Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Sutherland


A number of preschool children engage in consistent problem behaviors that place them at-risk for developing emotional and behavioral disorders. These problem behaviors have been associated with poorer short and long-term outcomes for young children. Teacher-child relationships (i.e. conflict and closeness) and positive interactions between teachers and children may be reciprocally associated with problem behavior (e.g. teacher-child closeness reducing problem behavior). The purpose of this study was to explore the longitudinal bi-directional relations between teacher-child relationships, teacher-child interactions, and problem behavior over a single school year. Using a cross-lagged panel model, data from a larger randomized control trial of the BEST in CLASS program, was examined across three time points, and differences based on intervention participation were examined. Results indicated that there were far fewer paths in the business as usual group compared to the BEST in CLASS group. As expected, in the comparison group, problem behavior at Time 1 predicted lower levels of closeness at Time 2, however, this relation was not significant in the BEST in CLASS group. In the BEST in CLASS model problem behavior at Time 1 negatively predicted Time 2 positive interactions and there was a cross-lagged association with problem behavior at Time 1 predicting higher levels of conflict at Time, which in turn predicted higher levels of problem behavior at Time 3. Additional findings, limitations and implications for intervention work, practice, and policy are discussed.


© Rachel Kunemund

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VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission