childhood aggression, aggression, adolescence, parenting


Where do children get their basic tendencies to act aggressively? One possibility is that it varies by the type of parenting received, particularly for young children, who tend to spend more time with their parents than do older children and adolescents. This chapter considers the expanse of research focusing on parenting as it corresponds with relationally aggressive tendencies in children, adolescents, or emerging adults (including similar constructs labeled as indirect or social aggression). Relational aggression subsumes indirect, covert, hostile behaviors where target children are not directly confronted (e.g., gossiping, talking behind one's back; see Chapter 2). It can also be direct and overt (e.g., telling another child, "I won't be your friend unless you doo things my way"). Physical aggression (alternatively labeled as overt nor direct aggression) serves as a point of contrast with relational aggression. Sufficient research has now accumulated to support recent meta-analytic reviews that show that parenting is consistently, yet modestly, associated with children's relational aggression (e.g., Kawabata, Alink, Tseng, van IJzendoorn, & Crick, 2011; Kuppens, Laurent, Heyvart, & Onghena, 2013). In considering the existing research in this chapter, we examine the data as they correspond with a number of important theoretical perspectives linking parenting and relational aggression. We provide our own commentary on the state of research.

Original Publication Citation

Nelson, D. A., & Hart, C. H. (2018). Parenting and relational aggression. In S. M. Coyne & J. M. Ostrov (Eds.), The development of relational aggression (pp. 188-202). Oxford University Press.

Document Type

Book Chapter

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Permanent URL


Oxford University Press USA




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor