The term aggression is used to describe angry and hostile acting-out behaviors. While definitions of the term differ somewhat, in the 2012 edition of Challenging Behavior in Young Children, Barbara Kaiser and Judy Sklar Rasminsky define aggression as “behavior that is aimed at harming or injuring others.” The authors state, “Challenging behavior isn’t always aggressive . . . but aggressive behavior is always challenging” (p. 13). This entry discusses reasons why young children show aggression, forms and patterns of aggression in young children, and consequences of the use of aggression for children’s development.

As children grow through the preschool years, increasing communication skills and social awareness reduce the need to use aggression during conflicts (expressed disagreements). Young children find the growing ability to put thoughts ...

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