What is the Term Relational Aggression?

The term relational aggression pertains to a terrible form of bullying that often goes unnoticed. Students with relational aggression tend to bully, control, and manipulate others without drawing the attention of adults such as parents, teachers, and those in authority positions. A few students are so good at this kind of bullying that no one would ever accuse them of injuring others.

According to research conducted with North American pre-adolescents and adolescents, adolescent girls are more relationally aggressive than their male counterparts. The “mean girl” issue may be associated with relational aggressiveness or emotional bullying, but these harmful actions do not only affect women.

Symptoms of Aggression in a Relationship

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Relational aggressiveness is characterized by a wide range of methods, but there are a few frequent behaviors to look out for:

  • Backstabbing.
  • Harassment of another person via the internet, often known as cyberbullying or cybershaming.
  • Anyone who wishes to join the social group must follow a set of rules.
  • Making them feel like outsiders and excluding them.
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  • Creating groups of friends.
  • Creating a hostile environment for others.
  • Using social media, cell phones, workstations, and lockers to post cruel or mean messages.
  • Making light of other people’s appearance or their manner of life.
  • Spreading false rumors or indulging in rumors.
  • Peer pressure is used to encourage others to engage in bullying.

What Causes It

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Relational aggressiveness is one of the most common reasons tween and teen kids participate in this type of behavior. Emotional bullying can be used to further the victim’s social isolation. In addition to jealousy and the need for attention, there may be a fear of losing one’s position in the group as a result of this behavior.


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Teasing or disseminating damaging information is a favorite pastime of bullies. To keep their lives interesting, tweens and teens spread rumors, divulge secrets, and stir up trouble.

Because they know something others don’t, these teenagers appreciate the attention they receive. And they like being able to bring down their competition with a juicy story that ruins another person’s reputation.

Peer Pressure

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To fit in with a group or be accepted, some kids will sacrifice their morals or convictions in order to do so. They might spread rumors or gossip to feel like part of the group or become more popular.

To be accepted by their classmates, tweens and teens may participate in group bullying or ostracise another individual. Many times, they do these things out of fear of losing their own social position within the group.

Negative Self-Esteem

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Relational hostility can be used to mask low self-esteem in some cases. When a bully feels self-conscious about their clothing or looks, they may attack others before they have a chance to do so. Some tweens and teens believe that bullying others will make them feel better about themselves.

Behavior That Has Been Implicitly Taught to Someone

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Because it’s a learned behavior, kids will sometimes engage in malicious slander and defamation of others. Every day, kids pick up their social and behavioral habits from the people and things around them—whether it’s from a television show, an older sibling, their parents, or even their teachers.

Relational Aggression’s Emotional Consequences.

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Parents and educators often underestimate relational hostility. However, it is just as distressing for people who are subjected to it as any other form of bullying. According to many children, relational bullying can be as damaging as physical abuse.

Relational aggression is different from physical violence because it does not leave scars or wounds behind, making it more dangerous. In certain circumstances, victims of emotional bullying are more distressed than those who are physically tormented.

Relational aggression victims often report experiencing the following symptoms:

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  • Struggles in school.
  • Depression.
  • It’s difficult to make and keep friends.
  • Addictions to food.
  • Rejection, inadequacy, and unattractiveness are common emotions people experience when they are rejected.
  • Self-doubt and insecurity.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
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Take these warning signs seriously if you see them in your child. Take them seriously and don’t dismiss them as adolescent moodiness’s typical ups and downs. Find out what’s going on by digging a little deeper. Consult your child’s pediatrician or a bullying expert.

How to Respond

It’s difficult and confusing for everyone in the family to deal with relational aggression. There are various ways you may help your child deal with interpersonal aggression. Take the time to hear what your child has to say. Encouragement, patience, and empathy are all virtues that you should demonstrate.

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Reassure your child that they have no control over what’s happening. It’s important to point out that while they can’t influence what others do and say, they can manage how they respond to those things. For those who are struggling to express their emotions and develop appropriate coping mechanisms, consider therapy services.

Also, if you observe signs of sadness or suicidal thoughts, have them assessed by a family doctor or a pediatrician. These issues must never be overlooked.

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