The Physically and Verbally Aggressive Child (page 2)
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.
Classroom Behaviors of Aggressive Young Children
- In motion even when seated (arms and legs are still overly active)
- Pick up then quickly discard objects
- May run and chase, putting themselves in dangerous positions or disrupting the classroom (leaving the school grounds, climbing to the tops of shelves, or pulling the cap on the indoor water table) and forcing adults to run after them
- May dislike quiet (such as at rest time) and will fill the void with own voice or with tapping sounds that annoy others
- Run, never just walk, or walk stiffly like a robot as if using effort to stop and control themselves
- Facial expressions are serious and intense; eyes dart from one object to another without ability to focus
- Have quick and intense interest in new activities and appear to push to be first as if fearful they may not get a turn
- When activities require committed focus, they will state angrily "I can't" and go off to something new
- When peers accidentally bump them, they respond with "So and so hit (or hurt) me" and with physical or verbal aggression
- Describe and are convinced that others are trying to hurt them, especially other active children to whom they are attracted
- Will be aggressive toward others without provocation (so fearful that others will hurt them, they hit back first even when not hit)
- When using fluids (finger painting! water play), they lose control of the materials, or love fluids and water play and use materials over and over as if to practice control
- Eat ravenously at snack time and will hoard food as if they are not sure they will get enough
- Cannot relax to fall to sleep at rest time
- May be overly sensitive to stimuli—cannot meet adults eye to eye, cannot be touched (especially for cuddling), sounds trigger increased fear and motor action
- Are light sleepers
- Do not choose or enjoy structured materials (blocks/puzzles) that are demanding and require thought to complete
- When fearful or angry may "pepper" adults with strong, sexually aggressive words
- Get silly and uncontrolled in the toileting area and will urinate on others
- Are feared and rejected by peers
- Play power games with parent at arrival and departure times
- Cannot maintain themselves in groups (circle time, snack time) and will annoy or be aggressive toward peers
© ______ 2004, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Graduation Inspiration: Top 10 Graduation Quotes
- Child Development Theories
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- First Grade Sight Words List
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory