Relational aggression-withholding friendship as a weapon-is seen in children as young as 2½

Children, especially girls, who are still in kindergarten or even younger form cliques and withhold friendship as a weapon. New programs aim to teach empathy.

Special programs are popping up in elementary schools to teach empathy as a means of stemming relational aggression, a psychological term to describe using the threat of removing friendship as a tactical weapon.

Children also are being guided in ways to stand up for themselves, and to help others, in instances of social exclusion. Though both boys and girls exhibit relational aggression, it is thought to be more common among girls because they are generally more socially developed and verbal than boys.

 by Sumathi Reddy 


she engages in role playing with the children

to teach them both empathy and how

to stand up for themselves.