Aggression in toddlers: Associations with temper loss and parent-child conflict

Tamara Del Vecchio, Michael F. Lorber, Kätlin Peets, Brooke Edelman, Amy M.S. Slep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a normative US sample of 477 mothers of 6- to 24- month-old children, we explored the relations among toddlers’ physical aggression, child temper loss, and parent-child conflict to gain a better understanding of how aggression develops from infancy to toddlerhood. An inventory of specific aggressive acts was subject to factor analysis to test whether the acts clustered as hypothesized. Consistent with our hypothesis, confirmatory factor analyses supported the distinction between the two types of aggression, directed and exploratory physical aggression. Although the two types were correlated, they showed differential associations with temper loss and parent-child conflict consistent with theory. Directed aggression had a relatively stronger relation with child defiance and temper loss than did exploratory aggression. Moreover, the association between directed aggression and defiance was stronger for older children. The findings from this cross-sectional study provide preliminary support for two forms of early aggression that may differ in trajectory and context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1394-1408
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • aggression
  • defiance
  • discipline
  • parenting
  • temper loss
  • toddlerhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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