Ritual, habit, and perfectionism: the prevalence and development of compulsive-like behavior in normal young children

Child Dev. 1997 Feb;68(1):58-68.


Young children engage in a significant amount of ritualistic, repetitive, and compulsive-like activity that appears to be part of their normal behavioral repertoire. Empirically, little is known about the onset, prevalence, and developmental trajectory of these phenomena. A parent-report questionnaire, the Childhood Routines Inventory (CRI), was developed to assess compulsive-like behavior in young children, and was administered to 1,492 parents with children between the ages of 8 and 72 months. The CRI has strong overall internal consistency and a distinct two-factor structure. The frequency of compulsive-like behaviors changes with age: Two-, 3-, and 4-year-olds engaged in more compulsive behavior than children younger than 1 year of age and older than 4 years of age. Results are discussed from a developmental psychopathology framework and for their implications for future research in this area.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Personality Development*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*