Emotional and behavioural problems in young children with divorced parents

Theunissen, M. H. C., Klein Velderman, M., Cloostermans, A. P. G. & Reijneveld, S. A. Oct-2017 In : European Journal of Public Health. 27, 5, p. 840-845 6 p.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

Copy link to clipboard


  • Emotional and behavioural problems in young children

    Final publisher's version, 105 KB, PDF-document


This study examines the link between divorce or separation and emotional and behavioural problems (EBP) in children aged 2-4 years.

We obtained cross-sectional data for a nationally representative Dutch sample of children aged 2-4 years within the setting of the national system of routine visits to well-child clinics. A total of 2600 children participated (response rate: 70%). Before the visit, parents completed the Child Behaviour Checklist and a questionnaire with questions about divorce or separation. We assessed the associations of children's EBP with a divorce either in the previous year or at any time in the past after adjustment for other child and family factors.

Four percent of the children had parents who had divorced before the child reached the age of 2-4 years, and 3.4% of these parents had divorced in the previous year. EBP (and particularly behavioural problems) were more likely in children aged 2-4 years old in cases of lifetime divorce or separation. This association was weaker after adjustment for relevant child and family characteristics: it may be partly due to confounding factors such as paternal education level, ethnicity and family size. A divorce in the previous year was not linked to child EBP.

These findings show the importance of identifying care needs and providing care for pre-school children whose parents have divorced since they suggest that there may be negative effects in the longer term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-845
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct-2017



View graph of relations

ID: 48558026