• Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire;
  • self-report;
  • children;
  • reliability;
  • factor structure


To examine the factor structure of the self-report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) for data from a sample of British children aged 6–10 years.


The self-report SDQ was administered to 900 children aged 6–10 years via interviews with trained counsellors.


Confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses showed that a two-factor solution comprising ‘externalizing and peer problems’ and ‘internalizing problems’ fit the data well for both the 6- to 7- and 8- to 10-year-old samples. The factors were correlated in both samples.


Children between 6 and 10 years of age provided meaningful SDQ data. The identified two-factor model maps broadly onto the constructs of externalizing and internalizing behaviour.

Practitioner points

  • The findings suggest that children in the United Kingdom younger than 11 years of age are able to complete the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), providing practitioners with a picture of a child's insight and understanding of their problems.
  • The findings show that, with children aged 6–10 years, the self-report SDQ provides information about two factors that map broadly onto the constructs of externalizing and internalizing behaviour.
  • This study is the first in the United Kingdom to examine the self-report SDQ in young children, adding weight to an emerging literature base.
  • To support understanding in very young children, the self-report SDQ should to be delivered via interview, so that self-descriptions are appropriate to the child's developmental level.