We assessed relations between early temperament and behavior problems across 12 years in an unselected sample of over 800 children. Temperament measures were drawn from behavior ratings made by examiners who observed children at ages 3, 5, 7, and 9. Factor analyses revealed 3 dimensions at each age: Lack of Control, Approach, and Sluggishness. Temperament dimensions at ages 3 and 5 were correlated in theoretically coherent ways with behavior problems that were independently evaluated by parents and teachers at ages 9 and 11, and by parents at ages 13 and 15. Lack of Control was more strongly associated with later externalizing behavior problems than with internalizing problems; Approach was associated with fewer internalizing problems among boys; and Sluggishness was weakly associated with both anxiety and inattention, especially among girls. Lack of Control and Sluggishness were also associated with fewer adolescent competencies. These results suggest that early temperament may have predictive specificity for the development of later psychopathology.
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