Families, Parenting and Aggressive Preschoolers: A Scoping Review of Studies Examining Family Variables Related to Preschool Aggression

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Nov 23;19(23):15556. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192315556.


Background: A growing body of research has shown that children behave aggressively from an early age. In recent decades, such behaviour has become a focus of scientific interest, not only because of the adverse consequences of these interactions, but also because high levels of aggression, especially at an early age, may be a risk factor for the use of other forms of aggression, such as bullying, later on during their development. These behaviours are related not only to individual characteristics, but also to peer relationships, teacher behaviours, school variables, family factors and cultural influences.

Method: In order to find out which family variables have been researched in relation to preschool aggression and which family variables are associated with perpetration and victimisation, a scoping review was conducted in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines. Four databases (Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed and PsycINFO) were used to map the studies published between 2000 and 2022.

Results: This scoping review included 39 peer-reviewed articles from an initial sample of 2002 of them. The majority of studies looked only at perpetration behaviours. The main family variables covered in the articles concern parental behaviours, adverse childhood experiences in the family environment, and the household structural and sociodemographic characteristics.

Conclusion: This scoping review shows that different factors within the family environment increase the risk of developing aggressive and victimising behaviours in the preschool setting. However, the relationship between the family variables and preschool aggression is complex, and it may be mediated by other factors such as gender, child-teacher closeness or parent-child dyads.

Keywords: aggression; bullying; childhood; family; parenting; preschool aggression; scoping review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression
  • Bullying*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crime Victims*
  • Humans
  • Parenting
  • Schools

Grants and funding

This research was developed in the framework of the research project which was subsidised by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation: “Violent behaviors and bullying during early childhood: prevention and interventions keys from school and family education” (PID2020-119268RB-I00).