The effects of problem behaviors on the development of adaptive skills in children
Handfinger, Amiee S.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of three areas of behavior that have been linked to problems for children in the classroom (i.e., internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and school problems) by assessing the impact these factors have on the development of adaptive skills in young children. Specifically, the study examined the relationship between the presence of the three problem behaviors and the existence of adaptive skills in a single year for four groups of students (African American males, African American females, Caucasian males, and Caucasian females) involved in a large scale study. In addition, the relationship between the presence of these problem behaviors was examined with regard to the development of adaptive skills longitudinally. That is, the existence of these negative factors in the first year of the project was used to predict the development of adaptive skills in the third year of the project. Four composite scales on the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC) measured the three problem behaviors as well as the criterion variable, adaptive skills (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1992). The intent of this study was to describe the effects of three problem behaviors on the existence of adaptive skills for four groups of children. Furthermore, this study sought to determine whether the same combination of problem behaviors for these four groups would predict the existence of adaptive skills across time as they do in a single year. Overall, school problems explained a majority of the variance in the existence of adaptive skills among the three problem behaviors for all four groups in years 1, 2, and 3 of the project. Similarly, in the longitudinal prediction of adaptive skills, school problems explained the majority of the variance in the prediction of adaptive skills among all three problem behaviors for three of the groups. However, for African American males, externalizing problems accounted for the majority of the variance in the prediction of adaptive skills. In addition, externalizing problems appeared to be more important in understanding the existence of adaptive skills in a single year for African American students than for Caucasian students. Implications of this study include an increased understanding regarding those problematic areas that require attention in designing more effective intervention and prevention programs to target the healthy development of adaptive skills in children.