Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology. 

Transactional theory and the coercive family process model have illustrated how the parent-child relationship is reciprocal. Emerging research using advanced statistical methods has examined these theories, but further investigations are necessary. In this study, we utilised linked health data on maternal mental health disorders and explored their relationship with child problem behaviours via the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire for over 13 years. We accessed data from the Millennium Cohort Study, linked to anonymised individual-level population-scale health and administrative data within the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank. We used Bayesian Structural Equation Modelling, specifically Random-Intercept Cross-Lagged Panel Models, to analyse the relationships between mothers and their children. We then explored these models with the addition of time-invariant covariates. We found that a mother’s mental health was strongly associated over time, as were children’s problem behaviours. We found mixed evidence for bi-directional relationships, with only emotional problems showing bi-directional associations in mid to late childhood. Only child-to-mother pathways were identified for the overall problem behaviour score and peer problems; no associations were found for conduct problems or hyperactivity. All models had strong between-effects and clear socioeconomic and sex differences. We encourage the use of whole family-based support for mental health and problem behaviours, and recommend that socioeconomic, sex and wider differences should be considered as factors in tailoring family-based interventions and support.