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date: 02 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The majority of aggressive children exhibit symptoms of anxiety. This chapter outlines a novel theoretical model that builds explicitly on coercion theory, linking aggression with the regulation of anxiety in both caregivers and children. Three hypotheses are suggested and data are applied to support this model: (1) unpredictable oscillations between permissive and hostile parenting (two distinct aspects of the coercive cycle) induces anxiety in children, which in turn triggers aggressive behavior; (2) peer relations and difficult school contexts exacerbate anxiety, which in turn may trigger bouts of aggression that function as regulation for distressing emotions; and (3) to improve the efficacy of treatments for childhood aggression, anxiety needs to be one of the primary targets of treatment. Almost no research has directly tested these hypotheses, but the chapter reviews extant research and theory consistent with these claims and suggests future research designs that can test them specifically.

Keywords: aggression, anxiety, treatment, comorbidity, children, hostile parenting, permissive parenting

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