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The relationship between parental psychopathology and children's subtypes of disruptive behavior problems

Lauren H Goldstein, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Parent psychopathology, including parental depression, anxiety, substance abuse, personality disorders, and ADHD, has been shown to be related to children's behavior development (Chronis et al., 2003). However, much of the research on the relationship between parent psychopathology and children's behavior problems has not considered children with different subtypes of behavior problems (e.g., those with hyperactivity versus those with oppositional-defiance), has focused on children of elementary school-age and older, and has focused on maternal psychopathology. The present study examined how mothers' and fathers' psychopathology is related to subtypes of behavior problems among preschool-aged children. Participants included 215 children, who were between 38 and 50 months, and their mothers and fathers, who were participating in a longitudinal study of young children with behavior problems. Children's behavior problems and parent psychopathology were measured using parental questionnaires and interviews. A series of ANOVAs and Chi-square analyses were run. As expected, parents of comorbid behavior problem children reported greater levels of psychopathology, alcohol abuse, and personality disorders than did parents of nonproblem children, and parents of both purely hyperactive children and comorbid behavior problem children reported greater levels of their own history of childhood ADHD than did parents of non-problem children. Exploratory analyses examined the moderating effects of child gender, child ethnicity, and parent education. This study has implications for understanding the importance of studying subtypes of preschool children's behavior problems, as well as the contribution of parent psychopathology to the maintenance and exacerbation of behavior problems from preschool age to elementary school age.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Behaviorial sciences

Recommended Citation

Goldstein, Lauren H, "The relationship between parental psychopathology and children's subtypes of disruptive behavior problems" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3216949.