Predictors of behavior problems in preschool children of inner-city Afro-American and Puerto Rican adolescent mothers

Child Dev. 1994 Apr;65(2 Spec No):638-48.


Maternal reports on the Child Behavior Checklist/2-3 (CBCL/2-3) were used to evaluate child, maternal, and environmental predictors of behavior problems in 83 preschool children of disadvantaged adolescent mothers. CBCL/2-3 scores correlated modestly with independent ratings of child difficult behaviors observed in videotaped mother-child play interactions. 13% of children had scores in the clinical range. Significant correlations were consistently found between CBCL/2-3 ratings and maternal depressive symptoms, social supports, and life stress--assessed 3 times during the first year postpartum. In hierarchical regression analyses, maternal depressive symptoms, residence with the adolescent's mother, and perceived emotional support from friends contributed most to the explained variance. A significant ethnicity x child gender interaction term also suggested that African American mothers of male children reported more behavioral problems. Findings evidence the heterogeneity of outcomes for children of disadvantaged adolescent mothers but also demonstrate how correlates of poverty negatively affect their socioemotional development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / prevention & control
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Urban Population*