Early Risk Factors and Pathways in the Development of Early Disruptive Behavior Problems

Daniel S. Shaw Elizabeth B. Owens Joan I. Vondra

Kate Keenan Emily B. Winslow

University of Pittsburgh



The present study examined risk factors from infancy associated with the development of preschool disruptive behavior problems across child, parent, and sociodemographic domains. Risk factors that consistently were associated with the prediction of age 5 disruptive behavior included disorganized attachment classification at 12 months, and maternal personality risk and childrearing disagreements during the second year. In addition, infants with disorganized attachment status at 12 months whose mothers perceived them as difficult in the second year showed significantly higher aggressive problems at age 5 than those with only one of the two risk factors present. When pathways leading to clinically-elevated aggression at age 5 were explored, infant disorganized attachment status, maternal personality risk, and childrearing disagreements demonstrated equivalent predictive validity as child aggression assessed at age 3.