Background. Previous research has suggested that behavioural
problems displayed during the pre-school years are best understood as
undifferentiated difficulties in manageability. The present study
explored this issue, by examining the structure of British parents'
of their pre-school children's behavioural problems.
Method. The 19-item Behavioural Checklist (BCL; Richman, 1977)
completed by 1047 parents
of 3-year-old children taking part in an epidemiological survey of child
Results. Factor analysis revealed six factors representing
social adjustment, poor emotional
adjustment, sleep problems, over-activity/inattention, eating problems
soiling. When these
scores were used as a basis for cluster analysis, problem types clustered
around six centres. The first,
and largest, grouping was of children with no problems. Three further
large groupings displayed
specific but moderate problems (over-active, timid, and naughty children).
final two groupings
displayed more extreme problems including anti-social behaviour. In one
group these were
accompanied by severe emotional problems and in the other by signs of
reliability and validity of these clusters was supported. Parental ratings
taken when the children were 8-years-old suggested that the children in
hyperactive/conduct group were likely to have continued difficulties.
Conclusion. This paper argues against the homogeneity of pre-school
behaviour problems but
supports the idea that problems of a clinically significant level are likely
be co-morbid, with either
problems of emotional regulation (neurotic) or those of behavioural
regulation (hyperactive) accompanied by problems of conduct.