The idea that aggression, both physical and emotional, arises in children from their observations of the methods used by their parents is fairly common, the need for greater research into the paths by which youths develop their behaviors is clear. In an effort to better understand a range of facets about the use of aggression and other controlling techniques among children and their parents, a study was performed in Belgium with telling results about the ways in which children are influenced. The study followed six hundred children ranging in age from eight to ten years old, along with their families, providing surveys about the ways in which behavior was controlled within the home.
In addition to these surveys, the participating children were scored as to their levels of physical and emotional aggressiveness not only by parents, but by their schoolteachers and peers as well. After collecting a great wealth of data, the researchers discovered that those children who lived in physically aggressive environments were considerably more likely to exhibit the same behaviors of physical aggressiveness at home and in school. Interestingly, however, children who were frequently exposed to relational aggression, described as the intentional manipulation of a relationship in order to serve some end, were found to practice similar behaviors at home but not among their peers or in school.
These distinctions may shed light on the presence of examples and influences from sources other than parents among the experiences of developing children. In tandem with this consideration, the strength of the adoption of physical aggressiveness may become a more prevalent concern among those in the mental health and family therapy professions. While the study is of great benefit in the quest to understand precisely how and why children develop their behavioral patterns, the continuation and diversification of such research is necessary to achieve a more accurate perspective.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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