NEGATIVE EMOTIONALITY, ACTIVITY LEVEL AND EXTERNALIZING PROBLEMS IN PRESCHOOLERS: THE INFLUENCE OF MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH AND EDUCATION
Nwadinobi, Ogechi Katherina
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Early childhood temperament has been extensively linked to child externalizing behavioral problems such as aggression, violence, disobedience and antisocial behaviors. Individuals with such behavioral patterns are at greater risk for psychopathologies including oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and conduct disorder (Caspi, Henry, McGee, Moffitt & Silva, 1995). The current investigation examined whether the child temperament factors of negative emotionality and activity level predict externalizing problems in preschool. In addition, the study assessed whether maternal mental health and education moderate the relationship between child temperament and externalizing behavior problems. The sample consisted of 201 typically developing children (males = 104, mean age = 3.86, SD = 1.04) and their mothers (mean age = 34.13, SD = 5.13) in the Dallas Fort-Worth area. Measures included laboratory-assessed negative emotionality and activity level in addition to parent-rated negative emotionality, activity level, maternal depression and maternal trait anxiety. Principal components analyses were used to construct lab-based negative emotionality and activity level measures. Using MLM regression, the study found that maternal anxiety moderated the relationship between child activity level and externalizing problems. Additionally, maternal education moderated the relationship between activity level and externalizing problems.