Reducing child aggression through sports intervention: The role of self-control skills and emotions

Keren Shachar, Tammie Ronen-Rosenbaum, Michael Rosenbaum, Hod Orkibi, Liat Hamama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined how sports intervention may reduce aggressive behaviors in children (Grades 3–6), focusing on the relations between acquisition of self-control skills (SCSs) and aggressive behavior through the mediation of thoughts (i.e., hostility) and emotions (i.e., positive and negative). In a sample of 649 Israeli children, 50% were assigned to an experimental group and the remainder to a waitlisted control group. As hypothesized, children in the experimental group reported significantly larger gains in SCSs and significantly larger decreases in physical aggression, hostile thoughts, and negative emotions. Results of structural equation modeling suggested that SCS gains were linked to changes in hostile thoughts, as mediated by changes in both positive and negative emotions. In addition, changes in hostile thoughts were linked to changes in physical aggression through the mediation of changes in anger. Among girls, changes in SCSs were linked directly to changes in physical aggression (with no indirect effect), whereas among boys, changes in SCSs were linked indirectly to changes in physical aggression, through changes in positive and negative emotions. Findings contribute to understanding of possible mechanisms underlying the associations between children's self-control and aggression, with particular implications for the roles of positive and negative emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was part of the assessment process for one of several Israeli social-educational projects established by the Rashi Foundation ( h of extra afterschool sports activities delivered over 24 weeks, comprising two weekly hours of martial arts and three weekly hours of other group sports activities (e.g., soccer, basketball, volleyball, mini-football, capoeira). The trainers, parents, and children were aware of the aim of the project: to enhance self-control skills. In each school, two certified sports trainers (i.e., coaches), who were not part of the regular school staff, delivered the activities; one specialized in martial arts and the other in group sports activities. Fidelity of intervention delivery was monitored by a school coordinator who reported on a regular basis to the project's regional supervisor. /) in collaboration with and with funding from the Children and Youth at Risk Foundation (National Insurance Institute) and the education departments of participating local municipalities. The project administrators (not the research team) selected 39 typical schools from Israel's underprivileged peripheral geographical areas to participate in the project: 25 from the north and 14 from the south of Israel. The project administrators selected 21 of the schools to receive a sports intervention over one academic year (the experimental group) and placed the remaining 18 schools on a waiting list to receive the intervention the following year (the control group). The experimental group received a total of 120

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • Aggression
  • Anger
  • Children
  • Hostility
  • Positive and negative emotion
  • Self-control skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Reducing child aggression through sports intervention: The role of self-control skills and emotions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this