Aggressive behavior, emotional, and attention problems across childhood and academic attainment at the end of primary school

Nathalie Tamayo Martinez*, Henning Tiemeier, Maartje P.C.M. Luijk, James Law, Jan van den Ende, Frank Verhulst, Pauline W. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: To assess whether aggressive behavior and emotional problems from early childhood onwards are related to academic attainment at the end of primary education, and whether these associations are independent of attention problems. Methods: Data on 2546 children participating in a longitudinal birth cohort in Rotterdam were analyzed. Aggressive behavior, attention and emotional problems at ages 1½, 3, 5 and 10 years were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist. Academic attainment at the end of primary school (12 years of age) was measured with the CITO test, a national Dutch academic test score. Results: Aggressive behavior from age 1½ to 10 years was negatively associated with academic attainment, but these associations attenuated to non-significance when accounting for comorbid attention problems. For emotional problems, first, only problems at 10 years were associated with poorer academic attainment. Yet, when accounting for attention problems, the association reversed: more emotional problems from 1½ to 10 years were associated with a better academic attainment. Attention problems at ages 1½ to 10 years were negatively associated with academic attainment, independent of comorbid emotional problems or aggressive behavior. Conclusions: Attention problems across childhood are related to a poorer academic attainment, while emotional problems predicted better academic attainment. Moreover, the relationship between aggressive behavior and academic attainment was explained by comorbid attention problems. Future research should determine the mechanisms through which attention problems and emotional problems affect academic attainment, to inform strategies for the promotion of better educational attainment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-846
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Volume56
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2021

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