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Previous studies have documented a significant link between physical maltreatment and aggressive behavior in early to middle childhood [3,18,19].
Physically maltreated children are at a heightened risk for developing externalizing behavior problems, including aggression and disruptive behaviors, compared with nonmaltreated children [2,4].
Resilience is defined as the capacity for successful adaptation in the face of adversity .
Developing over the last several decades, resilience theory focuses on the protective processes that promote well-being and protect against risk .
Children who were physically maltreated were more likely to exhibit clinical levels of aggressive behavior at Time 1 than children who were not physically maltreated.
Children’s internalizing well-being, children’s prosocial behavior, and caregivers’ well-being were associated with lower likelihood of clinical levels of aggressive behavior at Time 1.
Various protective factors at the individual and family level that may buffer the risk of maladaptive behaviors and promote successful behavioral adjustment for maltreated children have been identified in empirical studies (for a comprehensive review on protective factors associated with resilience in maltreated children, see Afifi and Mac Millan, 2011) .
Furthermore, findings from several longitudinal studies indicate that protective factors may have enduring effects in promoting resilience in children [8,33,34,35].
As such, resilience is a dynamic developmental process.
Child internalizing well-being is another individual-level protective factor that has been associated with resilience in children who have experienced maltreatment.
Internalizing well-being can be defined as the absence of internalizing behavior problems, which include a child being withdrawn or experiencing somatic problems, anxiety, or depression.
In a longitudinal study spanning from infancy to preadolescence, prosocial skills emerged as a significant protective factor against aggression .
Specifically, most children with better-developed prosocial skills had low or moderate physical aggression trajectories as opposed to high physical aggression trajectories .