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Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 1998 Jun;1(2):101-24.

Conduct problems and level of social competence in Head Start children: prevalence, pervasiveness, and associated risk factors.

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Parenting Clinic, Box 345801, School of Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


The purpose of the current project was to determine the prevalence of conduct problems, low social competence, and associated risk factors in a sample of 4-year-old low-income children (N = 426) from 64 Head Start classrooms in the Seattle area. Conduct problems and social competence were assessed based on a combination of teacher reports, parent reports, and independent observations of children interacting with peers in the classroom and with parents at home. We examined the relative contribution of a variety of risk factors, including maternal history and socioeconomic background, current levels of stress and social support, mothers' emotional state, and parenting competence in relation to "pervasive" (i.e., at home and school) and "nonpervasive" conduct problems and low social competence. Findings indicated similar risk factors for conduct problems and for low social competence, with an ordered increase in the number of risk factors from normal to "nonpervasive" to "pervasive" groups. Harshness of parenting style (i.e., slapping, hitting, yelling) significantly distinguished between the three groups for low social competence and conduct problems. Positive affect, praise, and physical warmth from mothers were positively related to social competence but unrelated to conduct problems.

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