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The boys aged six and four, were arguing over a truck. A caregiver intervened in the argument and decided to settle it by asking the boys to name a number between 1 and 10. The boy who got closest to the number she had in mind would get the truck. (Her intervention was developmentally inappropriate.) The 4-year-old could not understand the task she posed. The older child retaliated by threatening to take the younger boy off a birthday party list, an act of hostile aggression. Hostile aggression is any act intended to hurt or harm another.

  1. How did the action (intervention) of the adult affect the disagreement over the truck?
  2. Was the intervention appropriate? Why or why not?
  3. How might you have helped the boys solve the situation by themselves?
  4. If your goal is for children to learn to settle disagreements by themselves, what might you have done during this episode?
  5. What are the developmental differences between these 2 boys?
  6. What are some clues that C.J. did not understand the adult's solution?
  7. How would you classify the older boy's threat to take C.J. off his birthday party list?
  8. What are the characteristics of hostile and instrumental aggression? How do they differ? At what ages are they most common?
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