Aggression Across Early Childhood in the Context of Developmental Competencies

Open Access
Author:
Thibodeaux-Lyles, Harmony
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 18, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Karen Linn Bierman, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • prosocial behavior
  • development
  • childhood
  • aggression
  • attentional control skills
Abstract:
Persistent aggressive behavior during the elementary school years has been identified as a risk factor for both current and future social and academic success. This study examined developmental associations between emergent literacy, attentional control, and social competence skills across the pre-kindergarten year and relative contributions to aggression control. Three-hundred-fifty-six Head Start students were followed through first grade. Regression analyses revealed that preschool competencies contributed to aggression control in elementary school, specifically initial levels of attentional control and prosocial skills as well as acquisition of prosocial skills across the preschool year. Trajectories of aggressive behavior from preschool to elementary school were also identified along with competencies associated with trajectories. Maintenance of attentional control deficits predicted persistent aggressive behavior, while attentional control gains led to declines in aggression. Implications for preschool programs are discussed.