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The role of language ability and self-regulation in the development of inattentive–hyperactive behavior problems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 July 2014

Isaac T. Petersen*
Affiliation:
Indiana University
John E. Bates
Affiliation:
Indiana University
Angela D. Staples
Affiliation:
University of Virginia
*
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Isaac T. Petersen, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, 1101 East 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405. E-mail: itpeters@indiana.edu.

Abstract

Previous research has found associations but not established mechanisms of developmental linkage between language ability and inattentive–hyperactive (I-H) behavior problems. The present study examined whether self-regulation mediates the effect of language ability on later I-H behavior problems among young children (N = 120) assessed at 30, 36, and 42 months of age. Cross-lagged panel models tested the direction of effect between language ability and self-regulation and longitudinal effects of language ability on later I-H problems mediated by self-regulation. Language ability was measured by children's scores on the receptive and expressive language subtests of the Differential Ability Scales. Self-regulation was measured by three behavioral tasks requiring inhibitory control. I-H problems were reported by parents and secondary caregivers. Language ability predicted later self-regulation as measured by all three tasks. There was no association, however, between self-regulation and later language ability, suggesting that the direction of effect was stronger from language ability to later self-regulation. Moreover, the effect of language ability on later I-H behavior problems was mediated by children's self-regulation in one of the tasks (for secondary caregivers' but not parents' ratings). Findings suggest that language deficits may explain later I-H behavior problems via their prediction of poorer self-regulatory skills.

Type
Special Section Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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