Relational aggression is not typical bullying by being either physical or verbal in nature, but a more subtle form of aggression that uses relationships to damage or manipulate others. Both boys and girls, can and do, participate in this form of aggressive behavior. Girls are more likely to express aggression in a relational sense. Boys have more of a tendency to use physical or verbal aggression. However, both boys and girls can also engage in all types of bulling and aggression.
- Purposefully ignore or exclude others
- Spread rumors or gossip
- Tell peers not to associate with another as a means of retaliation
Aggressors can be observed to have a shift in their behaviors as well. If you notice that long time friends are no longer part of their lives and may be replaced by others get a conversation going with them. Sometimes these children are led to aggressive behavior by "new" friends. Belonging and fitting in can lead to behaviors that they would not otherwise engage in. These children need adult guidance with understanding. Role playing can be very effective in getting the child to see both sides and plan strategies for how they would like to change.
Being an active participant in the child's life can make all the difference in preventing and dealing with aggression issues or bullying. Children who feel welcome in communicating with the adults in their lives without fear of judgement will develop the skills they need to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.