In General Knowledge for the Family, Parenting

Is Your Child Aggressive?

People can exhibit aggressive behavior for a number of reasons. Everyone from children to adults to the elderly can become aggressive at times. There has been much attention paid to the reasons behind the aggressive behaviors of certain people.

What Does Aggressive Mean? defines the term aggressive as “characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing.” Another definition of aggressive is “boldly assertive and forward; pushy.” This particular aggressive definition is often applied to people who have succeeded in life by stepping on others to get to the top.

Synonyms for aggressive include:

  • militant.
  • forceful.
  • enterprising.
  • pugnacious.

Another aggressive synonym is assertive, though this is somewhat stating the obvious since the word assertive is also used in the dictionary entry for aggressive. When it comes to a person’s behavior assertive is often the basic way most people define aggressive.

When people ask themselves “what is aggression”, there is not always a clear cut answer to the question. There are several different types of aggression and each has its own unique meaning. The aggression definition often changes from decade to decade as people find new ways to display the act.

Hostile aggression is defined as an emotionally driven and impulsive person becoming a perpetrator against others. It is often compared to instrumental aggression, which is a type of behavior practiced by people who are cold blooded and proactive. These people often do things to harm others that are premeditated. Those who engage in behavior that is classified as instrumental aggression do so in order to coerce other people and to make a situation end with the outcome the individual prefers. People guilty of instrumental aggression are generally thought to lack empathy for others. They also tend not to feel guilty about their actions and to be unemotional people in general.

In some cases, infants who have been neglected or abused may end up suffering from the hostile form of aggression. This usually stays with them through their years of school unless a responsible adult intervenes into the situation. For school aged children who hold this kind of hostility it is not uncommon for them to bully others because their peers admire their ability to make other students fear them.

Reactive aggression is defined as the act of creating a physical situation that causes harm to others. The person who committed the act does not care what the consequences of their actions are. The reasons why this type of aggression occurs in some people are that they are codependent, they learned to behave this way and/or they inherited it from family. Codependent people feel like they have no control over their lives and that all they can do is try to make other people like them. When a codependent person feels as if someone else is controlling them, they panic and overreact to the situation. People who are generally nervous all the time can also suffer with this type of aggression because they may have experienced an event in their past that traumatized them. Personality traits that run in families can sometimes cause this aggression in people as well.

Aggressive Behavior In Children

It is not unusual for children to become aggressive when they grow up in an environment that is bad for them. Even the youngest children can become aggressive if their home life gives them a reason to. The more stable a child’s home life is, the less likely they are to act out. It is especially important that toddlers and preschool aged children are supervised constantly in order to ensure their behavior is normal and acceptable. Managing a child’s behavior at this age is crucial for their development.

The Aggression Scale

An article written by individuals from the University of Georgia and University of Texas at Houston goes into the details of the scale aggression is measured on. There are 11 important items that make up the scale. These items are used to determine how aggressive children are overall. The scale specifically measures the aggressiveness of students in the sixth through eighth grades who have openly admitted that they are aggressive.

According to the article, it is very important for schools to intervene when they see their students be aggressive to others. It states that the earlier in their childhood their aggressiveness is recognized the less likely they are to become violent later in life. One issue that surrounds this idea is that while there are established instruments for dealing with aggressiveness in such groups, as children who suffer from ADD, there are no established instruments for dealing with everyday elementary school aggressive behavior. Schools across the country are organizing violence prevention programs in attempt to cut down how often their students become aggressive.

Developing The Scale

The scale used for assessing the aggression of children was developed using physically and verbally aggressive behavior that is most commonly seen in children during their junior high school years. When this scale was first created, it used 17 items, and was applied to 85 sixth grade students divided between two schools.

During the initial evaluation of this scale, six out of the original 17 items were removed. Of those six items three of them were removed from the scale because over time they only displayed a low level of stability. One of the six items was removed from the scale due to the fact that it was not able to measure what it was supposed to be able to, which was interpersonal aggression. Another of the items was removed from the scale because students did not consider the item to be aggressive.

Once the scale was finalized, the remaining 11 items were meant to indicate behaviors a student could display which have the potential to end up harming other students in a psychological way or a physical way. Though the majority of the questions on the scale are specifically speaking about aggressive behavior between students during school hours it can also apply to situations that happen off school property.

The results of the study of this scale showed that children who scored high on the scale were becoming injured in fights at school. The overall scores showed that students became more aggressive because they increased the amount of alcohol they were drinking. There was a direct correlation found between parents not watching their children and the children drinking alcohol as a result. This led to their increasingly aggressive behavior.

Aggressive Communication

Regardless of their age, some people cannot communicate with others unless it is done aggressively. This type of communication is used by people who are not concerned with other peoples’ feelings. They are generally seen by others as not willing to communicate with anyone in a healthy way. They are also usually considered to be selfish people. When someone choose to communicate with others in an aggressive manner, it is generally because they seek revenge on others and/or want to hurt them. People who never fully developed emotionally tend to act this way. Aggressive meaning is usually reserved for people who engage in this type of communication.

Aggressive Driving

Many aggressive adults release their aggression while driving their vehicle. The National Safety Council identifies certain behaviors that classify a driver as aggressive. Some of these behaviors include:

  • changing lanes when unnecessary.
  • running traffic lights.
  • speeding.
  • tailgating drivers ahead of them.

Surveys asking drivers for their opinions have revealed that most people feel driving aggressively is the biggest threat anyone faces when traveling on a highway. The problem is that not all aggressive drivers recognize their bad habits.

There are several reasons identified pertaining to why a growing number of drivers are adopting aggressive habits behind the wheel. One of these reasons is a general lack of responsibility felt by drivers. Another reason is that law enforcement is often lax about cracking down on those who drive aggressively. Still another reason is that urban areas are becoming increasingly congested with drivers. Residents of the U.S. are driving significantly more miles than they were even 30 years ago. However, roads are not expanding or multiplying in order to handle this increase in the number of drivers on the road.

Tips that the National Safety Council gives to avoid driving aggressively include not driving while overly emotional, planning ahead and expecting that delays will happen and focusing on one’s driving rather than becoming obsessed with other people’s. Following these tips can help people avoid having to have aggressive insurance for their vehicle.

Aggressive Women

Driving isn’t the only way in which people are aggressive, especially women. In a 2007 article on it states that a survey done by the University of Pittsburgh determined that the amount of serotonin a woman has in her body has a direct correlation with how aggressive she is. The amount of serotonin in a person’s body regulates aggressive behavior. People with lower levels of serotonin are more likely to act aggressively than those with higher levels of it.

The University of Pittsburgh study was conducted in a Behavioral Physiology laboratory. The study involved 550 European women tested to see if their was evidence of aggressive tendencies present in their genes. Women with a certain amount of the 2C gene were proven to have lower aggression levels than their counterparts. The results of this study determined that doctors should pay special attention to anyone suffering from glucose metabolism or cardiovascular diseases because these people are more likely to be aggressive than others.



Micro Aggression

When someone engages in micro aggression it is often seen as a way to bully others. As a result, schools across the country must deal with this type of aggression among their students. The problem is that this type of aggression is not as widely recognized as other types. Not everyone realizes it. Experts feel that it counts as bullying just as much as any other form of it. One of the issues behind this behavior is that sometimes a person consciously practices this type of aggression and other times they do it without even realizing it.

The behaviors that define this type of aggression include insensitive comments about other people as well as making assumptions about a person based on factors such as their ethnicity, background or physical or mental disability. Spreading awareness about this type of aggression is something that experts encourage.

Non Aggression Pact

Though a non aggression pact is something mostly associated with states and/or countries, a different version of it is being applied to people throughout the United States. It is a pact that gets students, parents, teachers and communities to make a concerted effort to avoid being aggressive towards others. These pacts are showing up in schools and even daycare centers in an attempt to calm a nation of people who often act before they think. This type of pact encourages people to solve their problems with each other in ways that are safe and socially acceptable.

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