Aggressive Parents, Aggressive Children

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 13 October 2016

Aggressive Parents, Aggressive Children

Growing up, kids have a lot of influences in their life; from television to peers children will always absorb something. With this being said the biggest influence on a child would have to be the people there with the most- their family. Because this is unarguably true, it would then be fair to then assume that parental/ sibling aggression could have a big impact on future relationships caused by development. What is aggression one may ask?

Aggression is a hostile, injurious, destructive behaviour or outlook especially when caused by frustration. Human development would be everything that happened from the moment a child thinks for the first time, then. Sigmund Freud was one psychologist who theorizes that those who have experienced trauma from aggression in the home will often use defense mechanisms to disregard unwanted emotions. This leaves a negative effect on the unconscious mind and makes a person act irrationally. By comparing cultures and examining how nature vs. urture, the theme of pies and how the ecological theory all come into play when dealing with the way children treat relationships, it is hoped that one will see that aggression in the home will indeed lead to negative relationships for the child’s near future. One key question many would ask and not for only this topic (but many on the mind in general), would be are these actions and thoughts merely influenced by parents, or are they born with the “defect” and therefore forced to live with it. The argument of nature vs. nurture is a question that has baffled even the most renowned of psychologists.

Both sides have strong supporting arguments therefore coming up with an end answer would be impossible for one to do. In Daena’s article, entitled “Is Aggressive Behaviour Biologically or Environmentally Based? ” Daena proposes that aggression is learned. Supporting herself by linking aggression with Skinner’s rat, continuing by saying aggression is caused by positive reinforcement (reward). By calming a kid down with a toy, the child would have received the “reward”, now the child understands if he does this, then another “reward” should come.

One way this could be seen in a household could be when a father cusses after he hurts himself. The child could subconsciously perceive that the pain and expression on the father going away shortly after was his reward, therefore the child takes on the habit. This does put some weight on the nurture side because the reward is what causes any outcome. But, Professor Richard Tremblay of the University of Montreal says that “We do not need to learn to aggress, but to not aggress. In this indirect argument with the other article mentioned Tremblay suggests that children are aggressive by nature and learn how to control their aggression at around 4 years old. When linking nature or nurture to aggression one must understand that they really can’t choose an option and be satisfied with their decision. “PIES” stands for the four kinds of development; physical, intellectual, emotional, social. When children witness aggression at home almost every kind of development are interrupted. Physical development includes growth of bone muscles, motor skills and senses.

Intellectual development includes the maturation of mental process, such as learning, imagination, memory and perception. When a child is used to seeing aggression exhibited by their parents, they will associate that violence will many things they see on a daily basis. For example the first time the child sees adults mating on television, etc. Their first instinct would usually be to believe that the couple is actually fighting. This shows that what they sense would be different from what’s actually happening therefore proving a negative outcome.

Emotional development includes the maturation and evolution of emotions, social skills, identity, and morals. If a child grows up witnessing spousal abuse from an early age, and isn’t explained that it’s bad, then would that child not believe that this action is perfectly fine? Seeing the father only do this when he’s angry, the child could perceive that beating somebody is an output of anger for them as well. Social development includes the evolution of knowledge of how people interact, play, share, take turns, or talk socially.

From an early stage if the child sees fighting, it is then safe to assume that their ‘evolution of knowledge based on how people interact’ will be evolving off of the witnessed negative action seen in the first place (spousal abuse, swearing parents, etc. ). A child’s development could be positive or negative based solely on the overall environment the child is living in. One may be lead to believe that aggression is taught by others, and then mirrored by the children whom the aggression will eventually attach itself too. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory argues that ‘development’ is influenced by five environmental systems.

The theory identifies five environmental systems. The five environmental systems are: Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exosystem, Macrosystem, and Chronosystem. The microsystem is the child’s immediate surroundings i. e. family, neighborhood and friends. This theory suggests that if the child lives in a damaged microsystem, the child’s development could also be damaged. The mesosystem is the connection seen between immediate environments i. e. parents to peers. This directly relates to the topic showing that if a child witness’s abuse, there’s a good chance they will mirror it with their peers. Children need people in order to become human…. It is primarily through observing, playing, and working with others both older and younger than he that a child discovers both what he can do and who he can become. ”-Urie Bronfenbrenner (quotes. dictionary. com). This quote can be fitted to the topic of aggression in children because she basically explains that without other humans, we would have no route for our personality/identity to take. The Macrosystem describes the culture of the child, anywhere from physical geographic, to wealth in the child’s area.

Urie suggests that those that are living in lower class are more likely to commit crime. It must also be understood that children influenced by their environment is not conclusive. As children in some African regions see violence every day but learned to adapt with it as opposed to keeping it bottled up in their head. The final system is the Chronosystem. This monitors patterns of environmental events over time. Non-normative events may have a negative psychological effect, e. g. a recent divorce or death in the family. The change is too drastic for the child to cope with.

With witnessed aggression, as it starts to become the normal in the child’s life, the child may seek to emulate it later on when the ‘normal’ aggression is missing. Urie Bronfenbenners theory does weigh in favor of the child learning the aggression because it all seems to tie into the child feeling a sense of normal. Based on the theory, children will emulate what they see, because if they didn’t emulate anything, they would have no guidance in their life. Their identity would be 100% their own. Therefore if aggression is their guide, aggression will be what children emulate.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 13 October 2016

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