Psychological Self-Help

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34
Sorry for making things complicated but you need to prepare for a
complex world. The good news is that there is overwhelming evidence that
humans can, in the right circumstances and with appropriate training, be
kinder and gentler by using their higher cognition. But, thus far, we seem to
be loosing the battle against violence, as we will see in the next topic. 
Aggression and child rearing practices
By the time we are five years of age, we have learned to be kind and
caring or aggressive. What is associated with an angry, aggressive child? Four
factors are: (1) a child with a hyperactive, impulsive temperament, (2) a
parent who has negative, critical attitudes towards the child, (3) a parent who
provides poor supervision and permits the child to use aggression as a means
of gaining power, and (4) a parent who uses power-tactics (punishment,
threats, and violent or loud outbursts) to get their way (Olweus, 1980). Once
a peaceful or hostile way of responding is established (by 5) it tends to
remain stable. Olweus (1979) suggests aggressiveness is about as stable as
intelligence. 
So, the best way to predict that a young adult will behave aggressively is
to observe his/her early behavior. Aggression at age 8 correlates .46 with
aggression at age 30! Children who were "pro-social," i.e. popular and avoid
aggression, at age 8 were, 22 years later, doing well in school and at work,
had good mental health, and were successful socially (Eron, 1987). Children
who steal, aggress, use drugs, and have conduct problems with peers, family
or in school, and then conceal the problems by lying, are the most likely to
become delinquent (Loeber, 1990). Of course, many such children become
good citizens, so don't give up. But society, schools, parents, and the children
could prevent much of the later aggression if they made the effort to detect
the problems early and offered help. It is crucial that we all learn "pro-social"
(nice) behavior, starting early in life. Caution: Physical punishment may
teach that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.
Aggressive children often come from aggressive homes, in which not only
are their parents and others within the family physical with each other but
even the child's own aggressiveness has been harshly punished (Patterson,
1976; Byrne & Kelley, 1981). Research has documented similar aggression
spreads from grandparents to parents to grandchildren. In addition, outside
the family we learn more hostile ways of responding to frustration, such as in
schools, on the play grounds, from friends, and especially from TV, movies
and books. It has been demonstrated that we can learn to be aggressive by
merely viewing a short film that shows aggressiveness as an acceptable
response (Bandura, 1973). So, one doesn't have to have hostile parents or be
subjected to noticeable frustration prior to becoming aggressive. One can just
see aggression and then imitate it. That's why TV is so scary. 
The impact of TV has been studied extensively; it makes us more
aggressive (Geen, 1978; Singer & Singer, 1981). This isn't surprising
considering the average child of 15 has seen about 15,000 humans violently
destroyed on TV. Even though the bad guy (like the aggressive child) is often
beaten up by the good guy (the parent), the implication is that aggression is
acceptable if it's for a good cause (Derlega and Janda, 1981). So, we are all
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