The Physically and Verbally Aggressive Child
The Physically Aggressive Child
The aggressive child, who can be considered to be slightly more advanced developmentally than the passive child, maintains himself in a general personality state of panicked hyperalertness. The aggressive child is constantly flooded by tension and anxiety, which are dispersed through acts of impassivity and heightened motor activity. His sense modalities are acutely aware, and he is constantly prepared to defend himself. A fellow classmate accidentally bumps him, and he strikes out in an aggressive manner. He appears revengeful to others. He thinks "This world is unsafe and will hurt me, and I must be on the alert to defend myself. I must hit back first before they hit" (see figure below).
Krown (1969) states:
In spite of their usual apathy, at times [they] would react with surprising impulsivity. They would suddenly run away from or destroy something they were making if it were not going well; some would suddenly run. [The aggressive children] frequently exhibited scenes of impulsive behavior, such as throwing themselves on the floor and kicking and screaming when they had to accept restrictions [limits]. (Krown, 1969, p. 55)
The feeling provoked by the aggressive child in the teacher is one of possibly being hurt or fear of not protecting other children from injury.
The Verbally Aggressive Child
Verbal aggression (saying "no," swearing, screaming, bathroom talk and threats) by the child may be seen as demonstrating a more developmentally mature behavior. The verbally aggressive child has the same defensive fears as the physically aggressive child, but he has moved to the use of language. Whereas the physically aggressive child may attack by striking or grabbing, the verbally aggressive child strikes out with aggressive language that may challenge the teacher's power. He is defiant and may begin with a hostile "no I won't" response to the teacher, which is most characteristic. The child may exhibit other forms of verbal aggression, such as back talk, denial, blaming, accusing, insults, and profanity.
The verbally aggressive child seems to dig in his heels and is verbally defiant, challenging the adult's power and abilities to get cooperative actions from him, The teacher working with the verbally aggressive child feels defeated and angry. She may think, "He can't talk to me that way," and may be tempted to use various forms of punishment. The verbally aggressive child expects this punishment, and when it comes it confirms his negative view that others will take actions to hurt him and are not trustworthy.
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