Do 3-5 year olds understand what they’re doing when they engage in aggression?
Do they think aggression is acceptable behaviour?
As part of my research I explored some of these questions to get a better understanding about why young children choose to use aggression in their social relationships. Here were some of the key findings:
- Relationally aggressive and typically developing children both acknowledged that aggression was serious and unacceptable
- Younger children were more likely to believe that aggression was more acceptable than older children
- Relationally aggressive children had higher quality social interactions and relationships with their peers and adults suggesting that they may be more socially skilled than non-aggressive children
- Non-aggressive children suggested more aggressive behaviours when responding to provocation from peers
- Some aggressive children can also display higher levels of prosocial behaviour and can use this to more effectively manipulate their peers
If you would like to read more about this research, you can access the publication in the International Journal of Early Childhood here.