive

behavior. Gender differences in aggressive behavior remain fairly robust through middle childhood, decreasing in late adolescence and adulthood. Beginning in early childhood, boys are more likely to engage in rough-andtumble

play; whereas girls typically play less physically and more so in dyads. Sex role prohibitions against physical aggression are stronger for girls. Physically aggressive girls are more disliked by peers than their male counterparts. For girls, aggression tends to be expressed in close relationships, rather than in the community at large. Boys tend to make up after a fight with another boy more quickly than girls do when they fight with other girls. Therefore, the conflict among boys is usually less disruptive of ongoing group activity than it is among girls. Boys who are slighted by other boys tend to shrug off such treatment. Girls are more likely to become upset when they are victims of relational aggression (slights, put downs, rolling of eyes, signs of social rejection). Girls are more likely to form close intimate friendships with a small subset of girls, typically one or two. These friendships are marked by sharing of

confidences and self-disclosure, rather than their participating in group activities and group games. Girls are more likely to evidence a “rejection sensitivity.” Girls (even as infants) show evidence of more empathy than boys and stronger affiliative tendencies. Girls also show more guilt, remorse and prosocial behaviors. Girls are more likely to show evidence of what is called a “tend-andbefriend” response pattern, rather than a “fight or flight” behavioral pattern. Such female empathy provides a potential source of strength and resilience that can be martialed in treatment. Parents, as well as teachers, tend to discourage physical aggression in girls and tolerate and encourage it in boys. Girls tend to withdraw from competitive situations more than boys.  by

Donald Meichenbaum, Ph.D.


Why are children aggressive?  Sometimes children do not have the social skills or self control to manage their behaviors.  These must be taught.  when children can’t find the words to deal with aggressive feelings or are not encouraged to express themselves, them become frustrated.  At other times children cannot cope with growing levels of anger within themselves or in others.  In both cases children need to learn acceptable ways to assert themselves and to learn coping skills. by Karen DeBord


How does boys differ in aggression compared to girls?

1.  boys prevent more violent crimes than girls

2. boys commit more antisocial crimes than girls but girls are catching up by entering into the juvenile system at ayounger age and at a higher rate


Should parents discourage the use of punishment when disciplining their children because sometimes it might have an opposite effect than what was intended.  Children whose parents punish them for aggressive behavior are more likely to be aggressive; children whose mothers punish them to toilet train them are more likely to wet their beds subsequently.  Tell me what do you think



There are three different types of aggression: instrumental aggression, reactive aggression, and relational aggression.  One way to classify aggression is by its motive.  Instrumental aggression is the name for hurtful behavior that is actively initiated to achieve a goal.  example:  Dayonna kicks Gonzo to gain possession of the basketball or Tynell spreads a rumor about Iberia to replace her as Pam’s best friend.




What is aggression ?  the action of a state in violating by force the rights of another state, particularly its territorial rights; an unprovoked offensive, attack, invasion, or the like:  The practice of making assaults or attacks; offensive action in general.  Psychiatry . overt or suppressed hostility, either innate or resulting from continued frustration and directed outward or against oneself.