Person-centered approaches to examining links between self-regulation and conduct problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and callous-unemotional behaviors in childhood

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Peter D. Rehder (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Anne Fletcher

Abstract: Over the past two decades, the study of self-regulation and its associations with emerging psychopathology has become a major pursuit in developmental science. Early-childhood emotion regulation (ER) and executive function (EF), in particular, are interrelated aspects of self-regulation that have garnered extensive research and are theorized to promote social competence school readiness and achievement, and adjustment. However, the development of self-regulation is a complex process that occurs through coaction at multiple levels of analysis. Three studies were conducted to examine biobehavioral emotion responding in infancy, early childhood EF, and their prospective influences on trajectories of conduct problems (CPs), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and callous-unemotional (CU) behaviors using multiple person-centered approaches. Study 1 used latent profile analysis (LPA) to prospectively examine the synchrony and asynchrony of infant behavioral reactivity, cortisol reactivity, and ER behaviors at 6, 15, and 24 months of age to determine whether groups of infants evidenced different patterns of arousal and regulation; and whether such patterns were bidirectionally related to parenting behavior over the same span of time. Study 2 used longitudinal latent class analysis (LLCA) to examine joint trajectories of CPs, ADHD symptoms, and CU behaviors from 3 years old to 5th grade in order to assess examine heterogeneity in CPs based on the presence of ADHD and CU behaviors. Study 3 built upon the prior two studies by in by investigating associations of infants’ emotional arousal and regulation with their later CP/ADUD/CU trajectories, as well as the role of early childhood EF in mediating these prospective associations. Results from Study 1 indicated that there is observable variation in infants’ patterns of behavioral reactivity, cortisol reactivity, and ER behaviors across infancy, and that infant emotion responding and parent sensitivity and harsh-intrusion were bidirectionally predictive of one another. Results from Study 2 showed that children did follow differing trajectories of CPs, but that these varied based on who reported their behavior (parents, teachers, or both), rather than on trajectories of ADHD symptoms and CU behaviors. In addition, these joint trajectories differentiated children’s likelihood of meeting diagnostic criteria for oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and ADHD, as well as clinically significant levels of CU behaviors, during preadolescence. Finally, results from Study 3 indicated that infants’ patterns of emotion responding were not prospectively related to their CP/ADHD/CU trajectories or their early childhood EF. However, better EF did significantly predict a decreased likelihood of following trajectories characterized by high problem behavior as rated by both parents and teachers, parents only, and teachers only. The implications for understanding the early development of self-regulation, CPs, ADHD, and CU behaviors are discussed, as is the utility of innovative person-centered approaches for understanding these phenomena.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Callous-Unemotional Behaviors, Conduct Problems, Emotion Regulation, Executive Function, Parent Behavior
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
Emotional problems of children
Self-control in children
Child psychopathology
Parent and child

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