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Within-person Relations between Domains of Socio-emotional Development during Childhood and Adolescence

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  • Lydia Speyer
  • Hildigunnur Anna Hall
  • Anastasia Ushakova
  • Michelle Luciano
  • Bonnie Auyeung
  • Aja Louise Murray
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/10/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
Issue number10
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)1261-1274
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date7/06/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Adolescence is a critical period in the development of mental health with nearly 1 in 5 adolescents suffering from mental health problems and more than 40 percent of these experiencing at least one co-occurring mental health disorder. This study investigates whether there are differences in the relations between key dimensions of child and adolescent mental health in adolescence compared to childhood. Mental health and related socio-emotional traits were measured longitudinally at ages 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, and 16 in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (N = 11279) using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires. Graphical Vector Autoregression models were used to analyse the temporal within-person relations between conduct problems, emotional problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer problems and prosociality across childhood (ages 4 to 9) and adolescence (11 to 16). Results suggest that adolescence is characterised by an increase in the number and strength of temporal relations between socio-emotional difficulties. In particular, in adolescence there were bidirectional connections between peer problems and emotional problems, between conduct problems and hyperactivity/inattention and between prosociality and conduct problems as well as hyperactivity/inattention. In childhood, conduct problems and prosociality were reciprocally related. Results also suggested peer problems as a potential mediating factor between conduct and emotional problems in childhood. Overall, this study suggests that different domains of socio-emotional development influence each other over development. Adolescence is characterised by an increase in temporal connections, which may be one factor underlying the increased vulnerability to the onset of mental health problems during that period.