Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1187–1199 | Cite as

The Predictive Utility of Early Childhood Disruptive Behaviors for School-Age Social Functioning

  • Lauretta M. BrennanEmail author
  • Daniel S. Shaw
  • Thomas J. Dishion
  • Melvin N. Wilson


Research suggests that school-age children with disruptive behavior (DB) problems frequently demonstrate impaired social skills and experience rejection from peers, which plays a crucial role in the pathway to more serious antisocial behavior. A critical question is which DB problems in early childhood are prognostic of impaired social functioning in school-age children. This study examines the hypothesis that aggression in early childhood will be the more consistent predictor of compromised social functioning than inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, or oppositional behavior. Participants included an ethnically diverse sample of 725 high-risk children from 3 geographically distinct areas followed from ages 2 to 8.5. Four latent growth models of DB from child ages 2 to 5, and potential interactions between dimensions, were used to predict latent parent and teacher ratings of school-age social dysfunction. Analyses were conducted in a multi-group format to examine potential differences between intervention and control group participants. Results showed that age 2 aggression was the DB problem most consistently associated with both parent- and teacher-rated social dysfunction for both groups. Early starting aggressive behavior may be particularly important for the early identification of children at risk for school-age social difficulties.


Antisocial behavior Externalizing Early intervention Prevention Risk 



The research reported in this paper was supported by grants to the second, third, and fourth authors from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (22773 and 023245).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauretta M. Brennan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel S. Shaw
    • 1
  • Thomas J. Dishion
    • 2
  • Melvin N. Wilson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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