Background: Does poor language ability in early childhood increase the likelihood of physical aggression or is language ability delayed by frequent physical aggression? This study examined the longitudinal associations between physical aggression and language ability from toddlerhood to early childhood in a population sample while controlling for parenting behaviours, non-verbal intellectual functioning, and children's sex. Methods: Children enrolled in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD) (N=2, 057) were assessed longitudinally from 17 to 72 months via parent reports and standardized assessments. Results: The cross-lagged models revealed modest reciprocal associations between physical aggression and language performance from 17 to 41 months but not thereafter. Conclusions: Significant associations between physical aggression and poor language ability are minimal and limited to the period when physical aggression and language performance are both substantially increasing. During that period parenting behaviours may play an important role in supporting language ability while reducing the frequency of physical aggression. Further studies are needed that utilize multiple assessments of physical aggression, assess multiple domains of language abilities, and that examine the potential mediating role of parenting behaviours between 12 and 48 months.
Girard, L. C., Pingault, J. B., Falissard, B., Boivin, M., Dionne, G., & Tremblay, R. E. (2014). Physical aggression and language ability from 17 to 72 months: Cross-lagged effects in a population sample. PLoS ONE, 9(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0112185