The bully in your child’s kindergarten class may have more than just an attitude problem; a new study says that unaddressed psychological and verbal issues may be the cause of pent-up frustrations.

According to, researchers from Pennsylvania State University gathered data from 10 different schools and recruited 207 high-risk children and 132 low-risk children to undergo neurobiological tests in order to understand the difference of managing emotions between aggressive and passive children.

Results showed that almost 90 percent of aggressive children were either “low in verbal ability” or “more easily psychologically aroused.” Those who were low in verbal ability easily got frustrated by their inability to communicate their needs through words, resulting in them doing hurtful things that easily merit responses from others. Those who were more psychologically aroused appeared to be normal until provoked--it is then that they act on impulse and based on pure instinct.

Researcher Mark Greenberg adds, "This group of kids may be functioning at a cognitive level that is more akin to a preschooler than a kindergartner. They have a harder time extracting what other people are feeling. They don't have a nuanced sense of emotions; everything is either happy or sad to them. So they might not be as good at recognizing how their behavior is making another child feel. They may literally have a hard time 'using their words,' so hitting becomes an easier solution when they are frustrated."

If you think your child is at risk for aggressive behavior, encourage him to specifically air out his frustrations and maintain open communication lines with him at all times. At the same time, regularly consult with his teachers and with a child psychologist to keep track of his academic progress as well as improvements in his behavior.

(Photo by Rolands Lakis via Flickr Creative Commons)

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