Does noncompliance in toddlerhood predict externalizing problems later on?

S. Smeekens, W. Stapert

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


    Introduction and aims of the study: Toddlers who exhibit noncomplying behavior are considered to be at risk for developing externalizing problems. At the same time, strivings for autonomy are typical for toddlerhood, thus some opposing behavior can be expected in normal development. In studying these conflicting ideas, we searched for “healthy” forms of noncompliance in toddlerhood. To find out, we used Kochanska’s (1995) taxonomy for assessing (non)compliance and examined whether noncompliance in toddlerhood predicted externalizing problems in middle childhood. Material and Methods: Participants were 101 children (51% boys) from the Nijmegen Longitudinal Study on Infant and Child Development. At 28 months, parents were asked to keep children from touching an attractive box (3min); coders rated (non)compliance during this prohibition task and classified children into one of Kochanska’s two categories for compliance (i.e., Committed, Situational) or three categories for noncompliance (i.e., Passive, Overt resistance, Defiance). At age 9, teachers rated externalizing behavior problems (TRF; Achenbach, 1991). Results: One-way ANOVA analysis revealed significant differences among the five categories for externalizing problems (F(4,85) = 9.33, p = .00). As expected, children in the Passive noncompliance (M = 11.00; SD = 8.14) and the Defiant (M = 11.78; SD = 6.51) group exhibited significantly more externalizing problems at age 9 than compliant children (M = 2.94, SD = 5.96 for Committed compliance; M = 2.82, SD = 4.06 for Situational compliance). However, children in the Overt resistance group (M = 0.67; SD = 1.32) did not. Instead, their externalizing scores were significantly lower than those of the other two noncompliant groups, resembling the scores of the compliant groups. Conclusions: Our data preliminary suggest that Overt resistance, characterized by a nonaversive, socially skilled form of noncompliance, may be considered a healthy form of noncompliance, showing “autonomy with connectedness” (Emde & Buchsbaum, 1990; Sroufe, 1995).
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - May 2016
    Event15th World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health : Infant Mental Health in a rapidly changing world: Conflict, adversity, and resilience - Clarion Congress Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic
    Duration: 29 May 20162 Jun 2016


    Conference15th World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health
    Abbreviated titleWAIMH 2016
    Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
    Internet address


    • Compliance
    • externalizing problems
    • toddlerhood
    • parent-child interaction
    • longitudinal


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