Evidence from general population studies shows the contribution of various temperament traits to the development of child psychopathology. Little is known about which traits are associated with internalizing and externalizing problems in young clinically referred children. The current study assessed temperament and internalizing and externalizing problems in 216 referred children (M = 4.35 years, SD 0.89, 81% boys). A comparison was made with an age and gender matched general population sample. Referred children showed less effortful control than general population children. Less effortful control and more negative affectivity were associated with more internalizing and externalizing problems across groups. Surgency, and specifically temperamental impulsivity, was more strongly associated with externalizing problems in referred children compared to general population. Less soothability, less inhibitory control and more frustration predicted (sub)clinical levels of comborbid internalizing and externalizing problems in referred children. The results can be used in diagnostic and treatment procedures in early childhood.
- Behavior disorders
- Clinically referred
- Early childhood
- Internalizing and externalizing behavior problems