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Biological, behavioral, and relational levels of resilience in the context of risk for early childhood behavior problems

  • Susan D. Calkins (a1), Alysia Y. Blandon (a1), Amanda P. Williford (a1) and Susan P. Keane (a1)

Abstract

Longitudinal growth patterns of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems were examined in a community sample of 441 children across the ages of 2 to 5 using hierarchical linear modeling. Contextual risk was measured using five indicators (socioeconomic status, marital status, number of siblings, parent stress, parent psychopathology), and three levels of child resilience (biological, behavioral, and relational) were also assessed. Results indicate that a general pattern of decline in both types of behavior problems was observed for the entire sample across time, although considerable individual variability in this pattern was observed. Children's externalizing and internalizing behavior at age 5 was predicted by the level of risk at age 2. All three child resilience factors were also predictive of externalizing and internalizing behaviors at age 5. In the prediction of the slope of problem behavior over time, risk status interacted with both temperamental fearlessness and a mutually responsive orientation with the mother to predict the decline in externalizing and internalizing problem behavior. Results underscore the complex interactions of risk and multiple levels of resilience that are implicated in the maintenance of problem behavior over time. They highlight the importance of considering whether expected resilience factors operate similarly across different levels of risk.

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Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Susan D. Calkins, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27402; E-mail: sdcalkin@uncg.edu.

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