Language and *behavior in toddlers: Are they related?

Dana R Levy, Pace University


This study explores the association between language and behavior in 69 toddlers between the ages of 18–36 months old from low-income and predominately minority (80% non-Caucasian) families. This relationship has been shown to exist in preschool and school-age children and the current study aims to extend downward to tap the developmental emergence of the relationship in toddlerhood. Measures of internalizing, externalizing and total behavior (Child Behavior Checklist 1½–5) and receptive, expressive and total language (Preschool Language Scale - 4) were administered to all participants and demographic information was collected from parents and/or guardians. Analyses of three hypotheses using Pearson correlations and partial correlations reveal the following: (1) the relationship between the total language score and the total behavior score was non-significant (r (67) = −.19, p = .07), (2) the relationship between receptive language and total behavior is significant, but weak (r (67) = −.21, p = .05) and (3) the relationship between expressive language and externalizing behavior problems was non-significant (r (67) = −.15, p = .12). When controlling for demographics (i.e. race, birth weight, gestational age, number of ear infections and number of languages spoken in the home) the relationship between receptive language and total behavior was non-significant. Exploratory analyses by deciles revealed a weak, non-significant association between language and behavior and the researcher suggests that this association marks the beginnings of a developmental trend increasingly linking language and behavior. In light of future research it would be valuable to examine the role of therapy on the psychopathology-language interface and examine those treatments longitudinally.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology|Preschool education|Speech therapy

Recommended Citation

Levy, Dana R, "Language and *behavior in toddlers: Are they related?" (2005). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3178762.



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