Why Do Children Become Aggressive?

Why do children become aggressive? They learn to be. Therefore, it's important that we care for the environment they grow up in, and what they see.
Why Do Children Become Aggressive?

Last update: 22 October, 2020

Sometimes children become aggressive, but why? Many parents ask themselves why their children are so aggressive, but perhaps the answer is closer than they think. Violence in some children is becoming more and more frequent and it’s important to ask yourself why.

Children may be aggressive toward their parents, siblings, classmates, etc. Before saying that a child is aggressive and responsible for his or her behavior, it’s important to understand the reasons why a child may become aggressive in the first place.

This way, we can help you stop those behaviors. If we know why children become aggressive, it’ll be easier to prevent them from developing aggression.

Why do children become aggressive?

No child is born aggressive. Rather, this is a learned behavior. The good news is that, just as they can learn to be aggressive, they can also unlearn these behaviors. There are different reasons why children can become violent, and there are factors that make some children more violent than others.

Why Do Children Become Aggressive?
  • Poverty.
  • Watching violence on television.
  • Playing violent video games.
  • Having violent, aggressive adults around them.
  • Mistreatment at home, even if they’re just an observer.

Reasons why children become aggressive

Behaviors such as hitting, teasing, or using words to hurt others are behaviors that display childhood aggression. When children persist in them, they can cause suffering in others and end up suffering from peer rejection.

Many experts agree that frustration facilitates violence and can be a trigger for aggressive behavior in young children. It’s normal for a child to behave aggressively at any given time. However, the problem arises when he or she doesn’t know how to control that aggression.

Children need to hear their parents say things like “calm down” or “don’t do that.” They need control from their parents. Just as parents teach them how to talk, walk, or eat, they also need to be taught how to control their violent behavior. Some factors that encourage aggressive behavior can be the following:

The environment in which they’re raised

The environment in which a child grows up and develops is very important.

If their group of friends engages in violent behavior, the child will eventually repeat it in order to be accepted in the group. You must be very careful and control these aspects to avoid such aggression.

Television or video games

We live in a time where technology surrounds us constantly, and it has a great influence on children. Therefore, it’s very important that parents control what they see or what their children play.

Younger children are unable to differentiate reality from fantasy. Therefore, if they see violence on TV, they may try to imitate it. For example, in a movie where the “good guys” turn bad to get what they want, children, following this premise, can use violence to get what they want.

How do you prevent children from becoming aggressive?

Many times, we don’t exactly know why a child has become aggressive. Just the same, we can encourage some strengths that help to prevent little ones from becoming violent. For example:

  • Spending time with family and friends who love and value them.
  • Establishing rules and disciplines that help them know what they can and cannot do.
  • Setting an example as parents.
  • Teaching children to self-regulate.
  • Encouraging a sense of belonging to a group.
  • Emotional education, empathy and assertiveness.
  • Tolerance.
  • Bonding with their parents.
  • Awareness.
  • Respect for oneself and others.
Why Do Children Become Aggressive?

How to control aggressive behavior in children?

How can we, as parents, control the aggressive behaviors our children have?

Not returning their aggressiveness with more aggressiveness

Aggressive behaviors, like any other behavior, can be learned by imitation or observation of parents. For this reason, it’s very important that we not respond to their violent behaviors with more violence.

Set an example, as they’ll relate to others just as they do to their parents

If children have a calm relationship with their parents, they’ll relate to their friends or peers in the same way. On the other hand, if the relationship with their parents is based on violence, this will be their way of interacting with others.

Maintaining balance and consensus among parents

Another important thing to keep in mind is that parents must agree on how to educate their children, so as not to give them contradictory messages. One of the parents can’t allow everything and the other one nothing. This, in the end, will confuse children and they’ll end up rebelling with aggressive behavior.

In short, children become aggressive for different reasons and there are several factors that influence the intensity of this aggressiveness. It’s important that, if our children have aggressive behaviors, we stop to analyze what’s going on and find a solution.

Parents are role models and guides, and they need us to know what’s right and what’s wrong. Remember that children aren’t born aggressive, rather, they become aggressive.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bernal, L. V. L. (2010). Agresividad en niños y niñas, una mirada desde la psicología dinámica. Revista Virtual Universidad Católica del Norte, 1(31), 274-293. https://revistavirtual.ucn.edu.co/index.php/RevistaUCN/article/view/45/99
  • Velázquez, H. A., Cabrera, F. P., Morales Chaine, S., Caso-López, A. C., & Torres, N. B. (2002). Factores de riesgo, factores protectores y generalización del comportamiento agresivo en una muestra de niños en edad escolar. Salud mental, 25(3), 27-40.
  • Zárate, L. O., & Luna, E. R. (1999). Comportamiento agresivo en niños preescolares. Enseñanza e Investigación en Psicología, 4(2), 327-339.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.