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01-03-2015 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2016

Child Psychiatry & Human Development 1/2016

Young Children’s Ritualistic Compulsive-Like Behavior and Executive Function: A Cross Sectional Study

Tijdschrift:
Child Psychiatry & Human Development > Uitgave 1/2016
Auteurs:
Ada H. Zohar, Dana Dahan

Abstract

The goal of this study was to test whether the development of executive function in young children could add to the explained variance in child ritualistic behavior beyond child and maternal traits previously found to have explanatory power. Routinized, ritualistic behavior is common and normative in young children between the ages of 2 and 5, after which it subsides. In this cross-sectional study, maternal reports on 1345 children between the ages of 2 and 6 included child variables such as temperament, fears, and behavioral problems. Mother’s characteristics included perfectionism, her attachment style, and trait anxiety. The sample included ultra-orthodox families, an understudied minority, and thus it was possible to compare their ritualistic behavior with that of children from other rearing environments. Ultraorthodox children had more ritualistic behavior than age-matched children. This finding offers support for an environmental influence on level of ritualistic behavior in children. For the entire sample, we found that young children’s ritualistic behavior was associated with shy and emotional temperament, fears, pervasive developmental behavioral problems, and that executive function delays in shifting and emotion regulation had an additional contribution. Ritualistic child behavior was only weakly related to maternal variables. The results were consistent with a maturational process for the trajectory of ritualistic behavior, rather than with an environmentally induced behavior. The development of executive function may be the process mediating the decline of ritualistic behavior over development.

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