Early Childhood Origins of Violent Behaviour by Richard Tremblay

Some lessons and conclusions:

  • 1- “Humans do not learn to physically aggress, from their environment they learn alternatives to physical aggression.” – What does this mean to what I call “the art of parenting”? I think that this conclusion implies that, first of all, parents (this term includes teachers, guardians, and adults who care for children) must accept children’s early displays of violence/aggression as relatively normal. This is because this is part of their development and of their process of understanding and interacting with their world. It could even be argued that it is healthy for them to express what we can easily tag as “antisocial behaviour”. It is therefore a mistake to rapidly judge them, reject them, and even ostracize and segregate them. Our role as parents then becomes that of educators, educating through instruction and through example. Being the example as parents is probably the most important form of education to children, as they will copy and repeat even the subtlest aspects of our behaviour, things such as voice tonality and others that even ourselves aren’t completely aware of. So, can we ask: how can I be a peaceful example for my child(ren)? What alternatives to aggression can I teach them? Am I representing this alternative?


  • 2- “Environmental effects on development of physical aggression, like genetic effects are strongly intergenerational, and highly linked to maternal development. If this is true, prevention of chronic physical aggression, should probably start at conception, at the latest. And I say that in the sense that I have been talking about males, having these problem behaviours, but at the same time talking about mothers having problems and having males who are on that physical aggression trajectory. And I think that we focus too much on the males, and we need to help the girls get their act together, so that they will, when they become pregnant, take better care of themselves. And, the better care they will give to themselves will have an impact on the development of both their daughters and their sons.”


  • 3- Early intervention to prevent chronic physical aggression and delinquency is more effective and interestingly less expensive than interventions at adolescence and later, which not only cost more, but often, according to research findings, have the opposite desired effect.


  • 4-“The best predictor of success in school in children, from all the studies, is their mother’s education”*


  • “Unless you give infants everything they want, they cry and get angry, they even beat their own parents, and nature prompts them to do so. But they are not to blame, and are not evil, first, because they cannot do any harm, and then because, not having the use of reason, they are totally exempt from duties. If they continue to do the same things when they grown up and have acquired the strength to do harm, then they begin to be evil and to be called so. Thus an evil man is rather like a sturdy boy, or a man of childish mind, and evil is simply want of reason at an age when it normally accrues to men by nature governed by discipline and experience of harm. Unless then we say that men were made evil by nature simply because they do not have discipline and the use of reason from nature, it must be admitted that they can  have greed, fear, anger and all the other animal passions from nature, but still not be made evil by nature” – Hobbes

  • “It is always easier to forget good habits than to forget good ones” – Erasmus


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