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Heart Disease Health Center

Angry Children at Risk for Heart Disease

Helping Angry Children Become Flexible Is as Important as Diet, Exercise for Preventing Heart Disease
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Hostility, anger, and aggressiveness are complicated reactions with many roots, says John Sargent, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He agreed to discuss the findings with WebMD.

Predatory aggressiveness is one thing: "I want that, and I'm going to take it from you." Reactive aggressiveness is another: "I'm a threatened soul in the universe, watching out for whoever's doing stuff to me, and I'm going to get 'em."

Temperament can predispose some children to anger and hostility, he explains. That behavioral style is largely genetic, yet is affected by environment, he says.

You won't likely see the placid, adaptable kids lash out, Sargent explains. But push a shy child into a new environment, and they might act hostile if they're having trouble adapting, he says.

Also, a "difficult child" is the misfit, the kid who always has some difficulty interacting with the world. "When kids like that grow up among people who don't know how to deal with them effectively, they become more hostile," he explains.

Depressed children -- and children who have witnessed trauma -- can also act with hostility, he tells WebMD. "Kids with a chip on their shoulder, who react intensely to slights or disappointments, can be seen by peers parents teachers as being negative. Sometimes depression and [posttraumatic stress disorder] coincide. Sometimes depression is a response to trauma or adversity."

Bottom line, he says: Helping angry children will improve the quality of their lives, helping them have more friends and a better self-image. Such positive influences may help children take better care of themselves, offsetting the risk for heart disease.

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