Extreme aggressive behavior may be manifested through a physically aggressive act or when the act is restricted through words, looks, or thoughts.  The cause of aggressive behavior can be quite varied.  It is often caused by the child’s reaction to parental overindulgence or worse overprotection associated with parental rejection.  It is also frequently caused by a child’s reaction to severe physical punishment.  Whatever the underlying cause may be, the aggressive child is very frustrated and is unable to relieve his frustration in more socially acceptable ways.  Aggressive behavior is worsened when adults comply with the child’s demands.  Each successful experience on the part of the child tends to perpetuate the behavior.  The overindulged child often tends to use this behavior at home rather than with strangers.


  1. The parents should not physically punish the child by using the same physical force they are trying to teach him to avoid.  They should wait until the behavior has subsided before any reasoning begins.

  2. Sometimes having the child with older, larger children is helpful.

  3. Activities which exploit opportunities for aggressive play should also be considered, such as running, hammering, pounding,  using a punching bag, etc.

  4. The child should be given increased responsibility when possible.  The child who sees himself as responsible for consistent routines tend to use aggressive behavior far less than a child who needs constant reminders to perform chores.

  5. When it becomes necessary to remove the child from an aggressive situation it should be done without comment and with as little aggression or physical restraint as possible on the part of the adult.  A cooling off period should then follow before any reasoning begins.  When reasoning is attempted, emphasis should be placed on helping the child realize the negative consequences that the behavior causes for him.

  6. Teach the child to anticipate and avoid frustrating situations, which may induce aggressive behavior.

  7. Help the child develop more socially acceptable and less destructive means of channeling his anger.  Find something that is “OK” for him to do when his is angry, until he gradually gains greater control over aggressive impulses.

  8. The home situation should be examined to determine whether the parents are unwittingly encouraging aggressive behavior by example or by inhibiting or intimidating the child.

  9. Accepting profanity or sarcasm without undue reaction so these expressions will not be fixed in as habits.

  10. Removing the child from a stressful situation so his or her fears may be calmed.

  11. Providing the proximity of an adult figure.  This often has a controlling influence on the child.

  12. Separating children who have an antagonizing effect on each other.

  13. Providing a shortened school day for very disturbed, aggressive pupils.

  14. Providing companionship with stronger and more mature peers.

  15. Reinforcing all non-antagonistic conduct with concrete rewards and then gradually substituting verbal reinforcers.

  16. Teaching the undesirable effects of aggressive behavior to pupils when they do not realize consequences of this nature exist.

  17. Referring the child and his or her parents for psychological evaluation and professional help if the aggression is shown to an extreme degree.


  1. High aggression in children is accepted by peers if the aggression is appropriate to its origin.  Unprovoked, displaced, out-of-context, and diffuse aggression is not received well.

  2. Exposure to aggressive models heightens aggressive responses in children to subsequent frustration.  This raises a serious question. Should hostile pupils be put in special classes with other aggressive students?  Perhaps not.  

  3. Aggressive male models are more powerful stimulators than female aggressive models to heighten children’s anger responses.  

  4. Rather than draining off aggression, TV and movies’ aggressive models tend to enhance aggression in children.

  5. Providing aggressive children with alternative and constructive ways of coping with interpersonal frustration has been found to be a highly successful method in modifying aggressive-domineering personality patterns.  

According to Schaeffer and Von Nessen, aggressive adolescent girls had few  skills and poor understanding about how to avoid retaliating in like manner when met by aggression, either by peers or adults.  Through role playing, they taught the girls to turn aside aggression without feeling they lost face.

Analyses of the sessions revealed issues centering around:  

  1. Difficulties in understanding and coping with school middle-class values.

  2. The wish of the girls to be accepted by certain teachers and the problems they had in expressing this wish.  

  3. The fact that the girls had many ways of showing hostility but possessed few ways of showing the opposite kinds of feeling.  

  4. The anger of the girls at favoritism shown by some staff members that was not only a matter of race and social status but also a matter of sex.  They saw boys as being allowed a great deal more freedom.

When pressed with these findings, the staff members could deal more effectively, directly, and openly with these girls, the authors found.