Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Korean Parents' Identification of Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Kindergarten-Age Children

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Korean Parents' Identification of Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Kindergarten-Age Children

Article excerpt

Abstract. The purpose of this study was to investigate Korean parents' identification of emotional and behavioral problems in 4- to 5-year-old children. Questionnaires about children's behaviors, in general, were completed by 375 parents of 4- to 6-year-old children in six private hindergartens in the cities of Seoul and Il-san, Korea. The results of this study were that: 1) although Korean parents generally showed an uncertain identification of the 33 emotional and behavioral problems in 4- to 5-year-old children, they most frequently identified physical and eating problem behavior and withdrawn behavior as emotional and behavioral problems; 2) Korean parents generally identified emotional and behavioral problems in 4- to 5-year-old children regardless of the children's gender, except/or disobedient behavior; and 3) three parents' demographic variables (i.e., age of the parents' own children, mother's occupation, and father's occupation) significantly but unsubstantially explained Korean parents' identificat ion of 4- to 5-year-old children's emotional and behavioral problems. The findings are discussed in terms of cultural context, as well as in relation to other studies.


Parents' concerns about the emotional and behavioral problems of children are reflected in a number of emerging theories (e.g., theories of self-regulation) and research studies on emotional and social development. Emotional and behavioral problems (EBPs) of young children are receiving more attention than ever before (e.g., Bird, 1996; Campbell, 1990, 1995; Martens, 1993), and there is increased interest in the assessment, identification, and intervention of young children with behavior problems (Boyle & Jones, 1985; Elliot, Busse, & Gresham, 1993). In fact, studies (e.g., Jenkins, Bax, & Hart, 1980; Richman, Stevenson, & Graham, 1982) indicate that 15-20% of preschoolers have mild to severe behavior problems.

Children's behavior problems vary in type and severity, and have been classified as: 1) internalizing, or overcontrolled, problems (e.g., shyness, fearfulness, and somatic problems), and 2) externalizing, or undercontrolled, problems (e.g., fighting, showing off, and hyperactivity). These two categories of behavior problems have been found in more than 20 factor analysis studies (for study summaries, see Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1978). Also, these two behavior categories, internalizing and externalizing, have been established as two dimensions of children's emotional and behavioral problems (Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1986; Hinshaw, Han, Erhardt, & Huber, 1992). These behaviors include aggression, attention problems, delinquency, social problems, somatic complaints, thought problems, and withdrawal.

Researchers (e.g., Campbell, 1995; Feil & Walker, 1995) have suggested certain considerations for defining emotional and behavioral disturbances. First, normally developing children of all ages engage in some deviant behaviors. Patterson, Reid, and Dishion (1992) have suggested that a typical preschool boy will yell, tease, or whine approximately once every three minutes. Therefore, the frequency and intensity of the "problem behavior," relative to a normative context, are critical points in defining emotional and behavioral disturbance. In this sense, significant factors in defining behavior problems, such as chronicity (over a period of time) and severity (to a marked degree), are important when differentiating between transient or mild problems and those that are persistent and debilitating (Coleman, 1996).

Korean early childhood education researchers (e.g., Hong, 1996; Jung, 1997) have studied children's behavior problems in terms of parents' and teachers' concerns. These studies have proposed similar categories of behavior problems to those found in American studies (e.g., Lim, 1998; The New Age Academic Society for Research in Early Childhood Education, 1994). …

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