Title: Reciprocal relations between teacher-child conflict and externalizing behavior in kindergarten: A three-wave longitudinal study
Authors: Doumen, Sarah ×
Verschueren, Karine
Buyse, Evelien #
Issue Date: Mar-2007
Conference: Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development location:Boston, MA., U.S.A. date:March 29 - April 1 2007
Abstract: Previous research investigated the connection between conflict in the early teacher-child relationship and externalizing behavior mainly only from an unidirectional point of view: Either the effect of teacher-child conflict on externalizing behavior was investigated, or vice versa, the effect of externalizing behavior on teacher-child conflict. A first study testing the possibility of reciprocal effects was performed by Birch and Ladd (1998). However, only two measurement occasions were involved, and reciprocal relations were not tested simultaneously in one model. Moreover, teacher-child relationships in two different school years and hence involving two different teachers were assessed. The goal of the present study was to add to the existing research by testing the possibility of reciprocal relations within one school year.
A cross-lagged longitudinal design was used (N = 169 children and 36 kindergarten teachers; mean age of the children = 5;2 years) with core measurements at three occasions during the kindergarten school year (1st, 2nd and 3rd trimester). Teacher-child conflict was rated by external observers, whereas the child’s externalizing behavior was rated by the teacher, thereby avoiding shared method variance. Conflict in the teacher-child relationship was assessed by means of an adapted version of the Negative Climate subscale of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS; La Paro, Pianta, & Stuhlman, 2002). Interrater reliability proved to be adequate, r(35) = .87. Externalizing behavior was measured by means of the subscales Aggressive and Hyperactive-Distractible of the Child Behavior Scale (CBS; Ladd & Profilet, 1996). In the present investigation Cronbach’s alpha at each measurement occasion was adequate for both scales (a = .81-.89). Given the moderate to high correlation between the Aggressive and Hyperactive-Distractible Behavior scales at each measurement moment (r = .38-.46), both scales were averaged to create an externalizing behavior score.
Four models were estimated and compared: a baseline model with only autoregressive paths and cross-sectional correlations, a teacher-child conflict main effects model, an externalizing behavior main effects model, and a reciprocal model. Since past studies have found gender differences in teacher-child conflict and externalizing behavior, with boys typically rated higher than girls on these variables, the confounding influence of gender was controlled for in the final model. Listwise deletion of missing values was performed, reducing the sample size to 89. No significant differences were found between the longitudinal group and the drop-out group on the central variables, except for externalizing behavior in the 3rd trimester (small to medium effect size). Path analysis favored the externalizing behavior main effects model. The child’s externalizing behavior at time 1 and time 2 had a significant positive effect on the amount of conflict in their relationships with the teacher at time 2 and time 3 respectively. The same model emerged after controlling for the possible confounding effect of gender.
In conclusion, it appears to be mainly the child factor, externalizing behavior, that has an effect on the subsequent teacher-child relationship quality. No evidence for reciprocal relations was found. Interpretations and implications of these findings will be discussed.
Description: 12
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:School Psychology and Child and Adolescent Development
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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