A recent study reports that the developmental association between physical aggression in toddlers and the frustration caused by language problems may be influenced by parental behavior.
The study found that frequent hitting, kicking and a tendency to bite or push others are examples of physical aggression observed in toddlers.
The team of researchers used a longitudinal study of 2,057 French- and English-speaking Quebec children recruited from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD), conducted by GRIP in association with Quebec's Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Quebec Institute of Statistics. Parents were asked to evaluate the frequency of physical aggressions and the language abilities of their children at 17, 29, 41, 60, and 72 months. The parents' behaviors, punitive and affectionate behavior, were also assessed.
The results of the research show an association between the frequency of physical aggressions and the quality of language development between 17 and 41 months. In fact, children who had low language skills at 17 months committed more acts of physical aggression at 29 months and the frequency of this aggressive behavior at 29 months was associated with lower language skills at 41 months.
However, according to the researchers, this association was quite low, and the fact that it disappeared at 41 months could be explained by the fact that the 17-to-41-month period was marked by a significant development of language abilities and a high frequency of physical aggression.
Richard E. Tremblay, a professor in the Departments of Psychology and Pediatrics at the Universite de Montreal, said that humans use physical aggression most often between 17 and 41 months and after this period, the vast majority of children have learned to use other means besides physical aggression to get what they want, which reduces the likelihood of an association between aggression and language delays in a representative population sample.
The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE.