Behavioural problems in 2-year-olds: links with individual differences in theory of mind, executive function and harsh parenting
Article first published online: 28 SEP 2005
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 47, Issue 5, pages 488–497, May 2006
How to Cite
Hughes, C. and Ensor, R. (2006), Behavioural problems in 2-year-olds: links with individual differences in theory of mind, executive function and harsh parenting. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47: 488–497. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01519.x
- Issue published online: 28 SEP 2005
- Article first published online: 28 SEP 2005
- Manuscript accepted 4 April 2005
- Theory of mind;
- executive function;
- behavioural problems;
Background: Cognitive and family factors are implicated in the origins of behavioural problems, but little is known about their independence or interplay.
Methods: We present data from 127 two-year-olds from predominantly disadvantaged families who completed tests of ‘theory of mind’ (ToM), executive function (EF) and verbal ability. Researchers’ home-visit ratings and detailed video-based coding of mother–child interactions were combined to give an aggregate measure of harsh parenting, while behavioural problems were indexed by a multi-informant, multi-setting, multi-measure aggregate.
Results: Harsh parenting and deficits in ToM and verbal ability each predicted unique variance in behavioural problems; independent effects of EF were only marginally significant. Harsh parenting and ToM interacted significantly in their effects on behavioural problems.
Conclusions: Child and family influences on behavioural problems should be considered in tandem, as they show significant interplay; in particular, advanced ToM skills appear to buffer young children against effects of harsh parenting.