Externalizing and internalizing behavior problems in preschoolers: The importance of teacher-child relationship


  • Rabia Özen-Uyar Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, Adiyaman University, Adiyaman, Turkey
  • Yaşare Aktaş-Arnas Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, Hasan Kalyoncu University, Gaziantep, Turkey




teacher-child relationship, pre-schooler, externalizing behaviour problems, internalizing behaviour problems


During the early stages of childhood, educators play a pivotal role as influential figures in a child’s life. The dynamic between teacher and child holds the potential to either foster or jeopardize the child’s developmental trajectory. The present study investigated the predictive role of teacher-child relationships in behavior problems for Turkish children. A predictive correlation design was used in this study. Eight preschool teachers rated the quality of their relationships with 138 children aged 4–6 years and their externalizing and internalizing problem behaviors. Findings revealed that the quality of the teacher-child relationships was a significant predictor of both externalizing and internalizing problems. Closeness in teacher-child relationships is associated with a decrease in children’s externalizing and internalizing behavior problems. Conflicts in teacher-child relationships, in contrast, have been linked to increased problem behaviors exhibited by children. Notably, conflict emerges as a more influential predictor for externalizing behavior problems, whereas the level of closeness exerts a more substantial influence on internalizing behavior problems. Findings provide new perspectives on how teacher-child relationship patterns affect children’s behavior problems in Turkey context.


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How to Cite

Özen-Uyar, R., & Aktaş-Arnas, Y. (2023). Externalizing and internalizing behavior problems in preschoolers: The importance of teacher-child relationship. Southeast Asia Early Childhood Journal, 12(2), 152–165. https://doi.org/10.37134/saecj.vol12.2.9.2023