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The Interactive Effects of Mothers' Reactions and Children's Temperament on 3- to 6-Year-Olds' Aggression

  • Received : 2013.07.08
  • Accepted : 2013.08.18
  • Published : 2013.08.30

Abstract

The present study investigated the direct and interactive effects of children's temperament and mothers' reactions to hypothetical vignettes of children's aggression on 3- to 6-year-old children's overt aggression (OA) and relational aggression (RA). A total of 317 mothers of 3- to 6-year-old children and 26 teachers from eight day-care centers and kindergartens were contacted. Each mother reported her child's background, assessed her child's temperament and responded to the Mothers' Reaction to Hypothetical Vignettes of Children's Aggression (MRCA) scale. Children's OA and RA were assessed by teachers. Results showed that high levels of children's surgency predicted children's OA and RA. Although mothers' reactions did not predict children's OA and RA directly, significant interactions indicated that mothers' restrictive reactions were more strongly related to children's OA for children with high levels of surgency and low levels of effortful control. In addition, mothers' responsive reactions were more strongly related to children's OA for children with low levels of surgency. This study demonstrates that relative contributions of children's temperament and mothers' reactions differ according to the form of children's aggression. It also shows that certain types and levels of mothers' reactions to children's aggressive behavior can be critical for children with certain types and levels of temperament in developing children's overt aggression. The findings of this study can be applied to building early prevention and future intervention programs for young children's aggression.

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