Sample/Method: A sample of 124 children (ages 9–11, 27% girls) with disruptive behavior problems was divided into two groups according to positive (n=64) or negative (n=60) adjustment in adolescence (ages 15–17). These two groups were identified via latent class analysis. Presence of various mental health problems at ages 9–11 (conduct, oppositional, attention, anxiety and depression) based on parent report allowed calculating an index of severity of behavior problems. Potential mediators were measured when the children were ages 13–14.
Results: Results show lack of parental supervision and presence of alcohol- or drug-consuming friends to be associated with presence of adolescent adjustment problems but without being mediators. Only quality of parent-adolescent relationship proved a mediating factor: The relationship between severity of behavior problems at ages 9–11 and negative adolescent adjustment can be explained in full by a more deteriorated parent-adolescent relationship. These results apply to both boys and girls.
Conclusions: When behavior problems are firmly rooted, results militate in favour of including parents in intervention in order to prevent deterioration of the parent-adolescent relationship, if not improve its quality.