Intergenerational Transmission of Child Problem Behaviors: A Longitudinal, Population-Based Study

Inge Meurs, Joni Reef, Frank Verhulst, Jan van der Ende

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: From a developmental perspective, it is important to know to what extent childhood problem behaviors are transmitted across generations. In a longitudinal community study, we compared child behavior of parents with the behavior of their offspring. Intergenerational transmission was investigated for a broad range of problem behaviors, including internalizing problems and externalizing behavior. Sex differences were investigated as well. Method: We compared Child Behavior Checklist scores of 4- to 16-year-old children (N = 271) from a community sample assessed in 1983 with Child Behavior Checklist scores of their 6- to 18-year-old offspring (N = 424) who were assessed in 2007. Multilevel modeling was used to test intergenerational associations. Results: Most forms of problem behavior in children were predicted by the behavior of their parents as children. Parents' Internalizing, Externalizing, and Total Problem scores in childhood all predicted similar problems in their children. Sex differences were found for Delinquent Behavior: continuity was stronger in mothers than it was in fathers, and it was also stronger in sons than in daughters. Conclusions: The finding that child behavior continues across generations poses challenges in finding ways to prevent problems from being transmitted across generations. J. Am. Acad. Child. Adolsc. Psychiatry, 2009:48(2):138-145.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume48
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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