Effect of concentration problems on the malleability of children's aggressive and shy behaviors

George W. Rebok, Wesley E. Hawkins, Penelope Krener, Lawrence S. Mayer, Sheppard G. Kellam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: Previous research has demonstrated the central role of early childhood concentration problems in the development of aggression and other maladaptive behaviors. The present study investigated the moderating effect of concentration problems on the impact of a classroom-based preventive intervention directed at aggressive and shy behaviors in an epidemiologically defined sample of 1,084 urban first-grade children. Method: Concentration problems, aggressive behavior, and shy behavior were assessed by a structured teacher interview (the Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation-Revised) in the fall and spring of first grade. Results: Children with high ratings on concentration problems in the fall had higher levels of teacher-rated aggressive and shy behavior in the spring than did children without such problems. The intervention reduced aggressive and shy behavior in children regardless of fail concentration level. Boys, but not girls, in the intervention condition with high concentration problems had higher levels of spring aggression than those without such problems, but they also showed the greatest reductions in aggressive behavior from fall to spring. Conclusions: These results suggest that aggressive behavior is malleable in children with concentration problems, provide further evidence on the etiological significance of concentration problems for the development of maladaptive behavior, and highlight the importance of directly targeting concentration problems to maximize preventive intervention impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-203
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1996


  • aggressive behavior
  • concentration problems
  • developmental epidemiology
  • malleability
  • preventive intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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