The development of aggression in 18 to 48 month old children of alcoholic parents

Ellen P. Edwards, Rina D. Eiden, Craig Colder, Kenneth E. Leonard

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37 Scopus citations


This study examined the development of aggressive and oppositional behavior among alcoholic and nonalcoholic families using latent growth modeling. The sample consisted of 226 families assessed at 18, 24, 36, and 48 months of child age. Results indicated that children in families with nonalcoholic parents had the lowest levels of aggressive behavior at all time points compared to children with one or more alcoholic parents. Children in families with two alcoholic parents did not exhibit normative decreases in aggressive behavior from 3 to 4 years of age compared to nonalcoholic families. However, this association was no longer significant once a cumulative family risk score was added to the model. Children in families with high cumulative risk scores, reflective of high parental depression, antisocial behavior, negative affect during play, difficult child temperament, marital conflict, fathers' education, and hours spent in child care, had higher levels of aggression at 18 months than children in low risk families. These associations were moderated by child gender. Boys had higher levels of aggressive behavior at all ages than girls, regardless of group status. Cumulative risk was predictive of higher levels of initial aggressive behavior in both girls and boys. However, boys with two alcoholic parents had significantly less of a decline in aggression from 36 to 48 months compared to boys in the nonalcoholic group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-423
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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