Teacher-child relationship and behavior problem trajectories in elementary school

Erin E. O'Connor, Eric Dearing, Brian A. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined associations between the quality of teacher-child relationships and behavior problems among elementary school students using data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, a study of 1,364 children from birth through adolescence. There were two main findings. First, high-quality teacher-child relationships predicted low levels of externalizing behaviors. Second, high-quality relationships acted as protective factors, helping to prevent children with high levels of internalizing behaviors in early childhood from developing trajectories of long-term internalizing behavior problems. Teacher-child relationships may be proximal phenomena that can be targeted in interventions to help prevent behavior problems in middle childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-162
Number of pages43
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • behavior problems
  • child development
  • elementary school
  • longitudinal studies
  • psychology
  • social processes/development
  • student behavior/attitude
  • student development
  • teacher-child relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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