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Aggressive behavior, emotional, and attention problems across childhood and academic attainment at the end of primary school

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  • Nathalie Tamayo Martinez
  • Henning Tiemeier
  • Maartje P C M Luijk
  • James Law
  • Jan van der Ende
  • Frank Verhulst
  • Pauline W Jansen
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PURPOSE: To assess whether aggressive behavior and emotional problems from early childhood onwards are related to academic attainment at the end of primary education, and whether these associations are independent of attention problems.

METHODS: Data on 2546 children participating in a longitudinal birth cohort in Rotterdam were analyzed. Aggressive behavior, attention and emotional problems at ages 1½, 3, 5 and 10 years were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist. Academic attainment at the end of primary school (12 years of age) was measured with the CITO test, a national Dutch academic test score.

RESULTS: Aggressive behavior from age 1½ to 10 years was negatively associated with academic attainment, but these associations attenuated to non-significance when accounting for comorbid attention problems. For emotional problems, first, only problems at 10 years were associated with poorer academic attainment. Yet, when accounting for attention problems, the association reversed: more emotional problems from 1½ to 10 years were associated with a better academic attainment. Attention problems at ages 1½ to 10 years were negatively associated with academic attainment, independent of comorbid emotional problems or aggressive behavior.

CONCLUSIONS: Attention problems across childhood are related to a poorer academic attainment, while emotional problems predicted better academic attainment. Moreover, the relationship between aggressive behavior and academic attainment was explained by comorbid attention problems. Future research should determine the mechanisms through which attention problems and emotional problems affect academic attainment, to inform strategies for the promotion of better educational attainment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Volume56
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)837-846
Number of pages10
ISSN0933-7954
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Copyright:
Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Academic attainment, Aggressive behavior, Attention problems, Cohort study, Emotional problems

ID: 63735695