Trajectories of Internalizing during the Transition to Adolescence in Children with and Without Conduct Problems

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Martin-Storey A, Temcheff CE, Déry M, Poirier M, Verlaan P, Lemelin J-P. (2018). Trajectories of internalizing problems during the transition to adolescence in children with and without conduct problems. International Journal of Behavioral Development. 42(5): 464-473.


Children with conduct problems are at greater risk for internalizing problems. The objectives of this study were to (1) examine trajectories of internalizing problems among children with and without clinically significant conduct problems during the transition to adolescence; and (2) identify how academic achievement, peer rejection, parent socioeconomic status, maternal distress, parental warmth, child temperament, and receptive verbal functioning explained differences between the two groups. Children with conduct problems (N = 388, 45% girls) and a comparison sample without conduct problems (N = 299, 52% girls) were recruited from Quebec, Canada, when they were between the ages of 7 and 10 years, and were followed across 4 years. Mothers and teachers provided information on internalizing problems each year. Having clinically significant conduct problems was associated with higher initial levels of internalizing problems according to mothers and teachers, but not with changes in internalizing problems over time. With regards to teacher ratings, academic achievement, peer rejection, and negative emotionality partially explained differences in internalizing problems for youth with and without conduct problems. For mother ratings, maternal distress, negative emotionality, and peer rejection completely explained the association for girls, and partially explained the association for boys. Findings supported a multi-rater approach for understanding risk for internalizing problems among children with and without conduct problems. In particular, they highlight the importance of differences across context for understanding factors associated with vulnerability to internalizing problems.