One of my main lines of research examines the link between anxiety and aggression in children and adolescents. I’ve been writing a lot about this rarely explored link. Here’s an abstract of a recent review paper I’m submitting. In the next few months, I’d like to post a bunch of research findings that provide at least extant evidence for this model. Here’s a start:
The majority of aggressive children exhibit symptoms of anxiety, yet none of our developmental models of aggression incorporate the role of anxiety and our treatments ignore this comorbidity. I am currently outlining a novel theoretical model that specifies four hypotheses about comorbid anxious and aggressive children: (1) unpredictable parenting induces anxiety in children which, in turn, triggers aggressive behavior; (2) prolonged periods of anxiety deplete children’s capacity to inhibit impulses and trigger bouts of aggression; aggression, in turn, functions to regulate levels of anxiety; (3) minor daily stressors give rise to anxiety while cognitive perseveration maintains anxious moods, increasingly disposing children to aggress; and (4) to improve the efficacy of treatments for childhood aggression, anxiety needs to be the primary target of treatment. Almost no research has directly tested these hypotheses. The review I am writing summarizes the extant research and theory consistent with these claims and suggests future research designs that can test them specifically.