Bidirectional Relationship Between Language Skills and Behavior Problems in Preschool Children From Low-Income Families

Krystal Bichay-Awadalla, Cathy Huaqing Qi, Rebecca J. Bulotsky-Shearer, Judith J. Carta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the longitudinal, bidirectional relationship between language skills and behavior problems in a sample of 194 preschool children enrolled in Head Start programs. Children were individually assessed using the Preschool Language Scale-5, and teachers completed the Child Behavior Checklist-Teacher Report 1½–5. Cross-lagged path models using a structural equation modeling approach tested the reciprocal associations between language skills and behavior problems over the preschool year. Findings supported a bidirectional relationship between internalizing behavior problems and expressive language skills. However, findings supported a unidirectional association between early receptive language skills and later internalizing behavior problems. Gender moderated the relationship between receptive and expressive language skills and internalizing behavior problems in such a way that the association was only significant for girls. Implications for early intervention and prevention efforts targeting language development and behavior problems were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-128
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Keywords

  • Head Start
  • internalizing and externalizing problems
  • preschool children
  • receptive and expressive language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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