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You Did That on Purpose

You Did That on Purpose: Understanding and Changing Children's Aggression

Cynthia Hudley
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    You Did That on Purpose
    Book Description:

    Some children are prone to a particular kind of aggression when they are with their peers. For these children, any harm done to them-even something as inconsequential as a jostle in the lunch line-is perceived as intentional. Their style of social information processing, termed "hostile attributional bias," increases the likelihood of retaliating with excessive and inappropriate physical aggression. In this valuable book, parents and professionals who work with children will learn what can be done to better understand and control children's aggression.

    Beginning with a reader-friendly review of the literature, Cynthia Hudley underscores the substantial risks of long-term problems for elementary-school-age children who demonstrate aggressive behavior. Then, drawing on her work as founder of a successful school intervention program, the BrainPower Program, Hudley describes methods for reducing children's peer-directed aggression. She concludes with a discussion of the importance of broad social contexts in supporting nonaggressive behavior.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15175-6
    Subjects: Psychology, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 A Look at Children’s Aggression
    (pp. 1-21)

    Imagine that you are a fifth grader. You arrive at school in the morning, set your book bag on a bench, and run to the playground. You go back to the bench just a few minutes later. Your bag is lying under the bench in an inch of water. How did your bag end up on the ground? What are you going to do?

    Meet Don, a fifth grader attending school in a working-class neighborhood, who described just such a situation to me. In a long, comfortable interview one day after school, Don told me about life on the school...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Understanding Intent: One Source of Childhood Aggression
    (pp. 22-35)

    Think for a moment of a typical elementary school playground, where children routinely spend time waiting in line to eat, to take a turn in a game, and to engage in any number of other activities. If one of those children is bumped hard from behind by a peer while standing in line, what do you think will happen next? The child who has been bumped has a range of possible responses, some aggressive, some not. In this chapter I want to describe how children’s thinking about the world around them has been linked with an increased inclination to use...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The BrainPower Program: A Strategy for Changing Attributions
    (pp. 36-53)

    Before 1990, the research literature on child development was virtually silent on the application of our understanding of children’s thinking patterns to the development of intervention programs to reduce children’s aggression. However, in tandem with our growing understanding of children’s thinking came the heightened awareness that childhood aggression is not just a short-term nuisance to teachers and parents that children ‘‘grow out of.’’ Highly aggressive children, both boys and girls, of all classes and ethnicities are potentially at risk for a range of negative lifetime consequences, including youth violence. Thus, an accumulation of research evidence, together with a rapidly escalating...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Research on the BrainPower Program: How Effective Is It?
    (pp. 54-82)

    The ultimate test of any program intended to improve children’s lives is how well the program produces positive outcomes or prevents negative outcomes. While a clear theoretical model and a strong research base may be an important foundation for high-quality intervention programs, ‘‘the proof is in the pudding,’’ as the saying goes. So it is probably no surprise that after developing the BrainPower curriculum, I spent the next eight years examining the ability of the program to improve children’s behavior. I have examined the program in both a school-based and an after-school context. This chapter presents the results of three...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Looking Beyond the Individual Child: What Schools Can Do
    (pp. 83-103)

    As effective as the BrainPower Program may be, the intervention is directed at only one of the many factors that shape children’s aggression. An intervention that takes only the individual child as its focus is often not powerful enough to maintain changes in behavior over the long term and across several different settings, as we have seen. Without minimizing the importance of individual action, we must also recognize that the social situations in which the child lives, learns, plays, and encounters other people can make a powerful contribution to aggressive behavior. Influences as diverse as neighborhood crime and violence; harsh,...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Childhood Aggression in the Family and the Community
    (pp. 104-128)

    Most of us would agree that the family has the primary responsibility for teaching children to be appropriate in their social behavior. Not surprisingly, there has been a great deal of interest in the characteristics of families that seem to predict whether children are aggressive. As a result, we now have a reasonably clear picture of how children’s aggression can be influenced by a number of family characteristics, including family relations and environmental circumstances. A child’s behavior is influenced by both individual and environmental factors, and a family’s impact on the child’s behavior results from a combination of individual and...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Public Policy for Children’s Well-Being
    (pp. 129-152)

    As we have seen, the development of aggression in childhood is influenced by a range of factors including an individual child’s perceptions of the world; the child’s family circumstances; the child’s school; and the larger community, society, and culture in which the child is positioned. The BrainPower Program has shown that children’s perceptions can be changed and that changing the perceptions of aggressive children can lead to improvements in their behavior. However, as effective as the program might be, children’s aggression is much more than an individual behavioral problem. Therefore, I have also discussed strategies and programs for families, schools,...

  11. References
    (pp. 153-172)
  12. Index
    (pp. 173-180)