Adolescent Family Adversity and Mental Health Problems: The Role of Adaptive Self-regulation Capacities. The TRAILS Study
Adolescent family adversity is a considerable adaptive challenge in an increasingly turbulent developmental period. Using data from a prospective population cohort of 2230 Dutch adolescents, we tested risk-buffering interactions between adolescent family adversity and selfregulation capacities on mental health. We used two adaptive self-regulation capacities that could allow adolescents to manage relatively well with family adversity: (1) parent-reported effortful control, and (2) an attentional flexibility (in this case, set-shifting) task. Adolescent family adversity was associated with internalizing problems and externalizing problems. The risk-buffering effects of effortful control were found for externalizing problems but not or internalizing problems. There were no risk-buffering effects of attentional flexibility on both types of mental health problems. Effortful control is likely to benefit adolescents’ ability to channel their frustrations in adaptive ways in the presence of family adversity. Additionally, (attentional) set-shifting tasks might have a limited predictive value for risk-buffering research.