Growth trajectories of early aggression, overactivity, and inattention: Relations to second-grade reading

Dev Psychol. 2014 Sep;50(9):2255-63. doi: 10.1037/a0037367. Epub 2014 Jul 21.


The link between behavior problems and low academic achievement is well established, but few studies have examined longitudinal relations between early externalizing behaviors before school entry and low academic achievement following transition to formal schooling. Early inattention has been particularly overlooked, despite strong associations between inattention and reading difficulties later in development. Trajectories of infant and toddler aggression, overactivity, and inattention, developed from parent reports about 1- to 3-year-old children, were examined as predictors of direct assessments of 2nd-grade reading in an at-risk epidemiological study subsample (N = 359). Reports of inattentive and overactive behaviors at ages 1-3 years and changes in inattention through toddlerhood predicted reading achievement in 2nd grade. A parallel process model suggested that the effects of early inattention on reading appear to be most robust. Findings underscore the contribution of social-emotional development to school readiness and the importance of early identification of children with externalizing problems, as early interventions designed to reduce externalizing problems may improve later reading skills.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Tests
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychomotor Agitation / psychology*
  • Reading*
  • Schools