Predictors of relational aggression among sisters
Stauffacher Gros, Kirstin
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Relational aggression is associated with a wide range of negative sequelae, including a wide range of mental health symptomatology and peer problems, suggesting that understanding the factors contributing to the use of relational aggression could have wide reaching impact for children's functioning. Although some prior research suggests that factors associated with parenting, parental modeling of aggression, parental discipline of aggression, and child temperament are associated with children's use of relational aggression with peers, these results are inconsistent. Further, little is known about how these factors contribute to relational or physical aggression in siblings. The current project addresses these needs by employing a mixed methods analyses approach to observations of child behavior and parental reports of parenting, parental modeling, discipline of aggression, and their children's temperaments. Specifically, fourteen kindergarten girls ( M = 5.83 years, SD = 8.26) with younger sisters ( M = 3.76 years, SD = 12.34) were videotaped in a 20-minute home-based free-play task that was later coded for relational and physical aggression and contextual features of the aggression. The qualitative analyses provide preliminary evidence that sisters' relational aggression may occur in relation to parental consistency and monitoring. However, parental discipline of aggression, modeling of aggression and victimization, positive parenting, and parental involvement were not found to be associated with relational or physical aggression. Further, results suggest that sisters' sociability was germane to relational and physical aggression in the sibling context. Sisters' impulsivity was related to aggression in some contexts, but activity level and emotionality were not associated with the sisters' use of either form of aggression. Although quantitative analyses were limited by reduced power, effect sizes were small for each of the parenting and temperament predictors of aggression. Limitation and implications for future research are discussed.