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Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2006 Sep;256(6):344-9. Epub 2006 Aug 4.

Father-infant interaction patterns as precursors of children's later externalizing behavior problems: a longitudinal study over 11 years.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, P.O. Box 122120, 68072, Mannheim, Germany.



This study examined the extent to which fathers' and infants' interaction behavior were related to children's externalizing behavior problems at age 8 and 11 years.


In a prospective longitudinal study of children at risk for later psychopathology, 72 fathers and their 3-month-old children were videotaped and evaluated during a standardized playing and nursing situation. Externalizing behavior problems at age 8 and 11 years were assessed using Achenbach's Child Behavior Checklist.


In the high externalizing group, fathers were found to be less responsive and less sensitive (the latter only with respect to girls) during early interaction than fathers of the low externalizing group, while children were more positive with their fathers. Furthermore, low scores on the interaction pattern of "sensitive fathering/negative infant" and high scores on the "nonresponsive fathering or active infant" pattern were associated with more externalizing problems.


These findings suggest that father and infant interaction behaviors during early infancy may predict later problem behaviors at school age, although the mechanisms underlying this relationship have yet to be identified.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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