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Peer Rejection And Aggression

“The combination of being rejected by peers and being aggressive especially forecasts problems.(Bukowski, 2012)

According to one study, third-grade boys who were aggressive and rejected by their peers had significantly higher levels of delinquency as adolescents and young adults than other boys. There are three reasons why aggressive peer-rejected boys struggle in social relationships:


The rejected, aggressive boys are more impulsive and have problems sustaining attention. As a result, they are more likely to be disruptive of ongoing activities in the classroom and in focused group play.


The rejected, aggressive boys are more emotionally reactive. They are aroused to anger more easily and probably have more difficulty calming down once aroused. Because of this they are more prone to become angry at peers and to attack them verbally and physically.


The rejected children have fewer social skills for making friends and maintaining positive relationships with peers.

(John Coie, 2004; Miller-Johnson, Coie, & Malone, 2003).

What are the antecedents of peer rejection?

        Poor parenting skills, according to researchers, are at the root of children being rejected by their peers. These researchers argue, in particular, that inadequate monitoring and harsh punishment, which can be exacerbated by a child's difficult temperament, can result in a child with aggressive, antisocial tendencies. The child carries these tendencies into the world of peers, where he or she is rejected by better-adjusted peers who have a more positive temperament and have had more positive parenting.

(Patterson, DeBaryshe, & Ramsey, 1989; Patterson, Forgatch, & DeGarmo, 2010; Patterson, Reid, & Dishion, 1992; Shaw & others, 2006),


How can rejected children be trained to interact more effectively with their peers?

Rejected children may be taught to assess the intentions of their peers more accurately. They may be asked to role play or discuss hypothetical situations involving negative interactions with peers, such as when a peer cuts into a line ahead of them. Some programs show children videotapes of appropriate peer interaction and ask them to draw lessons from what they see.

(Ladd, Buhs, & Troop, 2004)

Despite the positive outcomes of some programs aimed at improving adolescents' social skills, researchers have frequently discovered that it is difficult to improve the social skills of adolescents who are actively disliked and rejected. Many of these teenagers are rejected because they are aggressive or impulsive and lack the self-control to control their behavior. 

(Ladd, Kochendorfer-Ladd, & Rydell, 2011)

Social-skills training programs for children 10 years old or younger have generally been more successful than programs for adolescents. As cliques and peer groups become more visible in adolescence, peer reputations become more fixed. When an adolescent develops a negative reputation among peers as "mean," "weird," or a "loner," the peer group's attitude is often slow to change, even after the adolescent's problem behavior is corrected. As a result, researchers believe that skill interventions should be supplemented by efforts to change the minds of peers.

(Malik & Furman, 1993)

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