• child social skills;
  • adolescent mothers;
  • problem behaviors;
  • school transition


This study examined factors related to social competence in first grade among children of low-income, adolescent mothers. The sample included 83 mother–child dyads who had participated in a family support program for adolescent mothers. Characteristics of the child, mother, and the child's living context were examined for their relationship to children's social skills and problem behaviors. Several factors had significant bivariate relationships with social competence. Children with higher social skills and lower levels of problem behaviors were more likely to have received higher quality parenting, to have higher academic skills, and to live in neighborhoods with lower poverty rates. Children with higher social skills were less likely to have changed schools. In a path analysis, only academic skills were significantly related to either measure of social competence when other factors were controlled. Quality of parenting was indirectly related to social competence, and the effect was mediated by academic skills. School transience was also related to academic skills in the path analysis.